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Browns probe Lions about Harrington

BEREA, Ohio (April 30, 2006) -- Busy working the phones during the NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns made a couple interesting long-distance calls to Detroit to see what the Lions wanted for quarterback Joey Harrington.

General manager Phil Savage said Sunday that he spoke with Lions GM Matt Millen about Harrington, a former No. 3 overall pick in 2002 who wants out of Detroit and has reached a preliminary two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.

"I wanted to check in and just see what they were looking for, and also the potential of him being a fallback option here as a quarterback," Savage said. "I thought it was at least worth making a call."

Savage's interest in Harrington -- no matter how exploratory or casual -- points to two possibilities in Cleveland. One is that the Browns are not yet sold on Charlie Frye, who started five games as a rookie, as their starter next season. Another is that 33-year-old Trent Dilfer, who signed a four-year free agent contract before last season, would like to move again.

Savage downplayed both scenarios. He said Harrington, who was 18-37 as a starter with the Lions under three coaches, would be an option for Cleveland as a backup rather than a starter. And while Dilfer has not asked to be traded, Savage said he didn't know whether the veteran was happy.

"I can't answer that," Savage said.

As for Frye, Savage insists the club's opinion of him as a potential starter has not diminished. The second-year GM said Cleveland's inquiry about Harrington was nothing more than that.

"That situation is dead as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Maybe so. But it's curious that the Browns would be asking about Harrington if everything was settled at QB. Dilfer had offseason knee surgery and is not ready to participate in the club's conditioning program.

Savage believes Harrington is headed to the Dolphins, who need a backup for new starter Daunte Culpepper. There's even a chance Harrington could begin next season as Miami's No. 1 QB if Culpepper isn't ready following a knee injury.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel also tried to contact Harrington.

"We left each other phone messages," he said.

As always, Crennel wouldn't bite when it came to questions about his quarterback dilemma.

"I haven't decided who my starter is going to be yet," he said. "I might name a starter before training camp. Whenever it is, I feel both of the guys can go in the game and play. When we go on the field we'll see who's best."

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