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Couch disappointed in Browns' offer

BEREA, Ohio -- Free-agent quarterback Jeff Garcia has agreed to a contract with the Cleveland Browns -- and that means Tim Couch expects to turn in his orange helmet.

Late Monday night, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reported that Garcia has agreed in principle to a four-year, $25 million deal with the Browns.

Prior to the report, Couch discussed the possible arrival of Garcia.

"If they sign him, I'm sure I'd be gone," Couch said. "Then
whatever they want to do with me, cut me, trade me or do whatever
and I would hope to land somewhere where I could get a chance to
play."

Couch said he knew Cleveland was interested in Garcia but did not expect the Browns to make an offer.

"I was surprised a little, but I think if they're definitely
going to go with another guy, then Jeff is capable of coming in
here and getting the job done," he said.

There have been whispers for weeks that the Dallas Cowboys might be interested in trading for Couch and, with Cleveland adding Garcia, the rumors will probably be resurrected. In fact, it would not be surprising if the Browns retain Couch at least for a short time as they attempt to identify possible trade partners.

Were the Browns to release Couch before June 1, or trade him at any time, they would realize a salary cap savings of $5.936 million. If he is released after June 1, the cap savings would rise to $7.6 million, but it is doubtful Cleveland officials will wait another 2½ months before resolving his status.

There are probably a few other teams, the San Diego Chargers among them, also interested in Couch. But those teams likely would prefer to sign him as a free agent as opposed to trading for him.

The Browns had asked Couch to restructure the final two years
on his contract. He is due to make $7.6 million in 2004 and $8
million in 2005, and the team has offered a new deal that would
reduce those figures to $3 million and $3.5 million.

Couch and his agent, Tom Condon rejected the offer. Couch has
made more than $30 million in bonuses and salaries since being
drafted No. 1 overall in 1999.

"I was a little disappointed with the first offer," Couch
said. "I didn't expect it to be that big of a pay cut. We'll see
what happens."

After all the turmoil during his five seasons in Cleveland,
Couch says playing for the Browns is still his first choice and it
would be tough for him to leave.

"It would be hard because this is where I want to be," he
said. "I've been here for five years and I've got a lot of ties, a
lot of friends here. It would be a tough situation, but that's part
of the business."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.