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Category Archives: Free Agency

What’s the Latest from Berea?

What’s the Latest from Berea?

Pre-Combine News and Notes: Cleveland Browns

In just over a week, the Browns will be sending representatives to Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.  That is a crucial part of the NFL season for two reasons.  Outside of the obvious that front offices can get up close looks at potential new members of their clubs, recent history has shown that this has been an outlet for trade and free agency discussion amongst franchises.  However, before that begins let’s look back at what has gone down for the Cleveland football team.

McCloughan on Board

The former General Manager of the Redskins, Scot McCloughan has joined up with the Browns in a consulting role for the upcoming league year.  It’s been reported that the executive has shared his feelings regarding some possible quarterbacks for the Browns.  First, is that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback – but not a great, franchise signal caller (you can win championships with).  Secondly, McCloughan has made mention that he is supportive of the former University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.  Granted, the former Redskin will be employed in a part-time advisory role, but one would have to believe his thoughts and beliefs will have to be considered strongly.  Personally, I would be ok with either – assuming the Browns secure both a veteran and a top-end rookie, they should vastly improve that position.

A.J. is Unrestricted

In an unusual set of circumstances, Bengals’ quarterback (for the time being) has been granted unrestricted free agency with the team who drafted him, following a grievance hearing.  I’ve always envisioned him with the dreaded label “game manager”, but it would appear that he might get his shot to be a full-time starter in 2018.  After nearly trading for McCarron last fall, the Browns might take another shot to secure the athlete.  The big difference between 2017 and 2018 is that the team has replaced Sashi Brown with John Dorsey (and Eliot Wolf and Alonzso Highsmith).  One would have to believe that the influx of football knowledge would overrule Hue Jackson if they did not share the same feelings towards the signal caller.  McCarron wouldn’t be my first choice as a Browns’ quarterback but the team could do worse.

Canton/Cleveland Draft?

It was recently announced that Canton and Cleveland (in a joint weekend) is a possible destination for either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft.  I would be happy that the local economy would see another spike over a couple of days, as well as northeast Ohio being the center of the professional football world.  I might even attend some part of the event – provided they win the right to host.  There are other worthy candidates like Kansas City and Denver (to name a few).  Either way, I will be watching from somewhere and hope the Browns pick last in the first round instead of first.

Conclusion:  In the first slow period after the Super Bowl, the Browns will receive bits of information regarding potential new  members of the 2018 squad.  First, Scot McCloughan will put in his two cents about the team’s direction going forward.  It will be very interesting to see how it aligns with the rest of the front office.  Also, A.J. McCarron will be on the market next month, with no compensation required to sign him.  Will signing him be a sound decision, or was Hue Jackson (and company) panicking last year when they nearly traded for the Bengals’ backup quarterback?

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Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

What is Going on in Browns’ Town

In the week in between the rookie minicamp practices and the veteran group practices, there were some noteworthy events that occurred for the Cleveland Browns.  The first was an unfortunate injury that happened to a recently signed draft selection, followed by a veteran signing shortly thereafter.  After that was a needed break by the franchise that has not been common for this franchise.

Howard Wilson Injury

It was difficult and unfortunate to see rookie Howard Wilson suffer an injury (especially a non-contact one) so early in the campaign.  Similarly to what happened to Kyrie Irving two seasons ago, Wilson fractured his knee cap – this occurred during the rookie minicamp practices.  The NBA star was out several months following his surgery (in 2015).  It is still not set in stone as to
how he will rehab this injury, though.  Personally, provided Wilson is healthy, I would like to see him participate and gain valuable
experience in 2017.  With the recent news that he will not necessarily need surgery, he could still see a fair amount of action on the Browns’ roster this campaign. .

Jason McCourty Signing

Did the re-signing of Jamie Collins open the floodgates for future veterans to latch on to the Cleveland Browns?  I would not got that far just yet (however some in the media are already declaring this), but acquiring a solid veteran in Jason McCourty was a wise move by Sashi Brown and company.  McCourty will provide another veteran for a thin (in terms of experience) position group – especially following the injury to Howard Wilson.  I do not anticipate the former Tennessee Titan to light the league on fire during his time with the Browns; but he should be competent enough to eliminate the possibility that teams can play catch up-and-down the field against the secondary of the orange and brown.

Update on Caleb Brantley

Caleb Brantley was back in the news earlier this week – it was not negative this time around.  The rookie sixth-round selection entered the draft with battery charges towards a woman during an altercation in a bar.  Those charges were recently dropped, allowing the rookie to perform on the field without the dark cloud hanging over his head.  Assuming he can outperform his lowered expectations (as he fell mightily in the draft) – the Browns will have gotten tremendous value from the former Florida Gator.  I hoping that he is truly 100% innocent and did not escape his charge due to technicality, but there is a great chance that I and many others will never know.

Conclusion:  Following the unlucky injury news, the Browns received a pair of two positive stories regarding their roster.  My optimism in the 2017 season is slowly rising, but there is a long time between now and week one of the regular season.  I am particularly intrigued to see how different training camp is from 2016 one – as result from the infusion of talent.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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On the the Next Phase: QB Talk

On the the Next Phase: QB Talk

Time to Move on

The Cleveland Browns need a franchise quarterback on their roster (I understand that this is a grossly obvious statement).  Having said that, there is no inconceivable reason as to why they should pick up an underachieving free agent signal caller.  Sashi Brown and company must focus on the draft instead of finding a guy who will not do anything of substance on the field.  Let’s review what I’m referring to.

Jimmy Garrappolo Situation

It appears that a trade scenario is dead – rumors of the Browns offering a reasonable pair of second round draft picks and being
turned away was all I needed to hear.  Giving up any more than that is insane and an awful decision for the Browns to surrender top choices for such a big question mark.  For that reason, the Browns (and more importantly the media) should look for answers in other directions.

Colin Kaepernick and Baggage

First, there is the kneeling during the national anthem last season – and the response that many NFL fans have given the quarterback.  However, the reason why I do not want Colin on this team is that he is not a viable professional quarterback.  Colin’s better days are behind him, and he appeared to be a quarterback on a team that caught lightning in a bottle.  The 49ers ran a zone read offense and were the benefactors of others not having a tremendous amount of film on the quarterback.  The same cannot be said in 2017 – thus the Browns must stay away.

Noise about Geno

Fortunately, Geno Smith is not signing a contact to come here and play football.  Like Kaepernick, Smith cannot play the position in the NFL and therefore will not be needed in Berea, Ohio.  I understand reporters want to write stories about what they are hearing – but picking up a known failure in the league is just a silly decision.

Draft and Two Routes

That leaves us with the 2017 NFL Draft – the Browns can go one of two ways.  The first is to secure a quarterback in the first or second round (and tab them as their franchise quarterback), or they could choose a guy in the middle rounds to develop into a viable option down the road.  For the first option, I am going back and forth between Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson.  Via the developmental route – Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes are two athletes who I would feel comfortable with.  I hope Sashi and company know the correct path and select the right guy.

Conclusion:  I am done hearing about the Cleveland Browns scouring the free agency market for guys to come in and be members of this team. Frankly, that market has dried up and the backup in New England is not
coming here.

The franchise’s fortunes should be clearer the weekend of April 27th through the 29th.  I cannot tell you who the front office will choose – but the best signal caller would be ideal.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft

 

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Cleveland Browns Free Agency Takeaways

Cleveland Browns Free Agency Takeaways

Browns and Free Agency

Well, the Cleveland Browns made several moves this offseason – and I feel they made their team much stronger.  Giving up the most sacks in the NFL last year was not acceptable and the front office responded.  I would like to believe the team will now be able to forget about departed Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz from 2016 and have a new cast upfront that can keep the pocket clean, as well as open holes for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson.  Let’s look further into the acquisitions.

Kevin Zeitler

The highest paid guard in NFL history now resides in Cleveland.  The injury to John Greco at the end of last season might to have helped facilitate this move, as the veteran’s health status remains up in the air.  Zeitler should help the Browns’ running attack tremendously – which will benefit the guy under center (whoever it is).

JC Tretter

He’s had a bit of an injury history, but provided he remains healthy with the orange and brown – they might have found Cam Erving’s replacement.   I would expect Tretter to hold his own in the middle; being surrounded by Zeitler and Joel Bitonio will assist the new acquisition.  This is an under-the-radar pick up, but one I fully support.

Kenny Britt

The Cleveland Browns secured either a number two or three wide out on this roster with the signing of veteran Kenny Britt.  Like Terrelle Pryor, the former L.A. Ram hauled in over 1,000 yards in 2016.  While this is not a high-end signing (as he should average 750 yards and three touchdowns), the wideout should help improve the wide receiving unit more than Andrew Hawkins did.  Britt’s size of 6’3” is something that should not be taken lightly – a large target for a quarterback is a great thing.  More depth should be added at this position in the draft.  I understand he has had his person issues earlier in his career, but he appears now as a better locker room guy than they athlete who departed for Washington DC.

Osweiler Trade

Buying a second round draft pick for $16 Million (or about $8.5 Million after you remove Robert Griffin’s salary – due to his release) makes a ton of sense.  The Browns have a bit more flexibility when it comes to assets to trade and still have a possible guy to trade (in Brock) for additional selections.  It will be interesting to see what comes after this deal – but making this shrewd decision was brilliant.  The Browns are ahead of the curve and this type of transaction is foreign to the sport (but not the NBA).

Conclusion:  I like what the Browns have done to this point – they solidified their offensive line and acquired additional opportunities down the road.  The contract extension for Joe Bitonio was included in this – as he should be back to solid form once he becomes fully healthy.  The biggest question remains is where will they get their quarterback?

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Season

 

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Two Rookies and Two Different Opinions

Two Rookies and Two Different Opinions

A Tale of Two Quarterbacks

I find it rather fascinating that two young men in the identical situation have two completely mindsets – at least to what the media
and fans are privy to.  Nonetheless, a pair of athletes chose to speak about their draft potential and where they want to play in the National Football League.  Will this mean anything in the big picture?  Possibly not, especially if the Cleveland Browns do not select either candidate in the upcoming draft.  Let’s look into the differing attitudes.

First up:  Deshaun Watson

On the heels of Myles Garrett stating he wants Jerry Jones to trade up and draft him to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys, a former Clemson quarterback all but reiterated these sentiments.  Whether Garrett and Watson were joking or not, the slight of the franchise in northeast Ohio is obvious by those who support the orange and brown.  (This is not even including the Senior Bowl snub by the quarterback, after Hue Jackson contacted the athlete to participate in Mobile,
Alabama).

Watson said at an awards ceremony that the Cowboys should trade both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott to the Browns so he could become the next signal caller in Dallas.  Again, whether he was being honest or not, turning off a rabid fan base is not a wise move for a guy wanting to break into the league.  Personally, I do not think Watson will translate to an excellent quarterback in the NFL – he does not possess a tremendous deep ball and his overall ability in the pocket could use improvement.  Could that change with great coaching?  Sure, but I still have my doubts.

Second Option:  Patrick Mahomes II

Meanwhile, the former Texas Tech signal caller said he is doing everything he can to be the number one overall selection and would love to learn from head coach Hue Jackson.  I understand it is not realistic that this will occur, but that does not mean the Browns will refrain from taking Mahomes at all (perhaps in the second round).  I have my reservations about Mahomes as well, as spread quarterbacks in the NCAA historically do not translate to the next level.  The signal caller will have to learn how to understand a complicated play book, read defenses, look off wide outs and hit the second or third options (to name a few things).

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh on the guy, but the jump from the collegiate level to the professional game is a significant one.  I suppose I could be on board with drafting this guy – provided the Browns address the quarterback via another route (i.e. Jimmy Garappolo or another veteran).  His attitude is definitely refreshing and I hope he makes it in the NFL, regardless of where he is selected.

Conclusion:  In another slow period of the year, the quarterback position makes news in Cleveland, Ohio.  Two options are making their feelings known about being chosen by the Browns – one said he would rather not go there, while the other embraced it.  I would prefer Deshone Kizer or Mitch Trubisky at this point, but perhaps Patrick Mahomes could be an under the radar choice in April.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Offseason, Players

 

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The Time to Pay is Now

The Time to Pay is Now

The Browns Have Money – They Must Use It (Wisely)

The Cleveland Browns have over $100 Million under the salary cap heading into the 2017 season.  It’s one thing to be frugal spenders in the NFL, but this is getting out of hand.  I understand going all “Dan Snyder” and focusing on attracting older veterans whose better days (in the league) are behind them is not the way to go.  However, the team must improve tremendously from last years debacle and one way to do this is to sign (or re-sign) some quality, younger veterans who can make an impact now.

Terrelle Pryor Free Agent

Yes, the wideout had just one solid season for the Cleveland Browns.  No, was not astronomical either.  However, Sashi Brown and the front office would be extremely wise to lock up a talent on the edge for two primary reasons.  One, the Browns desperately need a target on the field who can be a reliable option opposite Corey Coleman.  Should the team take Mike Williams or O.J. Howard – even better.  This receiving unit would be one of the better ones in the league.  Additionally, the Browns will more than likely be breaking in another guy under center next fall.  Who would you rather see him throwing to – a tall, athletic playmaker like Pryor or a roster devoid of a guy like that?

Quarterback Plan

There are basically two schools of thought regarding how the franchise will handle the position under center this offseason.  They can either draft their guy for the future in the first round or acquire a veteran signal caller and accompany him with a later round option.  I frankly don’t believe the team will select a quarterback with the twelfth overall selection in this year’s draft – so I feel they will go with the second route.  Now, what can they do?  Personally, I prefer a pocket passer (Jimmy Garoppolo) to a primary runner who can throw (Tyrod Taylor).  If the Browns hear a reasonable offer – no first round picks surrendered – they should pull the trigger on the Patriots’ quarterback, pick a Davis Webb or Patrick Mahomes in the middle rounds, and couple them with Cody Kessler on this roster.  This would be light years ahead of last season’s quarterback room.

Conclusion:  It’s time to see wins for the orange and brown; making smart signings is a way to accomplish this task.  Securing Terrelle Pryor, scooping up Jimmy Garoppolo, and acquiring a reliable defensive starter (likely in the secondary) would be an excellent start to the 2017 free agent period for the Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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NFL News: Browns and Beyond

The Latest in the League

The day after the Browns’ season ended, pretty much everyone involved with the franchise was ready to turn the page and look forward to the 2017 campaign.  This past week, there were several debating points verbalized extensively by the media and fans of the Browns.  Two of these relate to April’s draft and where the Browns should focus their early picks.  Meanwhile, yet another move will occur in the NFL and a franchise will be playing home games in a different city beginning next fall.

DeShaun Watson Chatter

The Clemson quarterback navigated a game winning draft in the National Championship game in the NCAA this past week.  It was an incredible performance, which prompted talk about the signal caller’s future.  A season ago many felt Watson was a top-five draft pick.  His 2016 season overall was not tremendous (filled primarily with interceptions and passes which missed their targets) and his draft stock fell.  Did his late push allow him to get back into the early part of the first round?  Personally, I am hesitant to trust this type of signal caller in the NFL – a run-first guy who is not exceptionally big while not displaying touch or accuracy.  However, that could change over time but one thing is for certain; DeShaun Watson will be talked about in detail prior to the NFL Draft.

Chargers Heading North

Reading that the San Diego Chargers will now become the Los Angeles Chargers irked me to a degree.  Los Angeles is not a football town and does not deserve one professional football team (let alone two).  It appears that the league is forcing something that simply is not there.  Why not tap into another market that would more than likely support their team?  I could think of five off the top of my head, but since they are smaller markets, they were not options.

The all-mighty dollar still rules and a new stadium, another opportunity for new branding/merchandising, and an opportunity for the second largest city in the nation to be on the big stage were too big to pass up.  It will be sad to see away teams running the Chargers’ stadium and support for the LA team to be minimal.  Perhaps victories could change this, but I have my reservations.

Defensive Options in the Draft

Many have stated that there are several tremendous options on the defensive side of the football, who could come in as rookies and improve franchises immediately.  That begs the question, will the Browns agree with this opinion (and more importantly – who will they choose)?  With the top selection overall, the Browns could opt for an excellent pass rusher or a stalwart interior defensive lineman.  With their second choice, they could focus again on their front seven or secure one of the better safety prospects seen in quite some time.  Personally, getting the quarterback right should be the team’s priority.  If the Browns do this via free agency/trade, then by all means – draft the best player available and bolster the unit for Gregg Williams.

Conclusion:  Many unknowns still remain as we head into this offseason in the NFL.  The Browns should be formulating their plan to vastly improve their roster.  I do not care how the front office does it, but they must get it right for a change.  Also, the Chargers will be playing the Browns in Los Angeles next season.  Depending on how the Browns’ offseason and regular season are at that point, the stadium (of only 30,000) could be mostly donning orange and brown or it could be nearly empty.

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Offseason

 

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