The Browns opened up another $600,000 under their salary cap by dealing Mark Campbell yesterday, and are already looking to see how additional players can be brought in to replace lost talent.
Two names have already been mentioned in connection with the Browns in the press. Those names are Shawn Barber of the Philadelphia Eagles and Nick Luchey of the Cincinnati Bengals. Lane Adkins adds to previous reports by telling Bernie's Insiders that the Browns are "going hard" after Barber. A number of sources report that Barber is visiting the Browns, after previous stops at the Chiefs and Bengals.
The Akron Beacon-Journal reported this morning that the Browns will talk to FB Nick Luchey. The Bengals would be motivated to keep Luchey now, as their starting All-Pro FB Lorenzo Neal signed with the San Diego Chargers yesterday. The Browns have searched for a full back to fit into Bruce Arians offense since intended starter JJ Johnson was knocked out of training camp, and perhaps the NFL, by an injury last summer.
There are reports on the Internet that the Browns are interested in Stephan Davis. Lane Adkins tells us that Dallas and Carolina are the major players for Davis, with Dallas appearing to be the front-runner.
Two additional free agents have shown up on the Browns radar, both of them linebackers. The Browns are considering offering a contract to Tampa Bay restricted free agent MLB Nate Webster and Miami Dolphins linebacker Twan Russell.
Webster is particularly interesting. Cleveland would be required to compensate Tampa Bay with a third-round draft choice if they sign Webster to a contract. Noting Davis' love of draft choices, the Browns must feel that Webster could help the team considerably. The Bucs also felt that Webster would be of interest to other teams, as they tendered him above the league minimum. Webster is the MLB-in-waiting at Tampa Bay, and would be sorely missed. The Browns apparently feel that he is ready to emerge to consider paying such a high price for his services.
Twan Russell, a six-year veteran, had injury challenges all last year, as even a cursory glance at his Hot News ticker would suggest. Russell's release was generally considered a salary cap move by the Dolphins, who have a desire to try to re-sign him. Knee injuries derailed Russell's season in 2003, but don't be surprised to see the Browns give his leg a long look as they examine ways to bolster depleted talent in the linebacking corps.
In addition, Lane Adkins offers that, should Cincinnati fail to trade the first pick, that the team is inclined to select Terrell Suggs (not Carson Palmer) with the first pick. The Bengals Insiders on this network, featuring Bernies Insiders chat room guest and draft guru Greg Mastin, has been the first and only source reporting this change in the Bengals perspective.
Over the last 24 hours, Bernie's Insiders has been furiously updating our Free Agent Tracker with all the cuts from yesterday, as well as all the information about tender offers given to restricted free agents. We have available the draft pick compensation that would be required for all restricted free agents in the system. After another wave of updates this afternoon, you will see the free agent tracker updated continuously throughout the free agent signing season. We will also be updating the Browns 2003 roster, salary cap information, and depth chart throughout the weekend.
Feel free to write us if you have information your would like to see presented regarding free agents. We hope to provide our TAP subscribers with the most complete coverage of the 2003 draft and free agency season anywhere on the web.
- Art Bietz and Lane Adkins contributed to this report.