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Published: Wednesday, 3/5/2014

Browns release troubled Bess

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Bess Bess
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CLEVELAND — Davone Bess had a disappointing first season with the Browns. His offseason was far more disturbing.

The team released the troubled wide receiver today, ending his stay in Cleveland after less than one year and following a pattern of bizarre behavior that included his arrest for assaulting a law enforcement officer.

Bess, who was acquired last April from Miami, never lived up to on-field expectations and his personal problems gave the Browns no alternative but to end their relationship.

The team announced his release with one line on the team's Twitter account.

Bess, 28, is still owed $3.06 million for 2014, but the Browns may try to recoup some of that money. A team spokesman would not say if Bess had broken any agreements on his contract.

The Browns traded for Bess during the draft last year, and the team immediately signed the sure-handed veteran to a three-year, $11.5 million contract extension that included $5.75 million guaranteed. The Browns believed Bess would fill a hole at slot receiver and bring leadership to their young wideouts, including Josh Gordon, Greg Little and Travis Benjamin.

However, Bess didn't deliver at all and his personal problems escalated in recent months.

Bess finished with career-lows in catches (42) and yards (362) last season, and he had several crucial drops that hurt the Browns. Bess, who spent his first five NFL seasons with the Dolphins, also muffed a punt in Kansas City, costing the Browns a chance to upset the then-unbeaten Chiefs. He never ducked any criticism for the poor performance, owned up to his mistakes and bounced back with two touchdown catches the following week in a win over Baltimore.

However, he missed Cleveland's final two games for personal reasons and after the season ended, other issues surfaced.

One day after Bess left the team, a photo posted on his Instagram account showed him sitting on a deck next to a picture of reggae icon Bob Marley and lighting a cigarette or joint with a Rastafarian flag draped around his shoulders and neck. The following day, the Browns placed him on the reserve/​non-football illness list and former coach Rob Chudzinski explained Bess was dealing with a family issue.

On Jan. 16, Bess posted a photo on his Twitter page of a small package containing what appeared to be marijuana. The photo was later deleted, but it raised further questions about his judgment.

Those concerns grew the following day when Bess was charged with assault on an officer, resisting arrest without violence and disorderly conduct following a confrontation at Fort Lauderdale/​Hollywood International Airport.

According to the police report, Bess was "acting irrationally, dancing, singing with his pants repeatedly falling down." Bess also reportedly took up a "fighting stance" with the officer, who hit Bess on the leg with a baton to no effect.

It was later learned that Bess had a run-in with police shortly before he was traded to Cleveland and his family had him hospitalized against his will.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he did not know about Bess' hospitalization before the team traded for him. The team initially vowed to support Bess, who may still face NFL discipline for his legal misstep. It's not yet clear if he plans to continue his football career.

The team also released wide receiver Brian Tyms and linebacker Paul Hazel.

Bengals tender offer to Sanzenbacher

CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals made tender offers to receivers Dane Sanzenbacher and Andrew Hawkins, as well as linebacker Vincent Rey and on Wednesday, leaving them restricted free agents.

They can negotiate with other teams as of Sunday, but the Bengals will have the right to keep them by matching any offer. They can get a deal from another team up until May 2.

Sanzenbacher, who played at Central Catholic and Ohio State, started one game and appeared in 10, getting six catches for 61 yards.

Hawkins missed the first half of last season with an ankle injury. He finished with 12 catches for 199 yards.

Rey played in every game and filled in when middle linebacker Rey Maualuga missed three games with a knee injury. He had four sacks and 54 tackles.

Lions release guard Harris, sign DT Irvin

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions cut guard Leroy Harris and signed defensive tackle Corey Irvin.

Harris played in only one game last season, the last one of the regular season against Minnesota. He was signed last year by the Lions to compete to start at right guard, a job that was won by rookie Larry Warford. Harris previously started 42 of 76 games for the Tennessee Titans.

Irvin played in six games as a reserve last season in Dallas. He has played in 24 career games, all as a backup, for the Cowboys, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Carolina. The Panthers selected him in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Georgia.

Also:

STEELERS: Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller are doing their part to help Pittsburgh get under the 2014 salary cap.

The eight-time Pro Bowl safety and the venerable tight end both signed new three-year contracts with the team designed to give the Steelers some cap relief before the new league year begins next week.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but both contracts are designed to give Pittsburgh some flexibility heading into free agency as the Steelers look for answers following consecutive 8-8 seasons.

The Steelers also cut linebacker Larry Foote, cornerback Curtis Brown and offensive tackle Levi Brown.

Polamalu, 32, is coming off a bounce back year in which he played in all 16 games after being limited by injuries in 2012.

The deal came hours after the Steelers re-signed safety Will Allen, meaning it's unlikely Pittsburgh will make any attempt to bring back Ryan Clark, who will become a free agent next week.

Miller, 31, caught 58 passes for 593 yards and a touchdown in 2013 after sustaining a major right knee injury at the end of the 2012 season.

RAVENS: Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta got a new five-year, $32 million contract that fulfills his desire to remain with the Ravens rather than become an unrestricted free agent.

Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012, then added 14 more receptions and three more scores in Baltimore's run to a world championship. Last year, he had 20 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown — numbers that would have project to 80 catches for 676 yards over a full season.



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