In a move not yet announced, but not completely unexpected, the Cleveland Browns have decided to part ways with long-time defensive end Orpheus Roye, The OBR has learned.
According to a Browns source, the move will be officially announced by the organization at some point before the start of free agency. Roye is already aware of the planned release, the source said.
Roye's agent, Phil Williams, would neither confirm nor deny that Roye would be released when contacted by The OBR earlier this afternoon, and an e-mail seeking comment from the Browns has not been answered.
The move to release Roye will end months of speculation regarding the future of the veteran lineman in a Cleveland uniform, and will also free-up several million dollars in cap space as the start of free agency looms.
The 12-year veteran, in the last year of a three-year contract extension signed in 2006, was scheduled to carry a cap number of $5.5 million in 2008. Roye's base salary of $3 million will come off the books upon the defensive lineman's release, although the remaining $2.5 million of his cap number will continue to count against their '08 cap. And, as Roye only has a year remaining on his contract, he will will not be designated as one of the two June 1 veteran cuts the team has at its disposal.
While Roye's agent would not address a release by the Browns, he was very emphatic when addressing rumors that his client was set to retire. According to Williams, Roye had his knees examined earlier this off-season by world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who proclaimed the lineman fit and healthy enough to continue his NFL career.
In fact, Williams said, given Roye's age and tenure in the league, his knees look as good as any Andrews has seen.
The 35-year-old Roye signed with the Browns as a free-agent during the 2000 off-season, and has been a stalwart on the line for the last eight years. However, injuries and age have caused a decline in his effectiveness over the last two seasons.