March 29, 2005 wire reports

DENVER -- The Denver Broncos are close to signing former Browns defensive lineman Courtney Brown to a free-agent contract.


Brown, the top pick in the 2000 draft, was pursued by Denver, Washington, Seattle and Jacksonville after his release by the Browns earlier this month but decided to sign with the Broncos, a source close to the team, told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

He has agreed to terms of a one-year deal with options to increase it to five, the Denver Post reported, although no contract had been finalized Tuesday. The Rocky Mountain News and the Gazette of Colorado Springs also reported the story.

Brown's agent, Marvin Demoff, did not immediately return phone messages left at his office by the AP, but he told the Gazette: "I think (Denver) had everything he was looking for. If he had a list of 10 things, they hit on all 10."

Brown's addition will give the Broncos a pair of former Cleveland defensive linemen, neither of whom lived up to their first-round draft status. Earlier this offseason, Denver traded for Gerard Warren, the first-round pick in 2001. The Broncos also hired defensive line coach Andre Patterson, who coached Warren and Brown in Cleveland.

Courtney Brown has missed 33 games over his five-year career with Cleveland, including 14 last season with a torn ligament in his foot. He has 17 career sacks.

"The question is, can he stay healthy?" coach Mike Shanahan said at the NFL meetings last week. "And I think that's where he is -- he wants to step up, too."

The Brown signing is the latest step in the revamping of the Denver line.

The Broncos have given Trevor Pryce, injured for most of last season, permission to seek a trade. He will count more than $9 million against their salary cap next season and the Broncos would like to rework that deal or trade him.

The Associated Press News Service

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