Daven Holly, the leading candidate to start at right cornerback for the Browns, blew his left knee out in practice Tuesday. General manager Phil Savage is confident Brandon McDonald will be a capable starter, but now the Browns are desperate for a nickel back.
"It takes a couple of hours to get your head around the fact that we're probably going to be looking for another corner, if we weren't already doing so," Savage said. "We've got a few options out there.
"We're considering bringing in a few guys for visits. There's always a trade possibility as well. We put some feeler calls out there to some other teams. We'll see what all this brings here in the next week or two."
Cornerback was already thin because the Browns did not replace Leigh Bodden after trading him and a third-round draft choice to the Lions for Shaun Rogers.
Savage is not eager to throw a pile of money at Ty Law. Law is 34 and would be in his 14th season. He would cost more than the Browns -- or any of the 31 other teams -- are willing to pay at this point.
Law was under contract to the Chiefs in 2008, but they released him rather than pay him $6.5 million he was due. For similar reasons, the Browns are not likely to open up trade talks with the Eagles for Lito Sheppard.
"That's another situation, another player whose name will be bandied about," Savage said. "Contractually, money wise, I don't think it's something that we'd be able to fit in our budget this year unless there is a complete 180 from where (Sheppard) was back before the draft."
Last week the Browns released defensive back Kenny Wright. There are no plans to re-sign him, Savage said.
Gary Baxter will not fill the void. He has not played since tearing both patellar tendons in 2006. He has not been cleared to practice, and if he does play again it will be as a safety, Savage said.
"The optimal is to find someone that can be in the top three," Savage said. "We've got two players now -- Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald -- we feel pretty good about, but beyond those two it's kind of wide open.
"We brought Jereme Perry back. A.J. Davis was here with us for the most of last season (on the practice squad), so those are the two that have the most experience. Beyond that it's a bit of an unknown."
Holly was in competition with McDonald to be the starting right cornerback. McDonald now has the position by default. Mike Adams, a safety, was in the slot as the nickel back Wednesday.
Undrafted rookies Gerard Lawson and Darnell Terrell, in addition to Perry and Davis, are candidates for backup cornerback roles from the players now on the roster.
"Any injury is a blow to our team, but you have to deal with it," coach Romeo Crennel said. "The commissioner isn't going to cancel any games, so you have to go forward. That's the nature of the sport. When things go bad, you have to suck it up, and try and get it right and make it better."
Holly was injured before signing his one-year tender of $1.417 million. Savage said the Browns will honor the contract.