Bentley Is Shelved By Cleveland

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: June 19, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — One of the NFL’s best stories of the off-season took a sour turn as Cleveland Browns center LeCharles Bentley was released by the team at his request.

Bentley had overcome a severely injured left knee and a life-threatening staph infection in the same knee to passing his physical was cleared to practice with the team during their recent OTA.

Unfortunately for the two-time Pro Bowl player, the Browns had found other options since Bentley’s injury on the first 11-on-11 drill of training camp in ’06.

The Browns’ O-line anchored by rookie Pro Bowl offensive tackle Joe Thomas along with center Hank Fraley, guard Ryan Tucker, guard Rex Hadnot and tackle Eric Steinbach had a solid ’07 season helping to produce 46 touchdowns.

Browns GM Phil Savage said of Bentley’s struggle to return, “It’s been a long road back for LeCharles. We have to give him a lot of credit for the amount of work and effort he’s put into this.”

When it became obvious to Bentley that there was little to no chance of him cracking the starting five, the hulking center asked for and received his release.

Bentley’s agent Jonathan Feinsod said of the release, “LeCharles is not ready to be an insurance policy at this point, (Bentley) did great on his physical and I know the Browns were very impressed. It wasn’t anything about his health. He just feels he was not going to play the kind of role here he plans to play in 2008”.

Feinson added, “He had a near-death experience because of a staph infection and now he’s completely healthy and ready to resume his All-Pro and Hall of Fame career”.

The release of the former Ohio State All-American unfortunately ends his brief career with his hometown team.Bentley will now look for a home with rumored teams of interest from the Arizona Cardinals (he has lived there during his rehab), Philadelphia Eagles (had an interest before), New England Patriots (need insurance w/ the Nick Kaczur situation), Houston Texans (trying to fix a shaky line) and Dallas Cowboys (seem to be interested in every high profile free agent).