Broncos thin on defensive line

Updated: March 1, 2005, 2:06 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Cleveland and Denver have agreed on a trade that would send Browns defensive tackle Gerard "Big Money" Warren to the Broncos for a fourth-round draft choice, but financial details remain to be completed.

Gerard Warren
Defensive Tackle
Cleveland Browns
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
19 15 4 2 4 0

Those details revolve around how, and how much, Warren will be paid in the final season of his original NFL contract. Denver officials, who apprised Warren's representative of the trade agreement on Monday evening, are to speak to agent Joel Segal on Tuesday in an effort to reach an accord.

Another issue that must be addressed is what position Warren will play in Denver as the Broncos switch to a 3-4 defensive front in 2005.

Warren is due a $1.3 roster bonus on Wednesday and a 2005 base salary of $950,000. While some reports indicate he is also under contract for the '06 season, Warren reached predetermined performance levels to void that portion of his deal.

It is believed that Warren, the third overall choice in the 2001 draft, will opt to play on a one-year contract, rather than seek an extension. That would make him eligible to be an unrestricted free agent next spring. In essence, the Broncos, desperate for defensive line help, would rent him for one season.

Cleveland officials last week granted Warren and Segal permission to discuss trade scenarios with potential suitors. The Broncos quickly made contact to indicate interest in the four-year veteran.

If the deal is completed -- and it can't be officially announced until Wednesday anyway -- Warren will be reunited with defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who coached him the past two seasons in Cleveland and recently joined the Denver staff. Patterson noted at the combine in Indianapolis last week that he is a huge Warren booster and conceded he was prodding his new Broncos bosses to acquire him.

"Nobody really understands him," Patterson said. "Is he the smart, intelligent guy you see on Monday, or is he the hip-hop gangster you see every Wednesday? I got to see the consistent guy every day in my meeting room, a guy that could pick up stuff."

Often criticized because his modest statistics never matched the huge investment that Cleveland had in him, Warren nonetheless is an intriguing player. The Browns have paid him a considerable sum in four seasons, including $11.6 million as a rookie.

Warren, 26, has appeared in 60 games and started all but one of them. He has recorded 152 tackles, 10½ sacks, four forced fumbles and nine passes defensed.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.

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