The Latest: The Kansas City Chiefs are holding a Monday press conference, most likely to announce the signing of UFA LB Shawn Barber, ending prematurely his tour across the country. Barber signed a seven-year contract worth approximately $30 million.
Analysis: The Browns were never really players for Barber due to limitations in their available cap space. The team needs to get re-negotiated contracts for Brown and Couch done as soon as possible. The Rams and Chiefs, among others, were very interested in securing Barber's services. Vermeil didn't want to see the Rams - who almost signed Barber last year - land the linebacker, so he was very aggressive in putting proposals in front of him.
The Latest: As has been expected for months, RB Stephen Davis was released Wednesday, a move that will save the team $11.4 million against next season's salary cap. Davis was associated with the Browns in an article published recently in a Tampa newspaper.
Analysis: We'll let you know if this ever makes sense to us. The Browns are three-deep at the running back position, and already don't have enough hand-offs to go around. The team may be guarding against the unlikely loss of Jamel White to free agency, but the interest doesn't line up with the team's needs and available cap space. Lane Adkins reported over the weekend that the Cowboys and Panthers were interested in Davis' services.
Nick Luchey, FB, Cincinnati Bengals
The Latest: Bengals.com reported that FB Nick Luchey was in Cleveland visiting the Browns on Sunday. However, it appears as though he left without a contract, as he is now to visit the Packers on Tuesday.
Analysis: The Browns may be able to play the waiting game at the Fullback position, and probably won't get into a bidding war for any of the available players. The fullback free agent group in 2003 is very deep, and the team might be able to wait and get a bargain. The immediate need is at linebacker, and the Browns will likely not make an immediate move at fullback. At least, they shouldnt...
James Darling, LB, New York Jets
The Latest: The New York Daily News reports that James Darling will be in Cleveland visiting with the Browns on Monday, and then will visit the Arizona Cardinals later this week.
Analysis: James Darling appears to be Butch Davis' type of player. He's versatile and he looks to be ready to break out. Darling did a solid job as the Jets' number four linebacker in 2002, and could potentially move to starting job in 2003. He won't demand top dollar, and Cleveland might be an attractive place because of the possibility of moving in as a starter.
The Latest: Linebacker Twan Russell was released by the Dolphins on Friday. Lane Adkins reported over the weekend that the Browns may have in interest in Russell.
Analysis: Russell would be a risky move for the Browns, but potentially a cost-effective one if his knee is fully healed. Russell suffered an injury to his left knee early in the Dolphins season, and tried to return only to see the knee swell up again. He finished the season on the IR after only having appeared in three games. Russell is a solid linebacker if healthy, and might intrigue the Browns as a potential bargain.
Nate Webster, LB, Buccaneers
The Latest: Lane Adkins reported over the weekend that the Browns might have an interest in making a run at Webster.
Analysis: The Browns must really like him if they're prepared to give up a valuable third-round choice. Butch Davis and Pete Garcia are quite familiar with Webster since he went to - of all places - Miami of Florida. At the price of a third-round draft choice and a decent contract, the Browns would have a player ready to step in at middle linebacker. The Bucs may want to keep him if they they think they're going to lose Quarles, as Webster would step in at MLB if Quarles leaves via free agency. Keep a close eye on this one.