Pursuit of Stokes Continues

There are a couple of hundred thousand reasons why lineman is not yet inked. Plus, Wali needs to watch out for his backside...again.

The Browns would like to get free-agent offensive lineman Barry Stokes signed, sealed and delivered.  Stokes would like the same.

So why hasn't a deal been consummated?

According to Stokes' agent, Dr. D.S. Ping, the two sides are a "couple hundred thousand dollars apart" on the total compensation package.  The two sides last spoke yesterday, but no talks are scheduled for today.

"I'm open to talking to [the Browns] anytime they want.  It's up to them whether we talk again today," Ping told The Insiders earlier this morning.

The Browns are offering Stokes a three-year deal, while the money Cleveland is offering has Ping seeking a two-year deal.  The Stokes camp would be amenable to a three-year deal, but only if the Browns upped their offer.

That being said, Ping is confident that a deal can be struck with Cleveland.

"We're gonna work it out," Ping said.  "[The Browns] said they wanted to get it done, so we feel fairly optimistic that something will get done."

Stokes, who visited Berea on Monday along with five other free agents, is a versatile lineman who has played four of the five positions along the offensive line during his four seasons in the NFL, with the lone exception being center.

The Browns, according to Ping, are looking to plug his client in at left guard.  Ping, however, thinks that the 6-5, 320-pound Stokes would be a better fit at left tackle.

That position is currently manned by Stokes' former Packers teammate Ross Verba.  Stokes would prefer to play tackle, and if he were signed and could convince the coaching staff that he's best suited to protect Tim Couch's blindside, he would then push Verba inside to the left guard position.

Speaking of Verba, Ping says that while the two offensive linemen remain good friends, that relationship will have no bearing on whether or not he signs with Cleveland.

"We talked about that [Stokes' relationship with Verba], and Barry told me 'Doc, you take care of the business side, and I'll take care of the stuff on the football field.'  Yes, it'd be nice to go somewhere and have somebody you're comfortable with at your side, but it will not be a factor in Barry's decision," Ping said.

Ping added that if things do not work out with Cleveland, Stokes will either re-sign with Green Bay, or find himself playing for the expansion Houston Texans.

FARRIOR NOTE:  The Browns and the agent for free-agent linebacker James Farrior have begun the exchange of contract proposals, The Insiders has learned.  Farrior, a source close to the LB said, is looking for a deal in excess of $12 million over four years and includes a signing bonus in the neighborhood of $3.5 million.  A league source tells The Insiders that while the Browns are very interested in Farrior, the chances of the veteran striking that kind of deal with any team in the NFL, let alone Cleveland, "is slim and none, and slim is currently getting his ass kicked."

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