Even with the free agent market reduced to a trickle for most players still available, there continues to be an avid, and rather inexplicable, flash flood of interest in one of the most star-crossed first-round picks in recent history.
Defensive end Courtney Brown, released by the Cleveland Browns a week ago following a dismal and injury-plagued five-year tenure, arrived Sunday evening in Jacksonville, Fla. for a meeting with Jaguars coaches and officials. While other remnant players in the veteran free agent pool have mostly been sitting home of late, waiting for the telephone to ring, the trip to Jacksonville marks the third visit for Brown since his release.
Last week, Brown met with officials from the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos, and both teams are believed to have made contract offers or at least discussed parameters with the five-year veteran and agent Marvin Demoff. There were indications that Brown would choose between the two teams, possibly by Monday, and eschew other trips.
The visit with the Jaguars means that Brown has extended his options by one more team. Whether he meets with other franchises that have contacted him -- Tampa Bay, Seattle and Cleveland, which hopes to re-sign him for substantially less than the $8 million in total compensation he was scheduled to earn in 2005 -- remains to be seen.
It is believed that the contract offers Brown has received to this point are incentive-laden deals that would increase with value if he plays well and, most important, stays healthy. Because he has been on the field so little in his disappointing career, it is relatively easy to craft a contract that features easily-reachable performance and play-time bonuses.
With the visit to Jacksonville, the timetable for a decision by Brown on where he will play in 2005 is now uncertain.
Like the other clubs with which he has visited, Jacksonville believes Brown will fully recover from the left foot injury that limited him to just two games in 2005, and perhaps reach the kind of productivity that has eluded him to this point in his career. And like those other clubs, as well, the Jaguars are counting on some familiarity between Brown and some members of their coaching staff to help swing him their way.
Jaguars defensive line coach Ray Hamilton held the same position in Cleveland during two of Brown's seasons there. Secondary coach Dave Campo was defensive coordinator in Cleveland the past two seasons.
In 2004, Jacksonville got just 11½ sacks from its defensive ends and 5½ of those came from career linebacker Greg Favors, who played end in obvious passing situations. The Jaguars last month made one major move, the signing of former Broncos starting end Reggie Hayward to a five-year, $25 million contract, aimed at upgrading the pass rush. Landing Brown, they obviously feel, would provide another veteran rusher.
But in five seasons, Brown has just 17 sacks, and has never demonstrated the kind of upfield explosiveness Cleveland saw in him when it made him the first overall choice in the 2000 draft. Cleveland paid him approximately $27 million for five years and Brown missed 33 games with knee, ankle, neck, biceps and foot injuries.
Brown, 27, finished each of the last four seasons on injured reserve. He continues to rehabilitate from what is known as a Lis Franc sprain to his left foot, an injury from which only a few players have recovered and enjoyed productive careers.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.