According to published reports, the Cleveland Browns have reached a one-year agreement with recently released OT L.J. Shelton (Cardinals). The signing puts the future of erstwhile holdout left tackle Ross Verba in doubt
Shelton was released by the Cardinals on May 19th, and the tackle had been pursued by a number of teams, including the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears. The signing comes quickly after last year's starting tackle, Ross Verba, went public with his decision to hold out of Quarterback School. Verba's holdout was ostensibly a response to what he felt was the team's reneging on a promise to re-do his contact following the 2004 season.
Shelton, apparently like Verba, ran afoul of his last team after a change in leadership. Cardinals Head Coach Dennis Green didn't warm to Shelton, who was the team's #1 draft pick in 1999. Green started Shelton at right tackle for nine games last year, but benched him for three other games. The way he was used in 2004 was a change for Shelton, who has started 77 of the 82 games he's played in his six-year career, and who had spent his entire pro career playing left tackle.
Ross Verba's future is undetermined at this time. The Browns would not absorb a cap hit for releasing Verba, his 2004 signing bonus would be spread over the next two seasons regardless of whether or not he played for the Browns. Trading or releasing Verba are options, as is keeping him on the club and potentially using him in a back-up role.