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GM Heckert on Free Agent moves.


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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When the NFL salary cap is removed -- in all probability -- for the 2010 free agent signing period beginning March 5, some teams have said they will operate under a self-imposed spending limit.


The Browns say they will not.


"We'll spend what we think we need to spend and be smart about it," said General Manager Tom Heckert. "We're going into it thinking we'll do what we need to do."


The team salary cap in 2009 was $127 million. Some teams have established their own cap of eight to 10 percent above that for 2010. Part of the reason for doing so is to keep the team salary structure in line in case a cap is re-established for 2011 or beyond.


"We have to be prepared [for a cap] just in case something does get done," Heckert said. "We're going to do what we think we need to do. We're not looking at it either way. If there are players we feel can help us, we'll go out and do it. I really don't think it's going to change much from that aspect."


Heckert said owner Randy Lerner has not given him a salary figure to not exceed.


"You just have to be smart, how you allocate money and be prepared for what's going to happen in the future ... which is unknown," he said.


Tracy Boulian / The Plain DealerAs a restricted free agent, Jerome Harrison's next salary offer from the Browns is also partially influenced by the league's rules of compensation by other teams if they make a competing offer.Decisions, decisions: Heckert said much of the work done on free agency by him and his new staff has been on evaluating the Browns' free agents. "We think we have a pretty good idea of what we're going to do, but we're not 100 percent locked in on that," he said.


The Browns' unrestricted free agents are receiver Mike Furrey, tight end Michael Gaines, guard Rex Hadnot, defensive back Hank Poteat, tackle Ryan Tucker and offensive lineman Billy Yates. Tucker has said in radio interviews that he considers his career over, though he has not filed retirement papers.


Furrey, a league finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, said at the Super Bowl that he hopes to return to the Browns, but he had no idea of their thinking.


The Browns' restricted free agents are safety Abram Elam, tight end Greg Estandia, running back Jerome Harrison, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, safety Brodney Pool, linebacker Matt Roth, linebacker Jason Trusnik and fullback Lawrence Vickers.


These present some interesting decisions. In order to protect against losing them, the Browns can tender each player a one-year contract offer based on pre-determined amounts. The size of the tender determines the level of draft-pick compensation the Browns would receive if another team signs a player to an offer sheet. The Browns would then have seven days to match the new offer.


A player's original draft status plays a role in this process. If the Browns tender a player the minimum of $1.176 million, another team can sign away the player for the cost of the player's original draft round. Elam and Trusnik were undrafted, so tendering them low could result in either leaving for nothing in return.


Jackson, Pool and Roth were all second-round picks. Harrison was taken in the fifth round and Vickers in the sixth.


Teams might feel Harrison and Vickers are bargains for fifth- and sixth-round picks, respectively, so the Browns might have to give them high tenders of $2.521 million (first-round compensation) to protect them from leaving.


There is also a second-round compensation tender, but because Jackson, Pool and Roth were originally taken in the second round, that option doesn't apply. The Browns either tender them for original draft compensation ($1.176 million) or first-round ($2.521 million).


Pool is the only player among the RFAs to complete five seasons, so his tenders are $100,000 higher than the four-year RFAs. Pool's tender for first-round compensation would be $2.621 million.


John Kuntz / The Plain DealerBrodney Pool (21) is looking forward to playing in 2010 after getting a good prognosis from physicians on his concussion problems, according to his agent. Pool not retiring: Pool's 2009 season ended when he suffered the fourth concussion of his career Nov. 29 at Cincinnati and missed the final five games. Pool, 25, contemplated retiring, but his agent said he plans to resume his career.


"Brodney absolutely intends on playing football for many years to come," agent Ben Dogra wrote in an email. "He has been checked out and has a clean bill of health. He is anxious to play football in 2010."


Medical updates: There have been no official updates on other Browns who finished the season on injured reserve. These include linebacker Eric Barton (neck), running back James Davis (shoulder), tight end Steve Heiden (knee), Jackson (pectoral), defensive lineman C.J. Mosley (ankle), quarterback Brady Quinn (foot), tackle Shaun Rogers (leg), linebacker David Veikune (knee) and punter Dave Zastudil (knee).


Heckert, however, said, "I think all these guys are going to be ready to go."


Back to school: Two Browns players were among 77 league-wide taking advantage of the NFL's Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program. Safety Mike Adams and tight end Robert Royal attended a four-day educational session at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


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