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Restructuring Brown#039;s contract gives Cleveland more cap room

BEREA -- The Cleveland Browns restructured the contract for defensive end Courtney Brown, a former No. 1 overall draft pick whose career has been slowed by injuries the past two years.

By redoing Brown's $5.5 million deal for 2003, the Browns will receive nearly $2 million in relief under the salary cap this season, team president Carmen Policy said on Friday.

It's the second time this year that the Browns have made alterations to Brown's original six-year, $45 million deal. In March, they restructured a $1 million roster bonus as a signing bonus to free up more money under the salary cap.

Brown, selected first overall in 2000, has missed 16 games the past two seasons with injuries to both knees and his neck. After hurting his left knee in December, Brown missed the final four regular-season games and Cleveland's playoff matchup with Pittsburgh.

He had microfracture surgery, a radical procedure where small holes are drilled in the knee in hopes that scar tissue can replace damaged cartilage.

Policy said Brown was cleared by team doctors to begin practice, but the 6-foot-4, 280-pounder will be limited in how much he can do and will be closely monitored throughout camp.

Policy said restructuring Brown's deal was complicated but it was decision between the club and agent Marvin Demoff.

''It was totally mutual, and it did work out,'' Policy said.

To this point, the Browns haven't had the same luck with any of their 2003 draft picks.

None of the seven players, including center Jeff Faine, the Browns' first-round pick who is expected to start this season, has signed.

The Browns are attempting to sign the players to five-year deals, a change in their philosophy of past seasons. Normally, the club would sign players taken after the second round to three-year deals.

Faine should be signed and in camp this weekend, Policy said.