According to Sports Illustrated, a close friend of Brown's said the three-year veteran is afraid he will be released at the end of the year due to a lack of production. In two games this season, Brown has just six tackles, no sacks, and five quarterback pressures in two games this season. All five pressures came in the season opener against Kansas City. Brown has also been plagued by injuries. He missed most of last season with an ankle injury, and one of three games of this season with a neck injury.
The rumor that Brown is worried about his future in Cleveland hit one week after another rumor circulated saying the Browns were considering trading him to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the rights to unsigned rookie offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie. That rumor proved false, but it prompted Butch Davis to meet with Brown.
"I talked to Courtney because unfortunately Chris Mortensen called me last week and said he heard this bizarre rumor that we were going to trade Courtney," said Davis. "I said to Courtney, "let me tell you something. This is the furthest thing in the world from the truth. There is no foundation (to the rumor), no shopping., no investigation. I love Courtney Brown. He is a great kid. He plays good. I can't envision a scenario that he would be any part of a trade, or get cut, or something like that.
"Do you know how hard defensive linemen are to get who are young and healthy, and talented, and big, and physical? What we've tried to do is build our defensive line, and he is going to be part of that foundation. He and Gerard (Warren), and Orpheus (Roye), and Kenard Lang. We feel that is one positive step we have made in one year is the ability to build an offensive line … I would like to think Courtney is not concerned about (his future in Cleveland) because he has heard it right from the coaches mouth."
Still, Brown is not playing like a No. 1 overall pick. In the 50 snaps he played against Tennessee last week, Brown was basically by the rest of the Browns' front seven that turned in its best performance of the season. Brown recorded just three tackles and did not have a single pressure as he was dominated by Titans' left tackle Brad Hopkins.
"Statistically, everybody would like for him to jump out there and have 15 or 16 sacks," said Davis. "Certainly he would, and we would, too. At the same token, he is doing a lot of very good things in the run defense. He is making tackles. He is containing the quarterback. He is pressuring the quarterback."
In the last two seasons, the only standout performance Brown turned in was in an overtime loss at Chicago last season.
"I'm a firm believer that if you can do it once, you can do it a lot of times," said Davis. "How huge was (Brown against Chicago). If he doesn't have three sacks and pick up a fumble and run it in, their miracle comeback may not have been a miracle comeback. They may have been winning."
According to Davis, a big reason for Brown's inability to post the type of numbers expected from a No. 1 pick is directly related to injury.
"He just hasn't been able to stay healthy," said Davis.
Davis said he will stand by Courtney Brown. So too will his teammates.
"Believe me, if Courtney Brown is 100-percent healthy, nobody is going to stop him," said defensive tackle Gerard Warren. "I'm sure Courtney is feeling some pressure within himself (being a No. 1 pick), but I hope he doesn't feel any pressure from outside influences … The guys on this team believe 100-percent in Courtney Brown. We've got his back."
If Brown is feeling pressure, Davis is doing his best to make sure he should not feel pressure that his job is on the line.
"I'd like to think he isn't worried because I personally told him face to face that it is not true," said Davis.
Prior to the start of the season, Davis said the Browns had challenged Brown to take more chances, worry less about technique and just rely on instinct and the physical gifts that made him a first overall pick.
"What we are trying to do is get him to take a few liberties," said Davis. "He'll say ‘yeah, I really thought that it looked like it was going to be a pass,' but we hadn't called for him to rush the passer. We are (saying) ‘go ahead. Take a leap. If you are wrong, screw it, we'll fix it the next play."