MEDIA Rudd signs with Browns : LUSENET : Purple : One Thread

Published: Monday, March 5, 2001

Rudd signs with Browns

Pioneer Press

---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- BILL WILLIAMSON STAFF WRITER ---------------------------------------------------------------------- -- The face of the Vikings' already vulnerable defense continued to change Sunday when free agent linebacker Dwayne Rudd signed with the Cleveland Browns. The move completes a two-day courtship of Rudd, 25, who received a five-year, $23 million contract that includes a signing bonus of $5.7 million. It appears likely the Vikings will fill Rudd's outside linebacker position with former University of Minnesota standout Craig Sauer. Rudd's was the second big-money signing since the NFL free-agency signing period began Friday. Former Vikings defensive lineman John Randle signed a five-year, $25 million deal, including a $5 million signing bonus, with Seattle on Saturday. The Vikings released Randle on Thursday in a salary-cap move. Rudd's departure was almost guaranteed. The Vikings had to trim more than $19 million just to get under the salary cap by Thursday. Thus, they had no chance to re-sign Rudd, their first-round pick in 1997. It was such a foregone conclusion that Rudd would not return, he put his Twin Cities house on the market in January. The Vikings and Rudd's agent, Mitch Frankel, had no contract extension talks during the offseason. While Rudd had an inconsistent four seasons with the Vikings, he was among their more productive defensive players. He was fourth on the team with 91 tackles last season, even though he missed two games with an injury. He didn't have any sacks last season after totaling 10 in his first three seasons. His best season was 1998, when he had 113 tackles and scored two touchdowns on fumble recoveries. In Cleveland, Rudd will be reunited with former Vikings defensive coordinator Foge Fazio, who has the same position with the Browns. Rudd arrived in Cleveland on Friday night. Saturday, Frankel flew in for the negotiations. Rudd was to visit Seattle on Sunday, but the visit was canceled when talks with the Browns progressed. With Rudd gone, Sauer will get his chance with the Vikings, who signed him last year because of his versatility and potential as a starter. He started 11 games for Atlanta from 1996-99 before joining the Vikings. He missed most of last season with an arch problem in his left foot that hampered him since before training camp. ``I'm excited about getting this opportunity,'' Sauer said Sunday. ''I feel I can be a quality starting linebacker and the Vikings brought me here in case there was an opportunity. Now that there is, I can't wait for the minicamps to get going

-- Mark (Karch, March 05, 2001


I remember being quite excited as I watched Rudd get snagged by the Vikings when he unexpectedly fell as far as he did in the 97 draft. I've always admired his speed, tackling ability and fired-up attitude. Actually, I considered him the best open-field tackler on the team. I'll miss him probably even more than I'll miss John Randle.

So Rudd's off to Cleveland to join Foge Fazio. Can Tony Williams be far behind?

-- Clark (, March 06, 2001.

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