Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Day after returning to practice, Bentley released
By James Walker
BEREA, Ohio -- The story of LeCharles Bentley and the Cleveland Browns took another odd -- and final -- turn Wednesday.
In what has been a bizarre situation from the very beginning, Bentley skipped practice this morning to ask for his release. The Browns granted it, just 24 hours after the team announced that he passed his physical and was cleared to rejoin the team.
There were good vibes coming from both sides Tuesday after Bentley practiced with the team for the first time in nearly two years.
"He asked for permission for his release and it was granted," Bentley's agent, Jonathan Feinsod said. "When LeCharles originally signed with the Browns, their situation is entirely different than it was today. Because of his injury, the Browns didn't know if and when he was going to come back and had to make alternative plans."
Apparently, Bentley has alternative plans, too.
Bentley was arguably one of the best centers in the NFL when healthy, and he didn't want to remain in Cleveland as a backup. He will be looking to sign with another team before the season where he has a better opportunity to be a starter.
After signing a six-year, $36 million contract in 2006, Bentley never saw a down in a Browns uniform after having two knee surgeries in the past two years. He tore his patellar tendon during the first day of training camp two years ago and needed a second surgery to clear out a subsequent staph infection.
"We wish him the best," Browns general manager Phil Savage said. "As far as LeCharles and the Browns, I think this is a chapter that finally comes to an end. We got some closure to it now, and we can go our separate ways in a positive manner."
After two years of an up-and-down relationship between Bentley and the team, both sides will look to move on.
"There is no animosity with the Cleveland Browns," Feinsod said. "They had to do what they had to do. They couldn't sit back and wait, and they didn't."
The Browns improved their offensive line in Bentley's absence and that helped them transform an inept offense into one of the league's powerhouses.
"It was a unique circumstance, in terms of him being a local icon, playing at St. Ignatius, Ohio State," said Savage, referring to Bentley's local high school and college teams. "It was going to be the trifecta in playing for the Browns. It just didn't work out."
James Walker covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.