Andrew and Craig break down a bunch of things regarding Cleveland sports. Chief Wahoo, Cleveland fans battling each other, Rashard Mendenhall’s retirement decision, Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ number retirement, Dion Waiters tweeting at fans, and all kinds of TV stuff.
Andrew and Craig talk about Z’s jersey, Rashard Mendenhall, Wahoo and more – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-09
The Cleveland Browns are one of the teams that Grantland’s Bill Barnwell thinks should dominate free agency. If his plan comes to fruition it will certainly be a one of the most active free agency periods in Cleveland Browns history.
Barnwell claims the Browns should re-sign T.J. Ward, while acquiring the services of Knowshon Moreno, Geoff Schwartz, Brandon Spikes, Calvin Pace and Antonio Cromartie. That’s a whole lot of imported talent. Let’s go through these options a bit.
A lot of it makes sense though. I think the Browns should bring back T.J. Ward. Ultimately I don’t think he’s going to demand the kind of money on the open market that everyone else seems to think he will. Remember back to last season when the Browns signed Paul Kruger. Kruger ended up signing a rich deal, but even at five years with more than $40 million of potential value, it still turned out to be $20 million in guaranteed dollars. Compared to what the rumors were prior to Kruger’s signing, he actually came cheaper than the hype. Some might argue the Browns still paid too much, but that’s what happens in free agency. The point is that maybe T.J. Ward will end up coming back at something less than what people seem to think.
Geoff Schwartz makes tons of sense. He’s a professional NFL guard and the Browns need help. Additionally, it might be a bit gimmicky, but I can’t imagine putting the Schwartz brothers together on the Browns’ offensive line will make either one of them worse. Mitchell Schwartz has had an uneven first two years in his career, but as the Browns enter a new offensive system under Kyle Shanahan, he might just be a better fit. We’ll see.
Brandon Spikes also makes a lot of sense. The former Patriot has reportedly had some maturity issues, missing meetings for example, but is a play-maker. He could step in for the Browns where D’Qwell Jackson’s departure leaves the team thin. Plus, Spikes sounds like he might have learned a thing or two about his behavior in New England.
Speaking on NFL AM Spikes said, “I think overall (if) I could do some things differently I would,” he said, “but it is what it is. It’s in the past and I think it’s just time to move on.”
On the outside, I’m unsure why Barnwell would put Calvin Pace on the Browns as the team has some depth at OLB with Mingo, Kruger, Sheard, and Groves.
Last, but not least, Barnwell pegs Antonio Cromartie with the second corner spot for the Browns opposite Joe Haden. While this makes some sense, I would be surprised if the Browns go out of their way to sign a 29-year-old corner. Maybe it’s a somewhat new day with slightly different strategies now that Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer are shepherding the roster, but we’ll see.
Either way, I think Barnwell’s right about one thing. I expect the Browns to be pretty active. I guess I would hope the Browns do something in the way of either wide receiver or running back in free agency ahead of the NFL draft.
Last week the NFL set the salary cap for 2014 at $133 million which was higher than many thought it would be. According to league sources in contact with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, it could be a trend that continues.
One source with knowledge of the process… tells PFT that the cap could spike to $145 million in 2015 and a whopping $160 million in 2016.
While the Browns are still struggling to get out of the basement of the league and shouldn’t probably be working too hard to spend all their money to maintain the status quo on their roster, it’s still good news. The Browns have a ton of money available to them this year, and this just means they’ll have that much more going forward.
Even as the Browns haven’t been successful on the field yet, there are still some players that the Browns will want to take care of and presumably keep using that money. Jordan Cameron, Jabaal Sheard, and Phil Taylor will be free agents after the 2014 NFL season. Add Joe Haden to the list if the Browns don’t get his extension done earlier.
The following year could shape up to be a biggie too if Josh Gordon can keep his nose clean and continues to play at the Pro Bowl level he played in 2013. Oh yeah, and if the Browns win the lottery and Brian Hoyer proves he’s a legitimate NFL starter, his $1.25 million salary for 2014 won’t be good enough to bring him back in 2015.
This rise in the salary cap also means that the free agency pool is likely to get even less efficient as the same players who were fighting for a piece of $126 million now get to chase a piece of $133 million.
Welcome to the new WWW. I’ll be covering Fridays.
How have I never seen The League before? I needed a new show to watch and saw FX’s The League on my Netflix screen, so I tried it. What I found was a perfectly hysterical 22-minute TV show. If you haven’t seen this show, you really should make the effort to watch it. If you have seen it, what were you thinking? You didn’t tell me about this show. You failed as hype men.1
NBA Twitter is the best Twitter. That won’t change as the Twitter app will now start showing live scores of trending NBA games. Obviously the Twitter app will do this for all sports, but you can’t tell me it won’t be especially awesome on NBA Twitter when some week night West Coast League Pass alert happens and everyone pops on over to a wild NBA game that’s unfolding in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Cleveland Browns’ salary cap isn’t a straight-forward topic. Yes, the team has just over $50 million in salary cap space, but any team needs a longer range plan that encompasses roster dynamics. This includes existing talent and their forthcoming free agencies and extension demands.
With that in mind, I recommend people read Jim Kanicki’s breakdown of the cap where he concludes that the Browns really have about $39 million to spend once you consider the other things that the Browns need to do with their existing roster. I promise that nowhere in the article does Kanick try to convince you or me that Johnny Manziel isn’t fast.
Could the Browns be thinking of trading Alex Mack? Probably not, but Brent Sobleski talked to Mack and some of the quotes are interesting. “It’s an interesting position to be put into to,” Mack said. “The transition tag will still allow me to see other teams, which is what we really wanted. … The goal was really to feel out my options. We wanted to know what the Browns are now about, and what other teams are doing.”
It got me thinking. The Browns tagged Mack with the transition tag and initially I thought that was just because it saved money, but what if the Browns have other thoughts as well? Granted the “sign and trade” thing doesn’t really happen in the NFL, but there’s a first time for everything. Mack going out and meeting with other teams could help the Browns line up a trade partner. Maybe? Again, it’s not normal, but it occurred to me when I read those quotes. I really do think the Browns just want Mack back, but they are in the driver’s seat still with the transition tag.
The Browns re-signed kicker Billy Cundiff. As much as Phil Dawson rules and we miss him, it’s officially time to say the Browns did fine without him. We’re fans, so we are supposed to make big deals about things that impact us emotionally. It’s fairly obvious in this case though that sentimentality didn’t play itself out into us being doomed over the loss of Phil Dawson… YET. We’ll see how that interloper Billy Cundiff does in his second year with the Browns! You’re on notice! (Again.)
MUSIC! - I decided to hit you with a playlist of some of my favorite songs so far in 2014.
Your Deep Rest by The Hotelier is a throwback song for me. This band sounds like the late 90′s and early 2000′s to me. No, not in the Limp Bizkit / Korn kind of way. More like Straylight Run or something. Very good, slightly sloppy rock.
Trophy by Crosses is a really interesting song by a side project of Deftones singer Chino Moreno and some other Cali musicians. This is a mellow song, but I find it very pretty.
Denial by I Break Horses is another electronic song. That’s not usually my style, but something about this puts it in the world of M83, which I like. The soundtrack for the Ryan Gosling / Cary Mulligan movie Drive infected me a couple years ago.
Cardiac Arrest by Bad Suns is the sugary sweet pop song that I was telling you about. These guys are so polished that I’m not sure I even like it as much as it sticks to the roof of my mouth. Try to get it out of your head.
Voix Sereines by Alcest is a perfect song in my book. It’s a builder that takes four minutes to explode into sweeping thematic guitars. Should be played extremely loudly for full effect.
Until next week…
- What? Did you think I would blame myself? Nope. [↩]
The good folks at Dawgs by Nature have been doing the job over there when it comes to the Browns and their available cap space. It’s a difficult task with lots of factors changing constantly, but they’re on top of it. Now that the Browns are deemed to not owe Davone Bess his second year’s salary and now that the Browns have placed the transition tag on Alex Mack, the numbers have been updated yet again. And the Browns have a lot of available cap space. The Browns have about $50.4 million, to be exact.
As we’ve discussed here lately, that doesn’t mean that the Browns should go crazy in the least efficient team-building manner and pay crazy money for big-name guys who are likely past their primes. For example, while Cortland Finnegan is a good player and 30, who knows if any team wants to be in the business of paying him when he’s 34.
I still expect the Browns to start at home by following up with their commitment to Alex Mack with a long-term deal as well as a Joe Haden extension. Remember that Joe Thomas’ big extension wasn’t done until training camp had already begun, so there’s no reason to be impatient with Haden’s deal.
I’m still undecided what the Browns will do with T.J. Ward. I can’t get a read on what they think his value is and what they want to pay for his services. If for whatever reason Ward doesn’t come back with the Browns this season it won’t be because they can’t afford it.
(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)
The Browns were kind to give D’Qwell Jackson a chance to sell himself around the NFL and make the best choice for himself. As it turns out, the best choice was in Indianapolis where Jackson is reported to be pulling a 4-year deal worth $22 million ($11 million guaranteed) with the Colts. Jackson follows former teammate Trent Richardson, who was traded this past season, and former head coach Rob Chudzinski who was hired as an assistant to the head coach after being fired by the Browns following the conclusion of the 2013 season. That’s a whole lot of Browns connections in the Indianapolis Colts for a house like mine where my wife is a Colts fan.
— Indianapolis Star (@indystar) March 6, 2014
Welcome to the Colts, D'Qwell!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 6, 2014
The Jackson move comes on the heels of a PFT report that the Colts had no intention of resigning oft-injured linebacker Pat Angerer. Angerer has shown tons of potential over the years, but between foot surgeries and the knee surgery he’s rehabbing now, it’s a story of injuries.
D’Qwell Jackson’s career was once thought to be something of a lost cause due to pectoral injuries that saw him play only six games over a two-year period from 2009 to 2010. Jackson’s seemingly on the other side of that storyline now. He’s played reasonably well the last two three years as he’s played all 16 games per season since 2011.
I obviously wish D’Qwell Jackson well, but I still wonder if he’s the answer for any NFL defense that aspires to be truly great. As productive as Jackson is and as good as he is as a leader, I still wonder if he’s good enough at such an important position on the field to truly raise the level of a team’s defense to a championship level.
[More Browns: Cleveland Browns have released Davone Bess]
(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)
When Davone Bess seemingly went off the rails, it was an obvious next thought that he might get released by the Cleveland Browns. As the images and words got more and more troubling and after his arrest in a Florida airport, the business of the NFL faded away as concern for the man himself took precedence. Even as the Browns have maintained a compassionate public stance with regard to their seemingly troubled player, it appears the time for business has arrived for the Cleveland Browns.
BREAKING: #Browns have released WRs Davone Bess and Brian Tyms, and LB Paul Hazel.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 5, 2014
I don’t know exactly how all the departments work in the Cleveland Browns, but I’m a little bit surprised that they tweeted “BREAKING” for news that, you know, they’re responsible for creating. “Breaking” stories is usually reserved for news that isn’t being self-reported.
The Browns also announced they’ve released receiver Brian Tyms and linebacker Paul Hazel.
WFNY did a lot of work over the course of the Davone Bess story. Here are some selections if you’d like to walk down memory lane with Davone Bess one last time.
If D’Qwell Jackson is looking for a new NFL team that has more continuity and less dysfunction than the Browns, he might barely be achieving that in Miami. Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel reports that D’Qwell visited with the Dolphins yesterday afternoon after the team re-upped Brent Grimes for four years and $32 million with $16 mil guaranteed. I’m sure D’Qwell wouldn’t mind having some version of that deal if he could get it in Miami.
The Dolphins could likely use a leader of D’Qwell Jackson’s caliber on their team. For all the teeth gnashing in Cleveland about Jackson’s slightly-above-average play, there was never a doubt about the quality of the man and his impact on the locker room or in the community. On the heels of Richie Incognito’s reign in Miami, D’Qwell Jackson would be a good addition to that team.
We’ll continue to watch with interest to see where Jackson goes. While it made tons of sense for the Browns to part ways, it wasn’t a fun or easy goodbye for most fans and commentators.
Jackson has also visited the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans.
Even before we can get into what the Cleveland Browns should do with their numerous draft picks, we’ll start to get some clues about their goals this season by what they do with free agency. We’ve learned quite a bit already as the Browns made the decision to cut D’Qwell Jackson last week. The agent for Ahtyba Rubin indicated to the press that the Browns and their giant defensive lineman are on good terms, so unless he’s really playing a high stakes poker game, it appears Rubin won’t follow DQ52 out the door. The Browns are consistently linked to Bills free safety Jairus Byrd due to his connections to Mike Pettine in Buffalo. In addition, the Browns still haven’t finalized anything with either strong safety T.J. Ward, center Alex Mack, or even an early extension with cornerback Joe Haden. That’s a lot of moving pieces, but what should the team do? They’ve got lots of money available in cap space. Shouldn’t they just line them all up and pay everyone? Not necessarily.
Well, it looks like we can save debates about Cleveland Indians attendance for at least a little bit. The team announced via its Twitter account that their Opening Day game on Friday April 4 against the Minnesota Twins is sold out. Not only that, Tribe fans managed to sell out Progressive Field in just 15 minutes.
Opening Day is officially a sellout! 15 minutes – not bad, Tribe fans!
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) March 3, 2014
The Indians followed up with a press release indicating that this is the 22nd straight sold out Home Opener and the 21st at Progressive Field. Not a bad little streak for this team and this town.
Hopefully, the play on the field leads to lots of meaningful games and more than one playoff game for the fans to sell out this fall.
The Luol Deng era in Cleveland will last longer than the Andrew Bynum era ever did, but that’s not saying much. Bynum was traded to Chicago for Deng and subsequently cut. The stories started to come out about the end of Bynum’s time in Cleveland shortly thereafter. Bynum had been suspended by the team and told to stay away after he started undermining the coaching staff. Now that Bynum is looking for yet another fresh start, this time in Indianapolis, he admitted some of the things he did to earn his suspension and exit.
Also, Bynum raged against the shoot-first guards. During a practice, Bynum said that he launched a shot from midcourt, clearly out of the rhythm of the offensive play. Another day during a scrimmage, he did not like a call from assistant coach Phil Handy and mocked him as “a horrible referee.”
“Those are the two things I did,” Bynum says. “I did them on purpose because it was over there for me.”
Of course, Bynum couldn’t possibly take the blame without blaming the “shoot-first” guards. And of course Andrew Bynum just wants “a championship.”
Andrew Bynum wants a championship? Am I supposed to be impressed by that? Does that make me think that Andrew Bynum is somehow operating under an understandable missive that allows him to petulantly push his way out of Cleveland?
Bynum wants a championship? Get in line.
And speaking of getting in line, Bynum better try it soon. He’s running out of places to have colorful articles written about a misunderstood player featuring artistic photos in a new jersey with a basketball on his shoulder.
I wonder if Bynum felt even the tiniest bit fraudulent while posing for this photo with the Indianapolis Star.
For Cleveland, it doesn’t really matter that much. Bynum wasn’t a part of whatever solution the Cavs were looking for. The Cavs got at least part of a season of Luol Deng out of the experiment, so all’s just as well without Andrew Bynum on the team today.
Still, the Bynum career arc is a crazy one that just happened to have a brief intersection with the city of Cleveland. We’ll see if it turns out to be longer than the flowery column that another city has spent time writing about the weak-kneed seven-footer.
It’s not going away. I’m speaking of the conversation about Chief Wahoo. We’ve talked about it here. It’s been talked about many other places as well. It’s not going to go away until the Chief goes away for good. Love it or hate it, that seems to be the inevitable truth. Now the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s editorial board has joined the chorus in their editorial.
But Americans have a long history of giving up on once-acceptable traditions when they come to realize the consequences — as unintended as they may be — of keeping them going.
The bottom line is that having Wahoo on the roster won’t provide the team with a right-handed power hitter, a shutdown closer or a third baseman who can hit. Wahoo contributes nothing to the performance of the Indians on the field, and makes the team seem hopelessly backward in the eyes of the world.
It’s not unlike a lot of things that have been discussed ad nauseum right here on WFNY. It seems that there will never be wholesale agreement on the topic, but my current position is one of pragmatism even more than anything else. We know enough about the cultural shifts in the country over time to unequivocally know that the Chief won’t last forever. Oddly enough, as much as Chief Wahoo offends or even de-humanizes people, it serves as a catalyst for Cleveland and its fans to stand in the line of fire.
My plea is for it to end, if for no other reason, than to stop the shots being fired at Cleveland from judgmental, scornful outsiders. Bending to outside pressure isn’t a lot of fun, but we know how this thing is going to end. Might as well hit the fast forward button. I’d like to just talk about baseball again. There’s only one way to do that.
Andrew at WFNY discussed the topic most recently in October. Make sure you read his post.
I fully support the NFL’s initiative to clean up it’s language and reform their (ahem) unorthodox workplace. We’ve seen some of the strange and destructive side effects of allowing such a “unique” culture to persist around the game of football. We have a better view of it than ever before thanks to the information age. From Richie Incognito in the professional ranks, all the way down to Steubenville, it’s been an interesting couple of years for the culture of football as it stands trial in a great many courtrooms – both real and of public opinion. Seeing it all up close and personal, the NFL is right to change their ways, but that’s not what I want to talk about. While I support the NFL’s common sense initiative, I’m scared of the way they are proposing to eradicate this language from their game – namely via 15-yard penalties.
Part of the Browns’ off-season has obviously been a debate over what priority the Browns should place on which positions.1 Some fans prefer that the Browns draft a quarterback no matter what. Some fans prefer standout wide receiver Sammy Watkins who showed off his skills against the (mostly) popular Ohio State Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. There are more still that don’t name a specific player but insist on the Browns taking the best player available at all times. I largely stand with this last crowd, but I also recognize a clear and obvious premium that must be placed on the quarterback position in the NFL. With that in mind, while I don’t have any kind of mandate in mind that I want to try and artificially put on the Browns, I can’t help but think the Browns would be wise to hedge against the wild fantasies about Brian Hoyer proving to be a franchise quarterback.
There are enough examples in history that make our dreams of Hoyer becoming the next Kurt Warner legitimate enough. Could it happen? Of course it could. But there’s at least equal chance that Hoyer won’t become the next Tony Romo.2 He could just as easily be Kelly Holcomb. In many of Holcomb’s 24 career NFL starts, someone thought they’d have a chance to win with Holcomb. In those 24 starts, Holcomb went 8-16, including his 4-8 mark with your Cleveland Browns. [Read more...]
Just in case you didn’t believe the hours of video evidence indicating that Johnny Manziel was fast, now we have further evidence to support that opinion. The NFL combine 40-yard dash results for QBs is in the books and no quarterbacks ran faster in a straight line for 40 yards than did Johnny Football.
Manziel’s times bested the rest of the quarterback field, most by a significant margin. Fresno State’s Derek Carr turned in the second-fastest time among quarterbacks with a 4.65, followed by Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch (4.72) and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (4.75). Central Florida’s Blake Bortles ran a time of 4.81.
Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville chose not to run, so that leaves me wondering if I can believe the game tape I’ve seen of him that indicates he is faster than other players on a football field.
I know I’m being kind of dismissive of the 40-yard dash here, but it really does make sense. Running fast is important, but we already know guys like Johnny Manziel are fast. We’ve already factored it into the ideas we have about him. More important for Manziel are his interviews that will help determine his character, maturity and potential work ethic.
The 40 is important some of the time, however. It could work as a determining factor for more “project” types of players who can make their way into the NFL via special teams. A faster 40-yard dash helps identify gunners who also play defensive back, wide receiver or running back, for example.
I just question the importance of the 40 when discussing top-of-the-draft QBs.