Source: Browns Back In Hunt For Ricky Williams

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Browns passed on running back Ricky Williams (pictured, right) a few years ago in the NFL draft. Now, they're fighting the Miami Dolphins for him.

The Browns have renewed trade talks with the New Orleans Saints, and according to an NFL management source, have dangled their first-round draft pick (No. 16 or 17 overall) for Williams.

Cleveland made the offer on Monday said the source, speaking on the condition of anonymity. As late as Sunday, the Browns had appeared resigned to letting Williams go to Miami.

The Browns have given Saints general manager Randy Mueller some choices.

The Dolphins are believed to have packaged their first-round (25th overall) and a fourth-round pick this year plus other considerations for Williams. Rick Spielman, their personnel director, confirmed on Monday they had made a bid.

Browns spokesman Todd Stewart said the team would not comment on trade talks.

Cleveland has also talked with free agent wide receiver Cris Carter.

Carter, who grew up in Ohio and starred at Ohio State, visited Cleveland on Tuesday. The 16-year veteran voided his deal with the Minnesota Vikings last week to become a free agent and has said he's interested in playing with the Browns.

Carter, who has scored 129 career touchdowns, has also scheduled a visit with the St. Louis Rams on Wednesday.

Cleveland's chances of signing Carter could improve if the Browns sign safety Robert Griffith, a close friend of Carter's and his teammate in Minnesota. Griffith, who visited the Browns on Monday, and Carter are both represented by Mitch Frankel.

Carter would be an ideal fit for the Browns, who have a young receiving corps and need another threat to complement wideout Kevin Johnson.

The Saints, who used their No. 1 draft pick last season on running back Deuce McAllister, have been trying to trade Williams for months.

Former New Orleans coach Mike Ditka gave up all of the Saints' draft picks in 1999 to get Williams, who has irked the team by skipping off-season workouts and who was stopped last week by police for speeding at 126 mph.

Cleveland's ongoing interest in Williams could make their talks with free agent Garrison Hearst difficult. Hearst, the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2001, was also in Cleveland on Tuesday for a visit.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)