Couch due in Dallas? QB-to-Cowboys trade rumors bubbling
By Sean McClelland
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Dayton Daily News
If Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch has any fans left, they may be forced to start rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.
With Saturday's NFL Draft looming, a rumored trade of Couch to the Cowboys gained momentum Tuesday, sparking debate on radio call-in shows in Cleveland.
Originating on a Web site devoted to Cowboys coverage, SilverStarDigest.com, the rumor has the Browns sending Couch, running back Jamel White and this year's third-round draft choice (No. 84 overall) to Dallas for the Cowboys' first-round pick (No. 5 overall), veteran linebacker Dexter Coakley and either a fifth- or sixth-round selection.
There are streamlined versions. One that doesn't include Couch has the Browns simply dealing White to the Cowboys for a third-rounder.
While most rumored deals leading up to draft day never amount to anything, this one makes sense for the Browns on a variety of levels, especially since it seems they are ready to commit to Kelly Holcomb as their starting quarterback.
If Holcomb indeed is the chosen one, keeping Couch around as a backup would be a luxury. He would count $8 million against the salary cap this year. If they dump him, he would count $6 million this year, then nothing in future years.
As for White, his desire for a change of scenery is understandable. As long as William Green is around, third-down back is about the best he can expect.
Browns coach Butch Davis sounded in no hurry to part with White on Monday, saying, "We covet Jamel White. He is a terrific football player. He brings an added dimension to the football team in several different areas. He's proven his value."
White recently signed a one-year tender offer for $1.3 million that keeps him shackled to the Browns. "We're in the process of dealing with his agent (on a long-term contract)," team president Carmen Policy said. "I'm not saying it could happen before the draft, but I'm telling you serious negotiations are ongoing."
To teams seeking running backs, White's value is enhanced by the fact that this draft is weak in that area, with only one or two first-rounders projected. White entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent.
Securing the fifth pick would give the Browns two first-rounders — their own pick is the 21st overall — and perhaps open the path to still another deal. Given their salary-cap plight, sources say the Browns would look to peddle the fifth pick for a slew of lower choices rather than select a premier player such as Kansas State cornerback Terence Newman, Arizona State defensive end Terrell Suggs or Utah offensive tackle Jordan Gross.
Davis treasures draft picks. The Browns have seven at the moment, but he wants more. He and personnel maven Pete Garcia are working the phones furiously this week, sizing up the angles.
The Coakley part of the equation stems from the Browns' need for linebackers. He's a two-time Pro Bowler and a six-year starter on the outside, but new Cowboys coach Bill Parcells prefers bigger players at that position. Coakley, known for his speed, is 5-foot-10, 236 pounds, and does not fit the Parcells prototype.
Parcells supposedly is entertaining these talks with the Browns because he wants to win quickly and sees little likelihood of doing so with either Quincy Carter or Chad Hutchinson at quarterback. He reportedly sees Couch as a young Phil Simms and White as another Dave Meggett.
Then again, the Cowboys could wait until June 1 and scoop up quarterback Brian Griese when the Broncos release him. If they retain the No. 5 overall pick, they are expected to draft Newman or Suggs.
Losing Couch would put the Browns in the market for a backup quarterback lest they risk turning the job over to Josh Booty. Miami's Ken Dorsey, long a Davis favorite, could be there in the middle rounds. Veteran Elvis Grbac might be another option.