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Redskins Extend Offer to Brown

Defensive End Also Considering Denver

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page D03

The Washington Redskins offered a contract to defensive end Courtney Brown during his visit to Redskins Park on Thursday, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Brown is mulling the offer over the weekend before making a decision.

The Redskins have competition from the Denver Broncos, where Brown made his first visit Tuesday as an unrestricted free agent. And according to two sources who requested anonymity, the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder will decide by Monday between Washington and Denver.

Courtney Brown, 27, was the top overall pick in the 2000 draft but has been plagued by injuries. (2001 Photo Tony Dejak -- AP)

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The Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers had scheduled visits for Brown next week, sources said. But yesterday, the 27-year-old was expected to inform those teams that he is now considering only the Broncos or Redskins.

Brown's departure from Redskins Park on Thursday night without accepting Washington's offer was a mild surprise, considering owner Daniel Snyder and Coach Joe Gibbs's track record: Once the team persuades a free agent to visit Redskins Park, signing is usually a formality.

Although Gibbs played down that reputation Thursday, Redskins defensive tackle Brandon Noble -- who appeared at Redskins Park to meet with Brown -- said: "Whether or not they let him fly out without signing will be interesting. They've been known to lock people up until they sign."

Brown flew out Friday morning after informing the club that he wanted to mull his options, sources said. And Thursday, Gibbs said, "I don't think there's anything imminent."

Noble said he got the impression that Brown wouldn't make a snap decision. Noble -- who played with Brown at Penn State in 1996 -- and defensive end Phillip Daniels made their pitches to Brown during his visit.

The Broncos were about $1 million under the salary cap but are believed to be creating cap space in the hopes of signing Brown. The Redskins are about $2 million under the cap. A club source declined to reveal the team's offer, but said it has significant incentives tied to Brown's health.

Washington has an edge over Denver in intangibles: Brown, the top overall pick in the 2000 draft, is a former teammate of linebacker LaVar Arrington; and the two remain good friends. This week, the Redskins signed reserve safety Pierson Prioleau -- a stellar special-teams player -- who happens to be Brown's cousin.

One reason Denver appeals to Brown is that its defensive line coach is Andre Patterson, who had the same position in Cleveland and formed a rapport with him. Washington's Greg Blache, however, is considered one of the NFL's best defensive line coaches.

Brown also would be ensured a starting spot in Denver. Washington's starting defensive ends are Renaldo Wynn and Daniels. If Brown joins, Blache is expected to heavily rotate the threesome.

Hours after Brown was released on Monday, Gibbs and Blache flew to Cleveland for a dinner meeting with Brown and his wife, Candace. The trip was a preemptive move since Brown had scheduled a visit with Denver for Tuesday, which was extended to Wednesday morning.

Brown hasn't fully rehabilitated from surgery last fall to repair a torn Lisfranc ligament in his left foot. Brown reportedly failed a season-ending physical with the Browns.

However, sources said that the Redskins were satisfied with his condition after a physical. One source said that team doctors cleared Washington to assume the risks inherent with Brown's medical history.

Gibbs, who was unavailable to comment yesterday, said after Brown's visit: "We brought Courtney in and we gave him a physical so that we understand everything about his situation."

Redskins Note: Vice President Vinny Cerrato's wife, Rebecca, last week gave birth to their second child, Charles. . . .

Players are due back Monday at Redskins Park for the start of offseason workouts. . . .

Gibbs plans to attend the NFL's annual owners meetings, which take place Sunday through Wednesday in Maui, Hawaii. . . .

Last week, Gibbs said that the team had reached an agreement to re-sign offensive lineman Ray Brown. However, the 42-year-old still hasn't officially signed.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company