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On Paul Kruger– “So yes, they probably “overpaid” for a guy who seems to be a good player, but probably won’t be a great one. So what?
They have salary cap cash, and they have absolutely no established outside linebackers for Ray Horton’s new 3-4 defense. Furthermore, this is not like the Browns signing free agent linebacker Scott Fujita in 2010. At that point, he was coming off a Super Bowl season in New Orleans. He also was 31 years old. Fujita received a three-year, $14 million contract from the Browns and played in only 23-of-48 games. He was on the wrong side of the football mountain.
The Browns clearly believe Kruger is capable of being one of the keys to the new defense, one that pressures the quarterback. In Arizona, Horton’s defenses blitzed on 42 percent of the plays — second in the NFL.” [Pluto/Cleveland.com]
On Desmond Bryant– “At 27 years old, Bryant is one of those under-the-radar players who has the chance to be a game-changer on the Browns’ new 3-4 defense. He spent four seasons on an underachieving Oakland Raiders defense, but he always showed great tenacity and a high motor.
The red flag on Bryant was his arrest last month in Miami on a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. The positives with the 6-foot-6, 311-pound lineman out of Harvard outweigh this incident. Bryant’s reputation is being a run-stuffer, but he can get collapse the middle of the offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus, his 35 total pressures ranked him fourth among all qualifying defensive tackles.” [Hensley/AFC North Blog]
“If the Harden situation is any indication, there is no “home team discount” in the NBA. Teams can sign their own Bird Free Agents for five year deals instead of four year deals with 7.5% annual raises as opposed to the 4.5% annual raises other teams can offer. What is happening in all three cases is that the CBA, while designed to help small market teams, is actually hurting them. Since they can overpay, the players’ and their agents can try to force the team that has the players Bird Rights to pay more or threaten to leave the home team with nothing when the player leaves via free agency. The home team has no recourse in this situation but to overpay the player or play chicken and dare the player to take less money to leave. So far, general managers have been blinking first. Teams have been leveraged to pay free agents more, or trade them for lesser assets. There is no “home team discount.” There is only a home surcharge.
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues for Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, and what this will mean for the Cavaliers in the future. Goal #2 is butting up against goal #3 hard core. Teams like Oklahoma City will have a very hard time keeping more than a couple very good NBA players. The harder luxury tax penalties will force them to move players like Harden. It will be hard enough to keep “super” teams together, but for small market teams that can’t (or won’t) pay the stiff fines, it may preclude them from fielding consistently competitive teams entirely.” [Smith/Cavs the Blog]
“BULLPEN: For the sake of argument, let’s say closer Chris Perez is ready in time for Opening Day. If that’s the case, then it’ll be Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Joe Smith and Rich Hill (out of options and now added to the roster) as potential locks. Righty Matt Albers, who is out of options and has a big fan in manager Terry Francona, seems like a virtual lock as well. That leaves two spots open, or three if Cleveland carries an extra reliever to help out for the first two weeks (13 straight games with no off-days). If there is an extra reliever, lefty David Huff (out of options) seems like a candidate to come north, considering he can log multiple innings. Others in the mix are righties Cody Allen, Matt Capps and Bryan Shaw, and lefties Nick Hagadone and Scott Barnes. Francona has raved about both Allen and Hagadone. Cleveland will need to make a decision about Capps on March 26. I could see a scenario (much like with Wheeler last season) where the Indians keep Capps in order to help maintain their bullpen depth at the onset of the season. Allen, Shaw, Hagadone and Barnes all have options, so there will be a tough conversation or two before the end of the spring. Now, if Perez isn’t ready for Opening Day, that frees up an extra spot for another one of these guys.” [Bastian/MLB.com]