BEREA — The trip from Detroit is less than three hours, so Shaun Rogers decided to leave his baggage behind.
“It gives me a new lease on life,” Rogers said Tuesday of a trade to the Browns. “I’m just excited to be here. They weren’t happy with my services and somebody welcomed me with open arms.
“Hopefully I can be a big part of the plan and go out there and try to be dominant and help bring a championship to the Browns.”
Rogers, a defensive lineman, spent seven years with the Lions after they drafted him in the second round in 2001. He made two Pro Bowls, started 96 of 98 games and compiled 447 tackles and 29½ sacks, but drew criticism for inconsistent play, a questionable attitude and an expanding waistline.
He had three years and $16.5 million in base salary remaining on his contract, but the Lions were desperate to dump him before owing a $1 million bonus March 1. When a deal with the Bengals fell through, they traded him to the Browns on Friday for cornerback Leigh Bodden and a third-round draft choice.
Cleveland general manager Phil Savage was a willing recipient, as he was desperate to fix the defensive line. He envisioned teaming the highly talented Rogers (6-foot-4, 340 pounds) with the highly motivated Corey Williams (6-foot-4, 313), who was acquired Friday in a trade with Green Bay.
“I’m real excited about what Shaun will be able to bring to the table for the Browns in a new situation, with a new coach,” Savage said after Rogers passed a physical to make the trade official. “With Romeo’s background with the defensive line, we feel real good about this.”
Head coach Romeo Crennel was an NFL line coach for 13 years.
“Anybody who knows the sports world knows Mr. Crennel and his credentials,” Rogers said. “There most definitely is a respect level there and I’m glad to be under his wing.”
Rogers, who will turn 29 on March 12, was suspended for four games in 2006 for taking a banned dietary supplement. He declined to give his current weight — he said he likes to play at a “comfortable weight” — but didn’t appear to be close to 400 pounds, as some rumors out of Detroit suggested. That doesn’t mean he’s tiny — he looks taller than 6-4 and dwarfed Crennel.
“I was born 10 pounds and 1 ounce. So it’s always been an issue,” Rogers said. “But I’ve managed to play good football throughout my life.”
Rogers started all 16 games in 2007, totaling 66 tackles and seven sacks. He also returned an interception 66 yards for a touchdown, completing the feat with a somersault in the end zone. That shows the rare athletic ability he possesses.
“He’s a dominant guy along the line of scrimmage,” Crennel said. “Shaun still has a lot of upside. He’s going to be a good fit and help improve this defense.
“We’re going to get the most out of him.”
Rogers said he carries no hard feelings toward the Lions nor has anything to prove to his critics up north.
“I feel like I played good ball throughout,” he said. “Hopefully I can come here and lift it up a notch.
“The past is the past. I’m just excited to develop a new reputation and just move on.”
Rogers said he’s never played in a 3-4, but Crennel is counting on him to play nose and end and team with Williams and holdovers Shaun Smith and Robaire Smith to form a four-man rotation. Youngsters Louis Leonard, Melila Purcell and Chase Pittman will compete for the two other roster spots.
“With my size and some of the abilities I have, I think I can adapt well,” Rogers said of the 3-4. “I truly, honestly believe my ability to disrupt the offense has been duly noted and given the right situation I can most definitely do that on a more consistent basis.”
Brad Blank, the agent for free-agent linebacker Darryl Blackstock (6-3, 244), said Blackstock is scheduled to visit the Browns today. Blackstock has been a reserve linebacker and special teamer with the Cardinals in his three-year career. Blank said the Dolphins, Bengals and Cardinal are also interested.
** The Browns re-signed special teamer Nick Sorensen to a three-year deal. He played nine games for the Browns last year after signing on Oct. 24. He ranked fifth on the team with 14 special teams tackles.
He’s also a backup safety.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.