With the NFL free agency season still underway, we are finally starting to see a few more names added to the roster for the Cleveland Browns. Sure, they are not exactly the Albert Haynesworths or Terrell Owens’, but any fan that anticipated big name free agents this year was bound to be disappointed. But with the recent wave of signings, these players all have something in common: their former team.
In what has been an interesting off-season from the standpoint of coaching changes as well as players themselves, we have seen quite a number of players follow their former play-callers and general managers to their new team whether through trade or free agency. Scott Pioli took the gig in Kansas City and wasted no time in acquiring Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel. Baltimore’s Rex Ryan is the new head coach of the New York Jets, and will get to call plays for former Ravens Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Eric Mangini and George Kokinis have added a handful of players with whom our head coach is very familiar.
Over the last few days, the Browns have added veteran defensive back Hank Poteat, defensive lineman C.J. Mosley, and linebacker David Bowens. All three players are former New York Jets and will hopefully add depth and talent to the defensive side of the ball.
The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Bowens deal is for four years and $7.2 million dollars – more than several analysts felt the 32-year old linebacker was worth considering his recent knee surgery. However, he should actually see considerable time on the field while Poteat and Mosley will likely be used for depth. Poteat will likely fill in the role that the Browns were hoping to achieve with Terry Cousin and (recently departed) Travis Daniels last off-season. His contract is reportedly for one season, which is not a bad move by any means considering that the cornerback is 31-years of age.
If you think that Mangini/Kokinis are complacent with their three former Jets, think again. The team is working hard on addressing their opening at strong safety by agreeing to terms with 27-year old Abram Elam. The OBR reports that Elam has signed an offer sheet of one-year, $1.5 million - the Jets have one week to match, as Elam is a restricted free agent. With three years of experience, Elam brings some youth that is still improving. I’m not sure why the Browns are only looking to use his services for one season – I assume that there is a plan in place for the future.
In the linebacker ranks, Eric Barton is also a name that 1) has Jets ties and 2) interests the Browns. This is one I could side with given the fact that he is a tackling machine (119 last season) and would not require as much money as some of the other ILB’s out there.
If anything, these signings/potential signings are a step up from the Romeo Crennel version that included Ted Washington and Willie McGinest. Granted, McGinest is a vocal team leader and has shown flashes of brilliance, there is no denying that both of these guys were on the down side of their career. The age of some of the recent additions may be a bit worrying to most, but these guys will not be counted on to start. Washington and McGinest were.
If you’re going to compare the likes of Cassel, Scott and Leonhard to those of the players that are being touted by the Browns, you are not going to be doing yourself any favors. Scott’s contract is for six years and $48 million. Leonhard will make $7 million over the next three seasons. And Cassel will obviously make his $14.7 million in franchise quarterback money for 2009.
In other news…
Free agent cornerback Jarrett Bush will reportedly pay Cleveland a visit. He’s also being wooed by Tennessee and Baltimore. He would be mostly used for his skill on special teams, while adding depth to the secondary. Meanwhile, the Steelers are looking at Chris Carr – one of the fastest DB’s in the NFL.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Texans may use their 15th overall selection on Clay Matthews III. We mentioned not long ago that the Browns were rumored to be interested in his services. However, if he’s gone before the second half of the first-round, he will likely not be wearing a Browns jersey next season.
Tight end Darnell Dinkins will reportedly pay a visit to the New Orleans Saints. With the addition of Robert Royal to the Browns, there will be little to no need for Dinkins in Cleveland for 2009.
(photos courtesy of Associated Press)