Since the team's return in 1999, Browns fans have looked toward June 1st cuts
as a means to enhance the team's often-lacking roster. Year after year, however,
the Browns have failed to find significant help available after NFL teams cut
their aging and expensive vets in order to spread out damage to their salary
caps. This year is unlikely to break the string when the names of players
released is officially announced on Wednesday morning.
Two Browns Facing the Ax?
The names of Robert Griffith and Tim Couch have been suggested as outside
possibilities for release by the Browns, but the team does not appear to set to
Griffith was signed from the Vikings several years ago and was a favorite of
then-defensive coordinator Foge Fazio
. His contract, worth over $1 million
per year in 2004 and 2005, is deemed by some to be more expensive than needed
for a player with a tendency to go for the "big hit" rather than the sure
tackle. Butch Davis
likes Griffith's locker room leadership, a quality in much
need on one of the NFL's youngest teams in 2003, and the Browns don't have a
replacement measurably better than Griffith. As a result, it seems unlikely
that Griffith will be cut loose.
Two weeks ago, Butch Davis flatly denied that Couch would be cut following
June 1, and told reporters that such a move wasn't under consideration. The
Browns still hope to extract something in trade for Couch, and are concerned
that he could turn up as a Baltimore Raven thanks to the injury to Anthony Wright
. Still, trading the first pick from 1999 has been difficult. Couch does
not want to get into a long-term back-up role and seems to have a higher
estimation of his value than NFL executives.
Rummaging in the Discount Bin
There will be notable roster activity over the next two days, but much of it
will involve a position, quarterback, where the Browns have little need for an
another expensive veteran presence. Kurt Warner, Vinny Testeverde, and Rich Gannon are likely names to show up on the waiver wire, and there is nothing to
indicate that the Browns would have an interest in any of them. Eddie George's
possible release might create headlines, but makes little sense for a Browns
team deep at running back.
There are a couple of outside possibilities for the Browns interest, however.
At offensive guard, the Raiders might be tempted to release either OG Mo Collins or OL Frank Middleton. Both players, however, have noticeably slowed and
appear to have lost their effectiveness against quicker interior linemen. It's
debatable whether either would provide an upgrade over the group of youngster slated
to battle it out over the one open starting offensive guard position.
The Cowboy's Larry Allen has also been mentioned as a possible cut. Dallas
offered him around prior to the draft, asking for a third-round pick, and
published rumors suggested that the Browns had some level of interest. A report
from this morning's Dallas Morning-News, however, opines that Allen is now out
of Parcell's doghouse and likely to be kept by the Cowboys.
At offensive tackle, names rumored as possible cuts are Kenyatta Walker
(Tampa Bay), Anthony Clement (Arizona Cardinals) and Todd Weiner (Atlanta Falcons). Of the three, Walker is the most intriguing. A 2001 first-round
choice, he was considered capable enough to start fourteen games as the Bucs
defended their 2002 championship. A change of venue might benefit Walker, but
the Browns would also face competition for his services from several other teams
hoping that the young veteran from Florida can rebound.
The Browns might also have an interest in several players who might be made
available in the defensive secondary. The 49ers S Zach Bronson is a possibility
to be released, but was injured and ineffective last year.
At cornerback, Mike McKenzie has been mentioned in the press as a possible
cut by the Packers, but such a quick trigger on the part of the Packers would be
surprising, despite McKenzie's demands to be traded. McKenzie could make the
battle for the second starting cornerback spot a lot more interesting if he is
made available. Atlanta's Tyrone Williams another cornerback expected to be cut,
but was a complete disaster for the Falcons in 2003 both in the locker room and
on the field.
With the possible exceptions of Walker and McKenzie, there isn't much for
Browns fans to get excited about.
The bargain bin of cut veterans is expected to be filled during the next
several days, but discount shoppers from Cleveland may discover that it makes
the most sense to just walk on by.