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Browns reach agreement with rookie Wimbley

CLEVELAND (July 22, 2006) -- The Cleveland Browns reached an agreement in principle with first-round draft pick Kamerion Wimbley on a six-year deal, his agent said.

The linebacker, taken 13th overall, is the second player selected in the first round to reach a deal. No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams signed with the Houston Texans before the draft.

Agent Joe Linta said Wimbley's deal includes $9.3 million in guaranteed money and is a 9.5 percent increase over what the 13th pick received last year. The agreement means Wimbley will be the first top pick to open training camp on time with the Browns since Courtney Brown in 2000.

"I told these guys we have two choices. We can finish this thing and go first or sit around and play chess until the No. 12 and No. 14 get done," Linta said.

The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Wimbley, a speedy defensive end at Florida State, was selected to help improve Cleveland's weak outside pass rush. He will switch to outside linebacker in Cleveland's 3-4 scheme and could contribute immediately on a team that had a league-low 23 sacks last season.

Wimbley recorded 7.5 sacks in nine starts as a senior with the Seminoles. Browns training camp opens July 26.

Having their top pick present will be a change for the Browns who have dealt with holdouts Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards in recent years.

Wimbley most likely would start off as part of a three-man rotation at outside linebacker, coach Romeo Crennel has said.

His contract includes a sixth year that's voidable if he's on the field for at least 35 percent of the plays his rookie year or at least 45 percent of the plays in any following year.

The Browns could then buy back the sixth year at a higher cost. Linta said $23.7 million is the maximum that Wimbley could earn under the contract.

"This was very difficult because it's the first deal outside of Mario Williams under the new (collective bargaining agreement)," Linta said.

Linta also represents Crennel, but said his relationship with the coach had no effect on Wimbley's contract talks.

Linta credited the Browns' willingness to be fair as the reason an agreement was reached after just the second day of meetings at the team's headquarters.

The deal likely will influence other teams' talks with their first-round picks, who often wait to see what the players drafted near them are getting before signing a contract.

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