Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hidden Messages

PFT says that the Browns may be trading for Trent Green.

I don't give this much creedence:
A) The "report" comes from the Chiefs, who are trying to get more out of Miami for Green (last I heard, Miami was only offering a 7th round pick, and KC wants something alot higher). Miami can play the waiting game, since it is assumed the Cheifs will cut Green this summer, so obviously the Chiefs would love to drum up a bidding war by claiming another team is interested.
B) Phil Savage said the other day that they wouldn't be signing a veteran QB. While this could be pre-draft posturing, obviously any posturing would be totally destroyed by going and getting a QB before the draft.

I have said all along that I don't buy the whole "veteran QB" thing. Sure, it works occassionally, but more often it seems to lead to failure:
- Drew Bledsoe to Buffalo (and Dallas)
- Jeff Garcia to Cleveland and Detroit
- Daunte Culpepper to Miami
- Trent Dilfer to Cleveland
- Kurt Warner to New York and Arizona

Do we really want to add Trent Green to that list at the cost of $7M per year? If anything, sign some more linemen and see how Frye and Anderson do with a little pass protection.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Even a rotten apple has a core

Pat McManamon had a discussion with Randy Lerner. Again Pat is harping on the spending issue. Are there really fans who care how much we spend? Please leave a comment (if blogger lets you) and let me know if you are concerned with how much of Randy's money is becoming Eric Steinbach's money.

Randy is trying to make the (valid) point that we're still trying to build the personel on the team. He had this list of "core" players who are on the team now:

``I have (Joe) Jurevicius, (Orpheus) Roye, Kellen Winslow, Braylon Edwards, Kamerion Wimbley, Sean Jones, Brodney Pool, Eric Jamal Lewis, Andra Davis, Charlie Frye, D'Qwell Jackson, Leigh Bodden, Josh Cribbs for special teams certainly if not other, Steve Heiden, and emerging players like Leon Williams, Lawrence Vickers, Jerome Harrison, Travis Wilson,'' he said. ``So... that's 18. Now are they the 18 of the 35? No. Do we still have holes to fill?''
He then answered his question with another question.
``Do we want to make sure that we have the right wideout, quarterback, running back, pass rusher, cover corner and defensive lineman to really fill out the critical positions?'' he said. ``We got holes to fill, there's no doubt.
``Hopefully we get one or two of those filled this year in the draft. (But) the picture that I'm working off of is not so much to be alarmed by the turnover.''

Charlie Frye? Jerome Harrison? Travis Wilson? Leon Williams? Even if they are "emerging" players (which is certainly debatable), they are not "core", at least as I understand the word.

Meanwhile, there is a conspicuous absence of Offensive Linemen, and I don't know that this is entirely justified. Before 2006, Ryan Tucker would certainly be a core player, and there is hope that he may return to that status. I would call Hank Fraley core. Kevin Schaffer is good to have, although I would prefer to be able to upgrade left tackle and move him to a less demanding position.

Reversals of fortune

Rumors swirling last week were that:
> Winslow could miss '07 because of longer-than-expected recovery from knee surgery
> Bentley could make it back by October

Leave it to Steve Doerschuk (via WTAM) and ONLY Steve Doerschuk to share Phil Savage's rebuttal of these rumors:
> Winslow is on pace to be back for '07
> Bentley is expected to have another knee surgery in May, making an '07 comeback impossible
> Baxter is making progress, but no word on what that means. The fact that he is even WALKING is progress, but it doesn't necessarily help the Browns

I guess the PD and ABJ don't report this stuff because WTAM got the scoop, and they are "above" reporting other organizations' exclusives. I guess that is their business, but I prefer Doerschuk who is more about reporting Browns news, not getting the exclusive.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Avoiding minced words

Any draft analysis I've thrown out there so far should have the following disclaimer attached: Any daydreams involving us drafting a QB, WR, or RB are based purely on whether or not we CAN get the player, not whether we SHOULD get the player.

I still maintain that we need to invest a majority of draft picks in our offensive and defensive lines.

Bitterfans had a good post that reminded me that, despite my musing about whether or not Quinn or Russell will fall to us, the #1 priority should be: if Joe Thomas falls to us and we can't finegle a trade down, we MUST take him, end of story. By all reports, he's too good of a player, and tackle is too big of a need.

I'm still not ready to put together my list of who we should go after, but I can guarantee that the number one option is "trade down" and the number two option is "Joe Thomas".

I had missed the word, as posted at, that the Broncos signed Alvin McKinley. So now he's reunited with Gerard Warren, Kenard Lang, Ebenezer Ekuban, et al. Although Courtney Brown won't be able to round out the club, since he was cut. Guess the Broncos got just as frustrated as the Browns waiting for him to heal.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Money to burn

We got a fourth round pick for Rueben Droughns? I didn't know that, but thats what this Patrick McManamon piece says. Or, maybe he's mistaking the 7th rounder that we got for Dilfer for a 4th rounder.

I don't know that I get much from the rest of the article. So we're throwing alot of money at free agents. Its not like we are short of cash to pay the superstars on our roster. Fact is, the NFL limits the number of guys you can keep on the roster, so quantity over quality isn't an option (although I agree that having as many draft picks as possible is the way to go). Also, there is a salary floor as well as a salary cap, so the Browns HAVE to burn money on players. Yeah, it'd be great if we had some pro-bowlers on the roster whose deals we could extend, instead of picking up guys who may or may not be new pieces. But we don't, so what is management supposed to do, sign Simon Fraser through 2050? Once quality guys start leaving because they can get more money somewhere else, I'll complain, but for now I'm content with the mere hope that the signings might make us a little better.

CBS noted that the Browns only have nine players left from the Butch Davis era. I believe those nine are:

- Leigh Bodden
- Sean Jones
- Andra Davis
- Mason Unck
- Orpheus Roye
- Phil Dawson
- Kellen Winslow
- Ryan Tucker
- Steve Heiden
- Ryan Pontbriand, LSE

Maybe my counting skills are rusty, but I count 10. Of course, there was plenty of Butch Davis trash to get rid of. But those guys make up a majority of our decent players.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Money for nothing

This article, as linked by PFT, has a blurb saying the Packers and three other teams were trying to trade for FB Terrelle Smith before the Browns cut him.

My first thought: Why the heck would we cut him, if we could have gotten something for him?

We'll probably never know why, considering this franchise won't even admit the extent of player injuries. But I assume that the other teams were planning on playing the waiting game until after Smith got the roster bonus the Browns owed him in the upcoming weeks. So, we either had to put our money where our mouth is, by paying the roster bonus in the HOPES of getting a trade, or we had to cut him to avoid using cap space on a guy who won't be around next year.

I guess it makes sense if the trade value was pretty small (like a 7th round pick). Hopefully that was the case. I'd hate to think Randy Lerner was just trying to save cash at the expense of possibly improving the team through extra draft picks.

In any case, at least the potential trade explains why we held onto a veteran to his detriment rather than cutting him at the beginning of free agency, which I believe is SOP if you don't want to be known as a team that screws their players.

Speaking of Lerner and trading for draft picks, this story, if true, gives some very interesting details. It claims that Lerner is directing Savage to draft a QB, and that Detroit is pushing a hard sell to force us to give them the farm so we can swap picks.

Now, before getting too worked up, lets keep in mind that the "NFL sources" that gave the writer this info are probably just Lions management that want to drum up a trade market for their draft pick. Its just like politicians anonymously leaking skewed classified information that supports their agenda (if that ever happened, which I'm sure it hasn't). So the Lions hope is that, even if Cleveland doesn't go for broke to trade up for a QB, another team like Houston or Minnesota will believe that we will, so they will go for broke to win the derby.

Lets consider the facts:
> Its still not a forgone conclusion that Oakland is going to take a QB. Rumors are running rampant that Oakland might trade Randy Moss for Packers backup QB Aaron Rodgers. If this comes about, this would have a huge impact on the draft, because Oakland would have MUCH less need to draft a QB (which they have proven to be loath to do by passing on Matt Leinart last year) and much more in need of a WR, like top-rated prospect Calvin Johnson. And if Oakland takes Johnson, both Russell and Quinn will be there at two, meaning the Browns would be assured of getting one of the two no matter what.
> A big deciding factor in whether or not someone will trade up to 2 is whether or not they believe Detroit will take a QB. After all, if Detroit isn't going to take a QB, then no one will want to trade up to 2 when they can trade up to 3 for alot less and still get the guy they want (unless they're convinced that the Browns WILL take a QB, no matter what is offered in a trade, but I can't believe that Phil Savage would mortgage our future like that). Now, Detroit also passed on Matt Leinart last year, and with the Joey Harrington debacle still hanging over Matt Millen's head, and also taking into account their rumored man-crush on Joe Thomas, they are going to have to do ALOT of selling to convince other teams that they really will pull the trigger on a QB.
> Even if Detroit makes a convincing sell that they will take a QB, lets not count out Phil Savage's self-restraint. As Exhibit A, I point you to the days and seconds leading up to the 2005 draft: In '05, Miami put out an enormously hard sell trying to get us to trade up for Braylon Edwards, to the point that Braylon was expecting to have a Lions hat on his head at any moment. And Savage really wanted Edwards, not only because he was the best player (by what was known then, not now), but because we didn't have too many better options if we didn't get Edwards. After all, the next guys off the board were Cedric Benson, Cadillac Williams, Adam "Pacman" "Multiple Felon" Jones, and Troy "Blind & Butterfingers" Williamson, all of whom would probably have been worse picks than Edwards. But even under those pressing circumstances, Phil kept a calm head and didn't bite, saving valuable draft picks and STILL getting the guy he wanted. And this year, he'll have some pretty good fall-back options in Joe Thomas (if no QBs are left) or Adrian Peterson.
> If Phil has to take a QB this year, he could still wait until round two or three and get Troy Smith (although that might be going overboard on the Smiths). Not that Troy Smith is being thrown around as a sure-fire franchise QB, but bringing him to Cleveland would drum up more fan-base excitement than either of the other top two QBs.

So don't get worked up about any rumors that come out over the next month and a half. There's still alot of hands to play. For now, keep your eye on the Moss for Rodgers deal. If that goes down, we're pretty much guaranteed to have a QB fall to us at 3, whether we decide to draft him or trade down.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Extra help

Sounds like good news to me. The Browns signed Robaire Smith, DT, and Seth McKinney, OL. McKinney sounds like an injury risk who could pay off as a solid backup, but Smith sounds like a pretty decent veteran hole plugger. Probably a step up from Alvin McKinley.

In another move, Terrelle Smith, FB, was cut. I assume that this was just a cost saving measure, as now they can just give Terrelle's old jersey's to Robaire. I assume that this is more a vote of confidence in Lawrence Vickers than a dig at Smith.

Robaire seems to be coming at a decent price: $12M over 4 years. I'm glad that we've finally started to address one of the most glaring holes. At the risk of sounding like Tony Grossi, I just worry that these signings means that Savage is covering his lines with free agents so that he can go and draft non-linemen. Plugging the holes is good and all, but its no substitute for drafting guys. I still say that we should get at least 3 or 4 o- or d- linemen out of this draft.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Pro Bowlers and Kingpins

I've read a number of news items that have tried to disparage the Browns' signing of Eric Steinbach by pointing out that he hasn't been to any Pro Bowls. This comes from the same guys who (correctly) complain that Pro Bowl rosters are popularity contests that ignore the young quality players who deserve to be honor and focus on over-hyped has-beens.

Its even more inconsistent, since pretty much everyone agreed that Eric Steinbach was the best Offensive Linemen available, and that he was one of the best free agents overall.

So which is it? Is the Pro Bowl a joke? Or is Steinbach a bum because he hasn't been to a Pro Bowl?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Secondary Concern

According to Profootballtalk, Brian Russell has signed with the Seahawks, making it official that he won't be coming back to the Browns.

Russell has been decent. Not great, but he was one of those "veterans" that everyone is always talking about. Seemed like a good teammate, and he had some memorable hits. He wouldn't have been expensive to bring back, even as a backup, so the fact that we didn't resign him must mean that Savage and Crennel think that Brodney Pool is ready for the other safety spot. He did a good job as a spot CB last season, so I look forward to seeing what he does full time.

Pool and Sean Jones give us a set of quality, quick, young safeties. If our CBs can prove reliable in single coverage and don't need the safeties to back them up, we should expect to see some exciting defensive play, like we saw at the beginning of last season.

But will the CBs be able to hold their own? Leigh Bodden is plenty good when healthy, but he hasn't proven to be an iron man. Right now it looks like Daven Holly will start accross from Bodden. Holly has looked pretty decent at times, but he doesn't shut down opposing receivers, and he can get beat on big plays, too. But he is still maturing, so we could see an even better player next year.

But who's behind Bodden and Holly? Gary Baxter, even if he does manage to walk again this season, most likely won't be able to run fast enough to fill in as nicklel or dime. New free agent Kenny Wright sounds like he might be a Ray Mickens. Better than Ralph Brown, hopefully, but still a career backup. We also might see 06 draft pick Demario Minter, or an 07 draftee.

So we are nowhere near set at CB. If we had one more solid starter (like Gary Baxter, if healthy) we would be looking pretty set. But now, we might have enough to survive, but if we see any injury problems like last year, it could term ugly quickly enough.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I guess management was partying too much in 1999

Rueben Droughns to Giants for a backup receiver. Nothing unexpected there. Rueben might motivate himself now that he realizes he can't rest on a couple decent years, but even at his best he's merely decent.

Our new receiver, Tim Carter, was a second round pick, but over a few years he has pretty unimpressive numbers. Will he make the roster? Chances are probably 50/50.
But the bigger news is the cutting of Daylon McCutcheon. There had been inklings that it would happen, but no word that I've seen as to why. This is only excusable if Cutch's career is over, or if he has some undisclosed personal issues. If he proves to still have a few years left, even as a nickleback, then that just ain't right.

Its not the McCutcheon is (or was) great or anything, although he was servicable and given our issues at CB, a serviceable CB is a couple steps up from Ralph Brown. But he's the only remaining player from the 1999 draft class.

With Northcutt leaving a couple weeks back the 2000 draft class was cleared out. 2001's last player was Gerrard Warren. Our oldest draft pick still on roster is Andra Davis, from the 2002 draft. With McCutcheon going, its just a poignaint reminder of how many possibilities this organization has flushed down the toilet.

Without releasing any sort of statement as to why he was cut, it shows a real lack of understanding of the emotions of the fans. We've had so much crap, we've had to glom on to any pieces of decent that we could find. So we've had to form emotional attachments to these merely OK players because there have been no other options. But now those guys are cut, and that comes just days after Savage signed Jamal Lewis and flirted with signing Joey Porter.

Its interesting reading takes on the Lewis signing. Alot of the mainstream news sites call it an OK, if unspectacular upgrade. Most fanblogs, however, seem to see it kind of like I did: even if he's a marginally better player than Droughns, its not worth the cost of making a deal with the devil. Jamal Lewis represents too many dark moments for Browns fans. I don't think I'll ever be able to take true pleasure in any achievements he may have in a Browns uniform.

Phil, I want you to build us a winner. But please try to understand what we've been through. Make sure you've got a good reason for signing a nemesis, or for cutting a friend. And if you've got to do it, at least let us know whats going on. And for the love of God, don't try to replace Phil Dawson.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A deal with the devil

So Savage decided to bring in Jamal Lewis. Well, hopefully Droughns gets cut, so that our net thug level is only increased slightly by his addition.

I don't expect this will change much. It doesn't do anything to address our big holes at CB and D-Line.

Holes in the Defense

Through nearly a week of free agency we have added a couple pieces. But conspicuously absent from our list of signings is any defensive linemen. Here is the current state of our defensive line:

On Roster
> Simon Fraser
> Babatunde Oshinowo (!)
> J'vonne Parker
> Orpheus Roye
> Ted Washington

Practice Squaders/ NFL Europe players
> Ulrich Winkley
> Orien Harris
> Alvin Smith

Free Agents (not signed, not likely to be signed)
> Alvin McKinley
> Nick Eason
> Ethan Kelley

Now, last year's line had issues. The decent players (Roye and Washington) are aging very quickly. And of the marginal to bad players that we have, we're not making any attempt to retain three of them.

This is shaping up to be a very ugly situation. Want to see a good run defense? Don't watch the Browns in '07.
Maybe the Browns think that they can make the run defense better by bringing in the guy who has had the most success exposing the holes. Plain Dealer reports that Jamal Lewis is coming for a visit.

For all that is holy, don't sign this guy. I mean, he spent part of last offseason in prison. And its not like he's a great, irreplaceable player. Better than what we have? Perhaps. But we could do better with a number of free agents.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cleveland Clinic gets a new patient

In a repeat of last year, the Browns throw big money at the top rated offensive line free agent and get him to sign. This year is Eric Steinbach, formerly known for keeping Carson Palmer upright. I think its a good sign that they were able to convince him to sign without visiting other places first. He may have gotten more money from Tampa Bay who was talking about putting him at tackle.

Glad to see some more help brought into the line. With him and Fraley in place, we're already better than last year. Of course, thats assuming he survives. And with the Browns, I really am expecting SOMETHING cataclysmic to happen.

He has his blemish as part of the Bengals' convict crew. But his citation (boating under the influence) is pretty minor compared to alot of things that have gone on down in Porkopolis.

My only complaint is that we're in the position where we have to pay the huge money for the safest guy. There are other guards out there who would have been CONSIDERABLY cheaper who could have been as good or better as Steinbach. But they'd be riskier propositions. And with Phil Savage's and Romeo Crennel's backs against the wall by "Win today or fire the coach" fans, they have no choice but to overspend now, because they don't have the luxury of paying attention to silly things like "the salary cap".

So, even if its not the most prudent signing ever, it should serve to help. Until the curse rears its ugly head.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hey Porter

Steelers cut Joey Porter

Too bad, I was looking forward to seeing Kellen Winslow knock him around a little more.

$10 says he goes to the Ravens are Bengals. He would fit in perfectly with either teams' thug mentality.

Whats in a name, after all

I was clicking around Tuesday Morning Quarterback's mock draft for 2010, and I was glad to see us listed as the number 2 AFC team:

29. CLEVELAND PINKS: Steve Weedon, LB, West Virginia
Traditionalists continue to be outraged that the Browns' name was altered as part of the league's attempt to broaden its appeal to women.

I'll take a name change, even a bad one, if it means we get to draft 29th.

I also got a good chuckle out of this one:

26. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
People laughed when Britney Spears bulked up to 345 pounds and joined the Jags as a nose tackle. They're not laughing now.

"Not so Free" Agency

Free agency starts tomorrow. I'm sure we'll see a spending spree by the Browns. I expect we'll pick up:
> At least two Offensive Linemen (or three if we can't resign Hank Fraley).
> Also expect a cornerback, although not necessarily a top-tier one. We've seen too much success lately with no names like Daven Holly and Leigh Bodden to justify overpaying for a guy who is one or two seasons from being over the hill.
> Defensive Linemen. Multiple. Probably no bank-breakers.

Its now four years out from the 2003 draft. Normally the Browns would be making contract offers to the 2003 draftees to keep them from restricted free agency. But that was the year John Collins made his brilliant move of forcing all rookies to sign 5 year deals. So we get to hang onto the following guys without worrying about redoing deals this year or next year:
> Jeff Faine
> Chaun Thompson
> Chris Crocker
> Lee Suggs
> Ryan Pontbriand (LSE!)
> Micheal Lehan
> Antonio Garay
Looking at lists like that, can you really put all the blame on Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel?