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Browns Could Miss Bentley...Forever

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Throughout this past season, all I kept thinking was "surely, LeCharles Bentley will make a firm statement that he's going to be back for the 2007 season." I knew that reports constantly doubted his status, but over and over again, I kept having hope. Unfortunately, as time goes on, things are looking bleak for Bentley's chances of playing this season, or at any time in his career (as DBN member Rayman reported here). Browns general manager Phil Savage stated that Bentley is considering a third operation to repair the patellar tendon he tore last training camp.

"If he does elect to have the surgery, then obviously he won't be here for 2007 as an active player," said Savage. "It's more likely he will have surgery."
According to Savage, if Bentley has the surgery, the Browns would still keep him on the roster for another season, and then re-evaluate him in 2008.
"We certainly owe LeCharles an opportunity to see where he's going to be," he said. "This time next year I think we'll have a much clearer picture in terms if he is really a legitimate piece of the puzzle here or has the injury been so devastating that he may never play again. That's something we'll know clearly this time a year from now."

"If we get LeCharles back this year, we would consider that a bonus," he said. "Right now our plans would have to be that he's probably not going to be here in '07."

Now, does any of this distort my belief, or hope, that Bentley will play this season? Until I officially hear that he has the surgery in May or June, I'm going to continue hoping day in and day out (while still keeping reality in the back of my mind, of course).

Now, there is some positive news regarding some other players, as Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Mary Kay Cabot reported this morning:

  1. Gary Baxter: The cornerback has exceeded doctor's expectations thus far as to how far he should be at this point. The Browns will take a heavy interest in Bills free agent cornerback Nate Clements, but if Baxter is able to come back, that could only be positive news and it would represent a Braylon Edwards type of recovery.
  2. Jason Wright: The team extended Wright's contract for another year through 2008. Whether he'll be the second or third running back, I think it's pretty safe to say that Wright will have a spot on the Browns roster for his now veteran gameship as well as his special teams contributions.
  3. Ryan Tucker: Tucker will be participating in the team's off-season program and plans to play in 2007 after his mental disorder this past season.
  4. Hank Fraley: According to Cabot, the Browns' interest in re-signing Hank Fraley has leapfrogged after the continuing bad news regarding Bentley.
  5. Brain Russell: For the moment, the same can't be said about the "glue" of our secondary. However, the Browns will probably make an offer to Russell after he becomes a free agent.
  6. Cap Room: The Browns have $30 million in cap room to spend in free agency, and it is expected that we will be active early and often.
The coin flip is coming soon for the third or fourth pick. Although I'm sure that the Buccaneers have an interest in Calvin Johnson, the third pick has a lot more value if the Browns would choose to trade down to someone.