INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cleveland Browns have a new head coach and a new defensive scheme and it appears that combination means Gerard Warren will have a new home for the 2005 season.
The four-year veteran defensive tackle, who many feel has not fulfilled the potential that made him the third player chosen overall in the 2001 draft, has been granted permission to discuss possible trade scenarios with other franchises, ESPN.com has learned. Team officials, sources told ESPN.com, went so far as to apprise Warren and his agent via letter that they were free to seek out deals.
It is believed that agent Joel Segal has already received interest from several teams and will meet with officials from those clubs this weekend at the annual combine workouts being held here. Several general managers quickly surveyed here on Thursday evening acknowledged they would at least explore a possible trade for Warren.
"Has he been everything he was advertised to be coming out (of college)?" asked one general manager. "Hell, no, he hasn't. But he's still a 300-pound guy who can be very active at times. Go shake a tree and see how many of those kinds of guys fall out."
In such circumstances, a player's agent typically seeks out suitors, and then tells the incumbent club about any interest he generates. Permission to seek a trade does not often result in a deal but Warren could draw considerable interest, even given the perception he has frequently underachieved. It is not known what the Browns would seek in return for Warren, who has only one year remaining on his contract.
While it is not certain if Cleveland will release Warren should a trade not be completed, that is a strong likelihood, particularly with the direction of the defense under first-year head coach Romeo Crennel.
Cleveland will attempt to switch in 2005 to the 3-4 defensive front that Crennel favored during his stretch as the New England Patriots defensive coordinator. That switch alone jeopardized Warren's stint in Cleveland, since the former University of Florida standout is more a 4-3 interior player, and probably not suited to playing at nose tackle in a three-man front. Neither was it likely that Warren could have made the switch to end in a 3-4.
Often criticized because his modest statistics never approximated the huge investment that Cleveland had in him, Warren, nicknamed "Big Money," nonetheless will have value in the market.
Warren, 26, has appeared in 60 games and started all but one of them. He has recorded 152 tackles, 10½ sacks, four forced fumbles and nine passes defensed.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.