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Browns owner Jimmy Haslam signs off on team bringing in Ray Rice

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Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam reportedly has given the go-ahead for the team to bring in Ray Rice, but will allow those in charge of running the football operations side of the organization make the final decision, reports ESPN’s Pat McManamon.

Even though Haslam has authorized a possible move on Rice, it does not necessarily mean that any decision on the out-of-work running back is imminent. Browns general manager Ray Farmer, speaking before the team’s preseason game Thursday night against the Washington Redskins, indicated the potential of Rice joining the team isn’t even worth discussing at this point.

“Right now I’d say it’s all premature in my mind,” he said. “We’re interested in seeing what our young guys can do. Focused on them. Giving them the opportunity to demonstrate whether they can or they can’t.

“I think we’ve got some talented young guys. Ray’s had his career. We kind of know what he is. We think we know. There’s a lot of tape.”

The Browns currently have a stable of young running backs, including Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, both of whom performed well in their rookie seasons last year. The Browns also have rookie Duke Johnson on the roster.

Whatever happens between the Rice and the Browns aside, Haslam reportedly told ESPN’s Bob Holtzman that he hopes Rice gets another chance in the NFL.

The Browns, though, have been disappointed thus far with the performance of their young running backs, and head coach Mike Pettine indicated earlier this week that there have been internal discussions about bringing in the controversial back.

Rice hasn’t generated any real interest on the free-agency market, in part because he had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2013 but mostly due to the troubling domestic violence incident involving then-fiancée-now-wife Janay Rice.

In the end, it will all come down to how much of a public relations fallout the Browns — or any other team, for that matter — are willing to absorb in exchange for a 28-year-old running back whose best years may be behind him.