Opening Bell Free Agent Scoop

Lane Adkins and John Taylor have been working their contacts, and working the phones, to find out what to expect when free agency kicks off on Saturday. Here is the very latest scoop, with some names you may know - like David Givens (photo) - prominently mentioned, and a couple names you may not have heard a lot about. There's no better time to get on the inside with a seven-day free trial!


DRAWING THE LINE: The Browns appear poised to move on without the services of starting left tackle L.J. Shelton. The team and player have not been able to come to terms of a deal and as of Thursday night, the two parties were still too far apart to feel confident a deal can be in place prior to the free agent player signing period.

Cleveland is poised to add experience and depth along the offensive line this off-season, with offensive lineman Tom Ashworth being mentioned as one player the team is expected to show some interest in.


WILL HE OR WON'T HE? The rumors coming out of both Cleveland and Foxboro regarding the Browns' interest in free-agent linebacker Willie McGinest continues to gain steam.

League sources tell The OBR that head coach Romeo Crennel is salivating over the possibility of adding the veteran to his scheme, and only general manager Phil Savage doing his due diligence and coming up with "calendar" concerns would prevent the Browns from pursuing the LB.

The stumbling block could be that the Pats and McGinest are talking, with both sides wanting the linebacker/defensive end to return. We are told that the Browns will be talking with McGinest's reps on Saturday or Sunday.


WHERE THERE'S A WILL: The Browns may have some additional competition for the recently-released McGinest, however. We're hearing that the Broncos have made a few overtures to the free-agent linebacker's agent, with the interest expected to grow exponentially if the club fails to land Jets LB John Abraham in an oft-rumored trade.

This situation could be of concern to the Browns because we're informed that no deal is imminent between the Broncos and Jets. With Denver looking to make moves quickly and having a OLB/DE pass rusher as a top priority, the Broncos could swipe the Patriots vet away from the Browns if they tire of drawn-out negotiations with the Jets.


GREAT SCOTT: In somewhat of an odd twist, the Patriots are expected to show an interest in Ravens linebacker Bart Scott if the club cannot convince McGinest to return at a much lower salary. Scott, of course, is very visible on the Browns' free-agent radar screen, although he is not right at the top.


THE PRYCE AIN'T RIGHT: Another Browns note we're hearing as it relates to the Broncos: do not discount defensive end Trevor Pryce returning to Denver. Pryce, who visited Cleveland earlier in the week and had what a source close to Pryce termed "a very encouraging trip", is open to a Mile High return if he fails to garner the requisite interest on his free-agent tour.

Translation: he's open to a return to Denver if teams fail to show him the requisite money.

Translation Addendum: He may very well do so, because the Browns are not prepared to offer Pryce top-dollar due to his injury history.


IT'S A GIVENS: Count wide receiver David Givens as one of those in the "hell yes" category in regard to the passage of a new collective bargaining agreement. A league source tells The OBR that upwards of 12 teams will have at least a fair-to-middling interest in the free agent.

(Of course, that's just an educated guess as tampering is winkwink illegal.)

If there were not a new CBA, the source said, Givens could have expected as few as five teams hot on his trail. Of course, the more teams interested in a particular player, the larger said player's bank account grows.


GIVEN TAKE: Speaking of Givens, we hear the Browns may be prepared to make a contract proposal to the WR as early as this weekend. However, Givens may wait at least a week into free agency before settling on a particular deal and club.

Of course, there is always the potential for a team with a tremendous amount of interest—like, say, one whose name rhymes with "Cleveland Browns"—to make an offer that would have Givens' travel agent scrambling to cancel prospective visits.

We are told, as of Friday afternoon, that if the right offer is made by a team where Givens is comfortable, he will accept it. One important note, however: Givens is expected to give the Patriots the opportunity to sign him to a deal close to the offer before he accepts it.

Loyalty to a team only seems to show up when it could be annoying to Browns fans.


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