DE will be released if contract not redone

CLEVELAND -- Injury-plagued defensive end Courtney Brown will be released on Monday by the Cleveland Browns if the club is unable to restructure the former No. 1 overall draft pick's contract.

Brown, who missed the final 14 games last season after undergoing foot surgery, is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on

The Browns may still re-sign Brown, who has missed 33 games with injuries the past four seasons. Team president John Collins said Saturday that the club will continue talks this weekend with agent Marvin Demoff about redoing Brown's contract.

"If we get past Tuesday, Courtney may want to talk to and visit some other teams," Collins said. "But I think there's still a
chance he'll come back to the Browns."

Collins said Brown has met several times with new Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel and seems excited about his possible role with the Browns. Last month, Brown said he'd be willing to move to linebacker in the team's 3-4 defensive scheme.

Browns general manager Phil Savage told The Plain Dealer that he'll discuss the team's plans with Brown on Monday. He would like to retain Brown.

"We want to make sure Courtney understands this is something that we have to do, not something we want to do," Savage told the newspaper.

Injuries have severely limited Brown's playing time and
production as a pass-rusher. He has played in only 47 games during
his five seasons and has totaled just 17 sacks. His injuries have
included a torn knee ligament, a high ankle sprain, microfracture
knee surgery and a ruptured right biceps tendon.

In Week 2 last season at Dallas, Brown tore a ligament in his foot and was done for the year. He only recently had screws removed following surgery, but at an awards banquet last month the
soft-spoken Brown said he wanted to keep playing.

If the 26-year-old is released, he will be the third
underachieving first-round draft pick cut loose by the Browns in
the past eight months.

Before last season, the Browns released quarterback Tim Couch, the expansion team's No. 1 pick in 1999. Defensive tackle Gerard Warren, the No. 3 pick in 2001, was traded to Denver this month for a fourth-round draft choice.

Cleveland also is looking to trade running back William Green,
the team's first-round selection, 16th overall, in the 2002 draft.