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Published: Saturday, 2/26/2005

Changes in works for Browns

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Warren Warren
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INDIANAPOLIS - Quarterback Jeff Garcia, it turns out, was only the first head to roll.

Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage said yesterday that two former first-round draft picks, defensive tackle Gerard Warren and running back William Green, have been given permission to seek trades.

Then, coach Romeo Crennel expressed the need to revamp the Browns' offensive line, which may have been a message for center Jeff Faine, yet another of former coach Butch Davis' first-round picks.

Savage, who is attending the NFL Scouting Combine at the RCA Dome, said he met with Warren on Tuesday and "laid out some of our thoughts."

He did not meet with Green, but informed the running back's agent that he was free to pursue a trade. Savage said neither Warren nor Green requested the moves.

"We're trying to be up-front and honest," Savage said.

Green Green
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Warren's status with the Browns is likely hurt by Crennel's intention to switch defensive schemes from the 4-3, in which defensive tackles are marquee players, to a 3-4 alignment that features two defensive ends and a nose tackle. The latter is used more to occupy blockers while linebackers are the impact players.

"I think any good player will fit into any defensive structure," Savage said, "but we're trying to do what's best for the team and what's best for Gerard. We're certainly not ruling out the chance that he'll be with us next season. He would be affordable for a defensive lineman.

"But part of our evaluation would be based on what he might bring in terms of a potential trade versus what he would bring by returning to the team."

Warren would cost Cleveland less than $1 million next season, but his compensation would jump to $7.6 million in 2006 based on a re-negotiation that the Browns surely have no intention of picking up.

Warren has been mostly a bust since becoming the third overall pick in the 2001 draft. He has never recorded more than 5 1/2 sacks in one season and dipped to just 33 total tackles in 2004.

Asked if Warren was given a deadline to make a deal, Savage said the 6-4, 325-pounder is due a roster bonus on March 2 and, barring an extension, would like to have the issue decided by then.

Green, the 16th overall selection in the 2002 draft, missed half of the 2003 season due to a league suspension for off-field issues and then lost his starting job to Lee Suggs in '04. Green had 163 carries, few late in the season, for 585 yards.

"We have running backs that can be productive," Crennel said. "But we're always moving to improve. And it's no secret we have to re-work our offensive line."

Savage said the Browns were "really focusing" on guards and centers at the Combine.

"Will we use the No. 3 draft pick for that purpose? Maybe, maybe not. But it will be addressed in short order," Savage said.

Meanwhile, the Browns will continue to pursue their own free agent quarterback, Kelly Holcomb, while developing contingency plans for that position.

"We're certainly zeroed in on Kelly," Savage said. "He's a starting point for us and our coaches feel they can help him be a productive player. But we're keeping a sharp eye on a lot of quarterbacks here this weekend. We're sitting up there with the No. 3 pick in the draft, so we need to get to know all of those guys very well."

Contact Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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