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Couch now free to sign with any team

CLEVELAND -- Tim Couch was finally released Friday by the
Cleveland Browns, a fittingly unceremonious send-off for the
quarterback and former No. 1 overall draft pick.

The expected move was delayed to resolve a grievance Couch filed
against the Browns for banning him from working out at their
training facility.

Team spokesman Todd Stewart said the grievance filed through the
NFL Players Association has been resolved, and Couch is no longer
on Cleveland's roster.

As of 4 p.m. ET Friday, Couch is a free agent and can sign with
another NFL team.

Couch's exit officially ends a stormy five-year stay in
Cleveland, where his time with the Browns was marked by bad teams,
his own inconsistency and controversy.

Couch, who passed for 11,131 yards and 64 touchdowns in five
seasons, may soon sign with the Green Bay Packers, who have been
interested in acquiring him to back up Brett Favre for several
months.

Couch and his agent, Tom Condon, didn't immediately return phone
messages.

The Browns thought they were getting their franchise QB when
they made Couch their first selection as an expansion team in 1999.
However, Couch's tenure included injuries, a yearlong debate over
whether he or Kelly Holcomb should start as well as a love/hate
relationship with Cleveland's fans.

Couch's departure was sealed in March when the Browns signed
free agent Jeff Garcia.

Browns coach Butch Davis had considered keeping Couch as
Garcia's backup but decided to release him because of his lofty
contract -- $15.5 million the next two seasons.

Davis also wanted to make sure Holcomb was recovering from
offseason shoulder surgery before letting Couch go.

The Browns tried to trade Couch, but couldn't find a partner
because of his huge contract.

Because Couch was still on Cleveland's roster after June 1, he
will count $1.75 million against the Browns' salary cap for the
next two years.

After the Browns picked up Couch's contract option in 2002,
Davis called him "the future of this franchise'' and "the kind of
guy you want to build a team around.''

Davis also predicted Couch would lead the Browns to their first
Super Bowl.

On Thursday, Davis was asked if he stood by those remarks.

"When you say things at those particular times you believe with
the right supporting cast, with the right set of circumstances,
with all the different scenarios that go into the success of any
player," Davis said.

"At that particular time, yeah."