Despite having plugged a major hole in the Browns offensive line, General Manager Phil Savage still has much work to do before his organization is ready for the 2007 season.
A high priority is re-invigorating the Browns aging defensive line, whose inability to stop the run in 2006 played no small role in the Browns eventual 4-12 record. The team fielded a starting three of Alvin McKinley (28), Ted Washington (39,next month), and Orpheus Roye (33) last season, and doesn't appear to have an interest in re-signing McKinley in the near future.
The Browns have already signed restricted free agent DT Shaun Smith to a free agent to an offer sheet. The deal, believed to be worth $8 million, can be matched by the Bengals over the next four days. If the Bengals decide not to match, the Browns will not owe the Bengals any draft compensation for Smith, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent.
In addition to the public pursuit of Smith, GM Phil Savage continues to prowl the free agent market to help fill one starting spot and perhaps more.
Near the top of the list is Titans DT Robaire Smith, an unrestricted free agent. Smith has visited the Browns facility, and the team has provided him with a contract offer in the last 48 hours. Smith's representatives have countered with their own contract offer, and await word from the Browns at this hour.
The OBR can also report that Tennessee would have an interest in retaining Smith, and have also put an offer in front of the 6'4" 310-pound product from Michigan State, although it's believed that Smith would prefer to play in Cleveland, particularly due to the presence of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
It's also believed that it will take a contract which includes guaranteed money in the $8-$10 million range to land the veteran defensive lineman, although Smith's agent, Mike Harrison, refused to comment on any specifics.
While they talk with Smith, the Browns also are talking to a potential defensive end, in the form of 6-2, 285 pound former Carolina Panther Kindal Moorehead.
The Browns spoke with Moorehead's agent the first weekend of free agency, Sunday night to be specific. They have talked a couple of times since then, but the talks are merely at the "feeling out" and exploratory stages right now as no contract numbers have been discussed.
Moorehead's agent, Kirk Wood, expects to hear back from the Browns no later than this Wednesday. The agent also believes the Browns' interest will pick up once the Browns get the Robaire Smith situation decided.
It's also been intimated by the Browns that the club will still have an interest in Moorehead even if they sign Smith. Should Moorehead, who is also being pursued by the Saints and the Panthers, sign with the Browns, the lineman would play end in a 3-4.
This time of year, teams need to multi-task, so the Browns will also have potential draft pick - WR Eric Fowler - in for an individual workout on Thursday.
Fowler, a first-team Division II All-American at Grand Valley State, had 76 receptions for 1,598 yards and 21 touchdowns during his 2006 season. The 6-3, 212-pounder averaged 21 yards per reception, although he did not receive an invitation to the Scouting Combine. Fowler is unranked and given a one-star rating on the Scout draft board.