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Browns release leading tackler Griffith

CLEVELAND (Feb. 28, 2005) -- Safety Robert Griffith was released by the Cleveland Browns, as new coach Romeo Crennel continued his overhaul of the team.

Griffith, who was due a roster bonus on March 2, spent three seasons in Cleveland, which signed him as a free agent in 2002 after eight years with the Minnesota Vikings. The 34-year-old led the Browns with 157 tackles last season.

However, Griffith's age and Crennel's intention to upgrade the Browns up the middle made him expendable.

"After three years in Cleveland, the Browns and I have decided that it is in both of our best interests that I become a free agent," Griffith said in a statement released by the team.

Griffith started 44 games for the Browns, finishing with 408 tackles, six interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one sack. However, the club didn't get the production it had hoped out of him until last season.

"I know Robert has been the consummate professional as a member of the Cleveland Browns the last three years," Crennel said.

Griffith's departure is the latest move by Crennel to remake the Browns, who are coming off a disastrous 4-12 season. Last week, the Browns gave defensive tackle Gerard Warren and running back William Green permission to seek trades.

The Browns also have been in contract talks with quarterback Kelly Holcomb, who can become a free agent on March 2. Holcomb's agent, Frank Bauer, met with Crennel and general manager Phil Savage during the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Bauer reportedly did not like the Browns' initial offer to the injury-prone Holcomb, who has been with Cleveland for three years. If the sides can't reach an agreement by March 2, Holcomb will test the free-agent market.

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