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Browns might release DE Courtney Brown

CLEVELAND (March 12, 2005) -- Injury-plagued defensive end Courtney Brown will be released March 14 by the Cleveland Browns if the club cannot 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 large roster bonus on March 15.

The Browns still might re-sign Brown, who has missed 33 games with injuries the past four seasons. Team president John Collins said 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 would be willing to move to linebacker in the team's 3-4 defensive scheme.

Browns general manager Phil Savage told The Plain Dealer he'll discuss the team's plans with Brown on March 14. 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 only 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.

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