BEREA — Former starting quarterback Jake Delhomme is on his way out, but kicker Phil Dawson appears to be coming back to the Browns.
A well-placed NFL source confirmed Wednesday that Delhomme will be released by Cleveland once the league-wide moratorium on transactions is lifted.
Browns general manager Tom Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur declined to comment, saying they were not permitted to do so until today at 4 p.m. when the first wave of roster moves becomes official.
Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita, however, jumped the gun by tweeting, “Best of luck to Jake Delhomme. One of my all-time favorites. Class act all the way.”
The 36-year-old Delhomme was paid $7 million for his one season with the Browns, along with $12.7 million in severance salary from the Carolina Panthers.
He finished the season as Cleveland’s third-stringer behind Colt McCoy and Seneca Wallace, virtually guaranteeing the team would not pick up his $5 million option.
Delhomme ends his Browns career with 872 passing yards, two touchdowns, seven interceptions and two right-ankle injuries in five games.
“Salary cap room is not an issue for us, but we’d much rather spend it on our young players that we have right now,” said Heckert, who still has $33.3 million to use this season. “We do like our players, so we’ll spend it, that’s not a question.”
Dawson, meanwhile, is on the verge of returning to the only NFL team he has played for.
The 13th-year pro was slapped with the Browns’ franchise player designation prior to the lockout, preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Though Dawson was eager to gauge other teams’ interest after last season, Heckert said he “had a very good conversation with Phil today, and we’ll see what happens.”
The GM added that he expects the kicker to report for the start of training camp Friday, which means Dawson will sign the one-year, $3.175 million contract tender Cleveland offered.
Dawson ranks third in Browns history with 1,063 points, trailing only Lou Groza (1,349) and Don Cockroft (1,080). He is the franchise’s all-time leader with 252 field goals and owns the NFL’s ninth-best career percentage at .832.
“There is a lot going on behind the scenes, believe me, but what we’re doing will start to become public tomorrow at 4,” Shurmur said.
In the meantime, Heckert has been busy trying to fill the 35 open spots on Cleveland’s 90-man training camp roster. He said 25 of those spots will go to college/street free agents.
Further complicating matters, the league’s new collective bargaining agreement prohibits any contracts from officially being signed until Friday at 6 p.m. — and those players won’t be allowed to step onto the practice field until Aug. 4.
“Don’t ask me why that is,” an exasperated Heckert said. “There are a lot of things in the CBA that are way over my intelligence. I don’t understand a lot of these rules.
“I’m sure you guys know this, but college free agents were supposed to be (able to agree to terms on Monday) morning, but it ended up starting at night, so it was kind of a free-for-all. I’m just glad we got a 10-year CBA because this has been crazy.”
Beyond the expected re-signings of Dawson and tight end Evan Moore — and the possible retention of safety Abram Elam — it appears the Browns will not be making a big splash in free agency.
Heckert all but guaranteed it when he said: “The most active we’re ever going to be was last year. We’ve talked to a zillion guys in the last couple of days, but we don’t expect to sign many. I don’t think there will be any major surprises, no, but I mean, it’s still Wednesday.”
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.