Browns owner Art Modell said he will not consider renaming his team until all the legal suits with the city of Cleveland have been settled.
Two weeks ago, lawyers for the Browns asked for a Dec. 4 trial date. The city, pleading a need for extensive pretrial investigation of team allegations, suggested March 3. No date has been set.
"Right now, we don't have a time frame because of the courts," said Modell. "Once we're able to clear ourselves of court action, we'll begin our marketing and survey campaigns.
"The name Browns has 50 years of tradition, but we have to give the people of Baltimore the name they want," he said.
In recent days, there have been reports that Modell might swap franchises with the Cincinnati Bengals, or that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would move to Cleveland and take the name Browns, with Modell's team becoming the Baltimore Bucs.
Modell denied those reports, and reiterated that the decision to rename his team will be primarily based on what the fans of Baltimore choose, not a name forced on the city by the league.
A source familiar with the negotiations also denied that a deal between the league and the Buccaneers had been struck, saying league officials have privately told owners of franchises that are looking to move not to talk with Cleveland officials until the suit is resolved.
"I don't believe the Glazers [Bucs owner Malcolm and his sons] have given up on Tampa Bay yet, and Cleveland's package is not totally together either," said the source.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no policy about other cities negotiating with Cleveland.
"We have no policy because there is not a need for one," said Aiello.
"Who can they approach in Cleveland? As far as the league is concerned, the Cleveland Browns are still in Cleveland."
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