The Browns already have a Bentley already parked in the garage and the team is working on details with Kevin Shaffer on a long-term deal to solidify the Browns newly powerful veteran offensive line.
They are not, however, done yet. Not close to it.
Here is what we have learned this afternoon after working the phones and our sources for information.
We have confirmed - as if ESPN's report wasn't enough - that a long-term contract with C LeCharles Bentley is indeed done. The move, to lock up one of the very best available free agents, was a shock in terms of its speed and the team's ability to fly under the assembled radar of the media - even the OBR - on this one. As recently as this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer in a story picked up and parroted by several football news services despite its poor sourcing stated that Bentley was a lock to sign in Philly. Uh-uh.
Also tying into the story pulled off by ESPN this morning, we've learned that the deal with OT Kevin Shaffer is nearly done, and there is confidence in Berea that will be finished up this afternoon.
Two more offers have already been formulated, neither a huge surprise, but the seriousness of the team can no longer really be in doubt about either of these players.
The first offer put together is for Ravens P Dave Zastudil. As of 2PM EST, the local (Ohio University) product has still not agreed to terms. We do not have an ETA for resolution on this one.
The team's interest in Seahawks WR Joe Jurevicius is genuine. An offer has been put together, and the Lake Catholic High School product will be arriving in Cleveland later today.
Do we believe that the deal is done for the two-time Super Bowl player? No.
Is a signing likely, as John Clayton said on the radio earlier today? The OBR would not use that terminology at this point. We would say a signing is possible, but when the plane wheels haven't even hit the ground, "likely" is a mite strong.
As we reported earlier today in the exclusive OBR Football Roundtable, the Browns are also interest in Steelers defensive back S Chris Hope. We are now hearing Hope could be visiting Cleveland next week. That name has yet to be mentioned anywhere else, but we are confident in the information we have been given.
With respect to the team's needs elsewhere on defense, the situation continues to be fuzzier.
The Browns continue to talk with DL Trevor Pryce, and the ex-Bronco is
consider to be the first option. If nothing materializes with Pryce, the Browns
may go to other alternatives in the next 24 hours. The OBR is also following up
leads regarding discussions with another veteran defensive lineman, and we
should have more to report on that this evening.
Interest in two other players is in a holding pattern. There has been nothing new on LB Bart Scott to reach our ears today, tying in with published reports that he is visiting Berea later this weekend. There is still a waiting game on with Willie McGinest. Thanks to the increased salary cap, McGinest and the Pats are still talking. It is believed that his first choice would be remain in New England.