According to a report by ProFootballTalk the Browns will not tender their restricted free agent OLB / DE Marcus Benard. What this means is that he will be unrestricted and free to sign anywhere on March 13th.
While it is somewhat surprising to me, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Benard won’t be back. If the Browns had tendered Benard, I believe the price tag would have been somewhere between $1 and $2 million. Considering Benard’s recent past, the Browns could be betting that he won’t find many suitors to drive his price up. If that comes to pass, they can invite him back to camp on a “prove it” basis.
For reference, the league minimum for players in Benard’s experience level is somewhere in the $700,000 range. If the Browns bring him in on that deal, they will be giving him a raise over what they paid him last season.
You’ll also remember the Browns willingly paid out the rest of Benard’s deal after he got hurt in a three-wheel motorcycle accident. It was wondered aloud by many if the Browns could have gotten out of paying Benard, but they didn’t seem to even explore it, showing some serious goodwill to the player.
Of course this could also be setting the stage for the Browns to take a run at one of the premier pass-rushing players available in free agency.