ESPN is reporting at this hour that Browns DT Mark Smith has signed a two-year deal valued at $2.6 million. The signing takes a little pressure off the team to sign another free agent on the defensive line. The Browns had previously expressed interest in LaRoi Glover, who ultimately signed with the Cowboys.
Smith started in 12 games for the Browns in 2001 after being signed away from the Arizona Cardinals the previous season. The Browns had expressed interest in Smith in previous years as well, finally landing the DT after an injury-riddled 2000 season. Smith blasted out of college in 1997, and had a spectacular season in 1998. He appeared to be regaining some of his form in 2001, as he gained playing time through an outstanding performance in training camp.
With Smith, Head Coach Butch Davis now has some flexibility in his defensive line, with Courtney Brown and Kenard Lang at the defensive end positions, and Gerard Warren, Orpheus Roye and Mark Smith who can all play inside. Smith was vital to the team in 2001, as injuries to Courtney Brown and Keith McKenzie, plus Gerard Warren's off-field challenges, created a unexpected shortfall within the defensive line.