Browns DE Jayme Mitchell is open to re-signing with Cleveland, he told PFW Thursday. Mitchell, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent, said his agent, Lamont Smith, spoke with the club before the lockout, and there is mutual interest between both sides.
Dwaine Board, the Browns' new DL coach, has told Mitchell he will have a chance to compete to start at left defensive end should he re-sign, Mitchell said.
Mitchell, 27, said that re-signing with Cleveland would be "a preference" but getting an opportunity to start would be paramount in his free-agency search. Mitchell, who is entering his sixth NFL season, has appeared in 29 games, all as a reserve.
"I want to get somewhere I can start," he said.
The Browns acquired Mitchell in October, but he did not appear in a single game. The 6-6, 285-pound Mitchell, who had played in the Vikings' 4-3 scheme since 2006, said he had requested a trade from Minnesota in the 2010 offseason seeking more playing time after sensing he wasn't going to get it playing for head coach Brad Childress. However, Mitchell, who played in two games for Minnesota in 2010, recording one sack, was "shocked" to be traded to Cleveland, which employed a 3-4 scheme last season.
Mitchell told PFW he believes his inactivity in Cleveland was tied to his technique. He said that once he became better versed in the Browns' defense, he asked then-head coach Eric Mangini and then-DL coach Bryan Cox why he wasn't playing. The answers he received, Mitchell said, sounded like "a bunch of bs," but he also noted that the explanations could have been rooted in how the Browns employed their defensive scheme.
Mitchell likely would have a better chance at earning a regular role with the Browns this season with Cleveland going back to the 4-3 and general manager Tom Heckert publicly saying re-signing Mitchell is a "top priority." With a frustrating 2010 season in the rearview mirror and free agency set to start once the league year begins, Mitchell has an eye on the future.
"I'm very excited about it," Mitchell said of the potential of playing more in 2011, whether in Cleveland or elsewhere. "I can't wait until the lockout gets past."