Browns claim cornerback Thompson off waivers

Updated: July 9, 2006, 12:14 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Already girding for at least one training camp battle at cornerback, the Cleveland Browns have further ramped up the competition at the position, claiming third-year veteran Chris Thompson off waivers from the Chicago Bears.

Cornerback
Chicago Bears

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
7 4 3 0 0 0

Thompson, 24, joins a group of young cornerbacks who will compete with the top three players on the depth chart -- Gary Baxter, Daylon McCutcheon and Leigh Bodden -- for playing time. The battle between McCutcheon and Bodden for the starting job at left cornerback figures to be one of the highlights of camp.

In Chicago, where he appeared in 12 games in 2005 and started one contest, Thompson became expendable when the Bears chose a pair of cornerbacks, Danieal Manning and Devin Hester, in the second round of this year's draft. By claiming Thompson on waivers, Cleveland inherits his minimum base salary of $425,000 for 2006. He will be eligible for restricted free agency after this season.

Securing a player of Thompson's potential, and for the minimum salary, could turn out to be an excellent maneuver by Browns officials. They have no out-of-pocket investment in the former Nicholls State (La.) star and Thompson is a young player with some intriguing skills.

The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Thompson in the fifth round of the 2004 draft, but although he was on the roster his entire rookie season, he never appeared in a game. Jacksonville released him before the start of the 2005 season and the Bears claimed him on waivers. He posted 10 tackles from scrimmage in Chicago and also had eight special teams tackles and a fumble recovery.

At 6-foot-0 and 189 pounds, Thompson has good size and he plays faster than his 4.53-second speed in the 40 might indicate. Thompson possesses good cover instincts; in college, he did not allow a touchdown pass in four years and posted 11 interceptions. At worst, he should be able to compete for a special teams spot, an area at which he has excelled, as evidenced by eight blocked kicks in college.

Among the other young players vying for what likely will be the No. 4 cornerback spot in training camp are Pete Hunter, DeMario Minter and James Thornton.

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