Sunday Morning Massacre

News and notes from the Browns, the AFC North, and the rest of the National Football League.

 
 
BROWNS NOTES
 
The sudden resignation of Dwight Clark had placed contract talks with Kevin Johnson on the backburner, but conversations between the two sides are expected to heat up in the coming week to ten days. 
 
Johnson was a favorite of Clark's, but, despite his departure, the receiver's camp and the Browns remain cautiously optimistic that a deal can be struck before the start of the 2002 regular season.  Optimally, both sides would like a new contract signed, sealed and delivered before the start of training camp, but acknowledge that haggling over the details of an agreement, specifically the size of signing bonus, could push back that timeframe.
 
Incidentally, with Clark now out of the picture, Lal Heneghan will take the lead on the contract talks......
 
Speaking of Clark, and as reported in this space last Sunday, the deposed director of football operations is sniffing around the Carolina Panthers, putting out feelers to the organization that he would be interested in a front office position.  While it's likely that Clark will spend the 2002 season in the broadcast end of the game, there is a chance that he could take a lower-level position with the Panthers, with an agreement that he would replace Jack Bushofsky upon his retirement......
 
The Browns have been in contact with the agents for two of their lower-round draft picks, but those talks have been preliminary in nature and no signing is imminent.  Talks between the Browns and their higher-round picks are not expected to commence until later next month, with the middle of July as the target for getting each pick signed.  "It'd be very surprising if you saw the first signing [of a draft pick] before the middle of June," a source told The Insiders......
 
EX-BROWNIES
 
Keith Kidd, fired by the Browns two weeks ago as their director of pro personnel, did not stay out of work for long.  Kidd has resurfaced in New England, where he took a job in the Patriots' pro scouting department.....
 
As first reported in this space upon his release, special teams ace Tarek Saleh, somewhat surprisingly released by the Browns earlier this offseason, paid a free-agent visit to the Dolphins late last week.  The 27-year-old Saleh, who led Cleveland in special teams tackles in 1999 and 2000, has drawn the interest of several teams after being cut, but the trip to Miami was his first visit since being released.
 
NORTH-SIDE TIDBITS
 
Word coming out of Baltimore is that the contract unhappiness of Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware could lead to the linebacking duo holding when training camp commences in July.  What a shock, heh?  Regular readers of this space knew a tandem holdout was a possibility two months ago......
 
If the Ravens cannot reach an agreement on restructured contracts with Boulware and Lewis, they will not have the salary cap space to sign anyone ion the post-June 1 free-agent market.  Baltimore is still seeking a veteran running back to provide insurance for current starter Jamal Lewis' still-recovering knee, and at least one more offensive lineman.  Additionally, the club is still holding out hope that they can re-sign free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams......
 
The Bengals and second-round draft pick Lamont Thompson have come to a semi-compromise in their dispute over the now-infamous "injury-waiver form."  While the rookie safety will not participate in any on-the-field drills, he will be at the club's ongoing minicamp and will attend meetings being held by position coach Darren Perry.  Thompson and his agent, Mike Sullivan, want the Bengals to guarantee the signing bonus the player picked in his spot last year in case of injury, while the Bengals, as per the collective bargaining agreement, will only give the player a guarantee of a one-year tender at $225,000......
 
Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins, who suffered a sprained posterior cruciate ligament in his knee this past Wednesday, should be close to 100% healthy for the start of training camp in late July. Fortunately for both Hawkins and the Bengals, surgery was not needed to repair the damage suffered during a minicamp workout......
 
Running back Jason Brookins, released by the Ravens on Monday, worked out for the Packers last week.  Green Bay is still searching for a backup for starter Ahman Green, but will likely wait until June 1 to make any addition to the backfield.
 
LEAGUE-WIDE BAUBLES
 
With Robert Holcombe's bolting of the Rams and signing with the Titans earlier this past week, will that affect Trung Canidate's availability on the trade market?  The answer to that question depends on whom you ask.  "We'd be open to listen to anybody that has an interest [in making a trade], even with Robert leaving," a Rams source told The Insiders.  However, a league source feels that Holcombe's decision to leave St. Louis virtually closes the door on a trade involving Canidate.  "[Holcombe] was nothing special, but he did provide valuable veteran insurance behind Marshall [Faulk], and I'd be very surprised if the Rams would consider dealing him now," the source said.  The Eagles are in the market for a RB, either via the free-agent route or in a trade.  As reported in this space last week, Canidate is one of the players in which Philadelphia has an interest......
 
Why would the Cowboys decide a full two months before the start of training camp to release quarterback Ryan Leaf?  According to those in the know, the organization has been attempting to drum up trade interest in the 1998 draft bust for the past month.  During that time, they found literally no one who would even come close to being willing to offer up any type of draft pick in exchange for Leaf.  Even a conditional seventh-rounder -- contingent on playing time -- could not be pried away from another team.  With four other QBs on the roster, and no hope of getting even a bag of balls in return, the club decided to cut Leaf and allow him the opportunity to be picked up by another team......
 
Barring a sudden and unexpected change in prognosis, Jets Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae will miss at least the start of training camp after undergoing surgery to repair a small rotator-cuff tear in his left shoulder.  According to one league source, there is a chance that, if Mawae's rehabilitation does not go according to plan, that the offensive lineman's availability for the start of the regular season could be affected......
 
The signing of linebacker Robert Jones will not prevent the Packers from pursuing Hardy Nickerson once he's released by the Jaguars, a league source told The Insiders.  Jones was close to signing with Green Bay two months ago before opting for a contract with Houston.  Recently, Jones asked for, and was granted, his release from the Texans......
 
The Lions are still looking at early June as the earliest wide receiver Germane Crowell can begin limited participation in football drills.  Crowell tore a patellar tendon in the fifth game of the 2001 season and missed the remainder of the year......
 
Both the Dolphins and the Eagles will have an interest in defensive end Marco Coleman when/if he's released by the Redskins early next month.

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