August 18, 2014

Bengals now unlikely to match Browns’ offer for Andrew Hawkins

Hawkins

So, about all of that matched-offer-Julian-Edelman stuff..

Cincinnati wide receiver Andrew Hawkins officially signed the offer sheet proposed to him by the Cleveland Browns, and now it appears the Bengals will not match within their allotted time.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the offer is a four-year deal worth $13.6 million in total—more than both amounts which were originally reported—and that Hawkins stands to make $10.8 million in the first two years of the deal. This structure is not only in line with other deals the Browns have signed, but one that makes it increasingly difficult to match.

Albert Breer, also of NFL Network, reports that the Bengals are now unlikely to match.

The Browns were thought to have moved on from Hawkins, a Toledo Rocket, aiming their contract-drawing pens at New England’s Julian Edelman, a Kent State Golden Flash. If these updated reports hold true, the team would be foolish to sink two free agent contracts into one package-based position, regardless of any mid-major Ohio ties.

Browns sign Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins to four-year offer sheet

(Update: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bengals plan on matching the Browns’ offer. Given the $5.3 million guaranteed in the deal and the Bengals depth chart at wideout, the move is considered a surprise by many who cover the league.)

HawkinsOn the first day of free agency the Browns were busy replacing a pair of defensive leaders in D’Qwell Jackson and T.J. Ward. After coming to terms with safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Karlos Dansby, the team started to address the offense.

Cincinnati wide receiver Andrew Hawkins was signed to a four-year offer sheet worth a reported $12.2 million dollars. According to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer, a little over $4 million of that is guaranteed. However, the National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson reports the deal is worth $13.1 million.

Either way, the Bengals now have ten days to match the offer made by Cleveland, as Hawkins was a restricted free agent. The Browns will not owe any draft picks if the Bengals decide not to match the deal.

Hawkins, a University of Toledo Rocket, is a 5-foot-inch, 180-pound slot receiver. He just turned 28 on Monday.

In three seasons, Hawkins has 86 receptions for 995 yards and four touchdowns.

[Related: Browns ink Dansby for four years, $24 million]

Browns 2014 cap space projected to be over $45 million

Haslam and Banner 595 width

Chris Pokorny and our friends over at Dawgs By Nature have done some math and determined that the Browns should have somewhere north of $45 million available in cap space for the upcoming off-season. We all knew it would be a great deal of money, so it’s not a surprise, but even more than last year, I expect the Browns to be aggressive in trying to prop up their new coaching staff. That doesn’t mean that I think Banner and company will lose their heads, but I do expect them to spend in free agency, likely starting at home with T.J. Ward. Alex Mack? I’m not so sure yet.

So, how did Pokorny arrive at $45.46 million? The Browns have committed $98.19 million to existing players. The salary cap is projected to be $126.3 million, giving the Browns just over $28 million. Then add in 2013 carry-over of $24.54 million and you arrive at $52.65 million. Alas, the Browns do have a bit of dead money for guys like Owen Marecic and over $6.5 million in Trent Richardson bonus cash. That reduces the $52.65 million down to $45.46 million.1

It certainly puts the Browns in a position to make strides in the AFC North where the Steelers are currently projected to be about $10 million over the cap. They can replace more expensive players with cheaper ones in the draft, and also ask veteran players to restructure, but in a year after the Steelers had to become scrappy in order to be 8-8 it should give the Browns an opportunity to play catch-up. The same with the Ravens who feature some very expensive deals with Joe Flacco, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and even Ray Rice. The Ravens will have some tough choices as well. That is the good news. The bad news? The Bengals aren’t in bad shape with their projected $22 million available.

It should be fun to watch this Browns team attack their second free agency with this much cap space. I know most Browns fans are hoping it really does start at home with T.J. Ward and Alex Mack, two of the Pro Bowl players mentioned in Jimmy Haslam’s sales pitch to Browns fans this past offseason. There’s no telling how highly the Browns value their two free agents, but it’s hard to imagine there’s anyone out there who can pay much more.

[Related: Indianapolis Colts hire Rob Chudzinski as special assistant]

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Footnotes:

  1. For what it is worth, Davone Bess’ contract is fully guaranteed for 2014, meaning that (unless the team can recoup any of these funds through legal action), cutting him would not save the team any additional money. []

Steelers Depot helps break down the Browns and their coaching search – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-15

WFNY Podcast LogoDave Bryan from Steelers Depot (@SteelersDepot) is one of the best podcast guests we have. He’s super knowledgable, and is always great at breaking down what’s happening without the rose-colored glasses.

  • Dave Bryan and not being a homer for the Steelers
  • Is there ever a justification for firing a coach after one year?
  • Brian Hoyer and whether he can get the Browns to the next franchise QB
  • The perception of the Browns head coaching job
  • Adam Gase and why is he such an attractive candidate?
  • Josh McDaniels and his taking his name out
  • Jim Caldwell and Whisenhunt
  • Jake Locker and what can become of it
  • Chris Johnson and his poison contract
  • Ray Horton ending up with Whisenhunt in Tennessee
  • Ray Horton’s defense and Dick LeBeau’s defense
  • Chud talking to other potential coaching candidates
  • The hiring of Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh
  • T.J. Ward and Alex Mack better be brought back
  • Alex Mack and how the Browns need to bring him back
  • Moving Schwartz to guard and getting a new right tackle
  • The All-22 version of the national championship game
  • Football attendance at games
  • Making NFL stadiums smaller over time
  • Browns fan experience in the stadium is far better
  • The government attacking TV blackout policies
  • Dave would be shocked if the Browns didn’t bring back Ward and Mack
  • Did the Browns waste a year of not front-loading deals?
  • The Browns can only franchise one player between Ward and Mack
  • The Steelers and the Shamarko Thomas deal with Cleveland
  • Johnny Football and whether the Steelers would be concerned about him
  • Johnny Manziel is a guy that you root against
  • Manziel as a boom or bust guy
  • Could Brian Hoyer be that bridge to the QB of the future?
  • The Ben Roethlisberger extension

Check out this episode

Mike Zimmer joins Minnesota; Browns left as only opening

zimmerThe Minnesota Vikings have hired Mike Zimmer as their new head coach, leaving the Cleveland Browns as the only head coaching vacancy in the NFL.

Zimmer, 57, is the six-year Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator. He also spent seven years as the coordinator in Dallas and one in Atlanta. He previously has 15 years of college coaching experience on his resume.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen first reported shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday that the two sides were nearing a deal, as had been expected over the past few weeks. Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton was once interviewed, but was not seen as a finalist.

The hiring is being viewed favorably, as Zimmer is a very experienced candidate who had been passed over in several previous searches. Just after the hiring was making the rounds on Twitter, ESPN’s Adam Schefter added this nugget of information:

https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/423484599990095873

That would just add a bit more to the angst of Browns fans, even with owner Jimmy Haslam’s letter that he sent out earlier on Wednesday. Turner, 61, only has spent one season with the Browns after coaching San Diego for six years.

On Tuesday, Todd Bowles reportedly removed his name from the Browns search and Ben McAdoo joined the Giants as their offensive coordinator. That leaves Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and former Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak as the only two available interviewed candidates remaining.

The Browns appear to have their eyes set on young Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. But since he’s declined to do interviews until his season ends, we could be in for a few more weeks of waiting. But now that every other job is filled, there likely will be much less news to share.

[Related: Which is more important for the Browns, the right coach or quarterback?]

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Will Browns be motivated enough to dash Steelers playoff hopes?

chudzinski presserI have no doubt that on Sunday the Cleveland Browns players will be trying to win as they’re somewhere near a touchdown underdog on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t believe that players and coaches involved in an NFL schedule think about the NFL draft or anything other than doing their jobs and maybe trying to have fun as they play out their schedule. The Browns might not win this weekend in Pittsburgh, and they might even be generally unmotivated, but it won’t be “tanking” if they lose.

In a violent game like NFL football, we’ve seen what can happen to a quarterback who gets lazy in pursuit of the safety of out-of-bounds lines and take an unnecessary hit.  In a game where players get hurt all the time while trying their hardest, the injury rate has to be even higher when players are laying off and only half playing. There’s no way of measuring this, of course, but it makes loads of sense.

What does this mean for the Browns game this weekend? [Read more...]

NFL News: Cincinnati’s Domata Peko fined for penalty in Browns game

Domata Peko, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, was hit with a $7,875 fine by the NFL for a late-hit penalty in last Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.

The hit in question, which has been presented in a GIF by the Bengals blog Cincy Jungle, was with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter. Shortly after a Jason Campbell pass to new receiver Brian Tyms was broken up, Peko blasted through right tackle Mitchell Schwartz from behind. It’s possible he thought the ball was still lose, but he also wasn’t that close to the play.

Peko was asccessed with unnecessary roughness on the hit. The redzone penalty proved to be fruitless, as the Browns then later turned the ball over on downs on the NFL’s longest offensive possession (19 plays) on the season.

The Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at 1 p.m. at FirstEnergy Stadium.

[Related: Can the Browns rivalry with the Steelers ever return?]

The Diff: Stats on the Browns’ depressing loss to Cincinnati

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about the fascinating new SportVU data and early Cavaliers shooting charts. This week, it’s over to football to talk in “Fun With Numbers”-style about the Cleveland Browns’ horrific loss to Cincinnati.

The Diff

67.0% – The difference in winning percentage for the Browns between the end of the first quarter and halftime on Sunday in Cincinnati. When BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ three-yard loss of a run ended the first quarter, Cleveland held a 68.5% win probability, per the amazing research website Pro-Football-Reference.com. The road team’s high point was 80% following an Andy Dalton incompletion two minutes prior. But, by halftime, after a terrible, horrible 15-minute turn of events, Browns had just a 1.5% win probability. One play alone – the second blocked punt of Spencer Lanning – affected the odds by 17.2% while giving the Bengals their first lead of the game. [Read more...]

Pic: Browns fans show creativity in their team’s futility

Cleveland Browns fans rule. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Maybe it grows tiresome to some how this city’s fans dwell on negativity, but I still find it amazing how willingly they still show up all the time. Check out this coordinated duo who posed for this picture (via Reddit) yesterday at the Bengals game.

Browns fans at Bengals Game Yesterday

 

Awesome stuff. Of course, we prefer to replace the word “sadness” with “waiting,” but that’s just a website homer nitpicking, really. Plus, as one Reddit commenter pointed out, “we” were happy in 1964. (I was born in 1979, so I can’t say for sure.) Sadness probably didn’t set in until 1965.

[Related: Scott Raab talks Pete Franklin, Browns stadium, and Cavaliers – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-17]

NFL: Browns Phil Taylor takes hysterical dive trying to draw penalty

Phil Taylor acts like he was in The Last Boy Scout and someone ran down the field with a handgun. Good for the referees they didn’t fall for it. Anderson Varejao gives his approval.

[Related: Councilman: Goal of stadium upgrade is “to improve the Browns’ bottom line”]

Phil Taylor Dive GIF

 

 

Browns-Bengals Inactives For Week 11

The inactives for today’s AFC North tilt between the Browns and Bengals have been announced. For the 4-5 Browns, who are pretty healthy overall, there are no lineup changes and no real surprises on the inactive list either.

For Cleveland, the seven inactives are tight end/wildcat star Marquise Gray, linebacker Brandon Magee, four offensive lineman in Patrick Lewis, Martin Wallace, Garrett Gilkey and Reid Fragel, and finally defensive lineman Ishmaa’ily Kitchen. Of note for the Browns is offensive lineman Jason Pinkston returning to the active roster for the first time this season.

The 6-4 Bengals are missing several starters, much like they were in the last matchup between these two teams, including right guard Kevin Zeitler, linebacker Rey Maualuga, and safety Chris Crocker. Active today are both linebacker James Harrison and defensive lineman Vontaze Burfict, who were both limited in practice earlier in the week. Other inactive for Cincy are running back Rex Burkhead, tackle Tanner Hawkinson, wide receiver Ryan Whalen, and defensive lineman Devon Still.

Related: Browns-Bengals: Three Things For Power In The AFC North

Browns-Bengals: Three Things For Power In The AFC North

Today’s the biggest game the Browns have played in quite some time. With Cincinnati’s bye next week, a win today would setup the Browns needing a win over the Steelers to pull to even with the Bengals in the AFC North race. First things first, however, so let’s talk about how the Browns can pull off the season sweep against the Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium this afternoon.

brownsbengals

1. Weather or Not

The weather this afternoon in Cincinnati is supposed to be brutal with high winds and possible thunderstorms. Andy Dalton struggled in the Baltimore wind last week in an overtime loss. The Browns have nearly all of their effective offense come via the passing game. Because of this and the fact that both of these squads have strong defenses, you should expect another low-scoring affair, similar to the 17-6 Browns win in Cleveland.  Because the high winds could effect passing, kicking, and punting, field position will be at a premium. [Read more...]

Scott Raab on Richie Incognito, Jonathan Martin, the media, the Cavs and going for two – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-11

WFNY Podcast LogoThis week, with the Browns on the bye, Scott and I spent a lot of time talking about things that weren’t specifically related to Cleveland sports. We talked about the ongoing story of the Dolphins. We talked about the word “bullying” vs. the actual harassment. We talked about Richie Incognito and his checkered past. We talked about the culture of football and the culture of fans.

We also talked about the Cavaliers and the roster that Chris Grant has built. As it is undoubtedly early, there are still some real concerns over the roster that has been constructed by Chris Grant with the holes that are still left. Where will the roster go from here and how long will it take to find out exactly who they are?

Finally, we discussed the Bengals and their end-of-game strategy to kick an extra point to tie it at 17 rather than go for two and go home either as a one point winner or as loser on the spot. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns make it two in a row, beat the Bengals!

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 4.09.26 PM

Victory formation!

The Cleveland Browns did not get the memo on tanking the season with the Trent Richardson trade. The Browns beat the Bengals 17-6 to take their season record to 2-2. They beat an AFC North rival, which is always bonus. They did it at home. Most importantly, they did it on the same day they unveiled Brownie the Elf! What else is there to say?

One thing that shocked me going into the game this week was how little Browns fans and media I heard seemed to embrace how large of an underdog the Browns were. The Browns were coming off a road victory over the Vikings, but the Bengals are not the Vikings. They are the presumed best team in the AFC North and maybe the whole AFC.

Brian Hoyer appeared to be a pretty solid upgrade as a game manager from Brandon Weeden, and Josh Gordon had a monster first game, but the track record of the Bengals was meaningful. Yet it seemed that most fans and media I heard wanted to treat this week’s game like something of a toss-up. Maybe they were right, but I wasn’t buying it pre-game. [Read more...]

Jordan Cameron collects fifth receiving touchdown of 2013

The Cleveland Browns jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a Brian Hoyer connection to Jordan Cameron in the corner of the end zone. That touchdown was Cameron’s fifth of the season in the just the first quarter of the fourth game of the year.

A year ago, Cameron had only one TD catch in 14 games. Starter Ben Watson collected three TDs all season and trailed team leaders Josh Gordon and Greg Little who had five and four touchdowns respectively.

I thought Jordan Cameron would be a lot better this season, but I’m a bit blown away by the results thus far.

[Related: NFL Rumors: Browns to release RB Montario Hardesty]

Week 4: Browns-Bengals Open Thread

browns, bengals

Brownie’s BACK! The Cleveland version of the Battle of Ohio takes place today. Both teams are coming off of wins in the final minute last week, and a win could pull the Browns to .500, a position that looked impossible as little as two weeks ago. Here are a few keys that I’m going to be looking for (in between Tribe commercials, of course).

How the Browns handle the Bengals pair of running backs

I’m way more concerned about Giovani Bernard than I am Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis isn’t explosive (he’s had under 30 yards rushing in 2 of 3 games), but he’s good getting those short yardage pick-ups. Bernard could really hurt the Browns out in space in the screen game or running sweeps and such. Bernard had 14 touches for 99 total yards and 1 touchdown last week vs. Green Bay, so he scares me way more today. The Browns’ rush defense has been the strength of this team thus far, and it will need to answer the bell once again.

Can the Browns continue to air it out and exploit a banged up Bengals defensive backfield?

Three Bengals DBs are listed as doubtful for this afternoon’s game (Dre Kirkpatrick, Reggie Nelson, and Leon Hall). Can the Browns stretch the field and find Gordon, Benjamin, and Cameron on deep routes? Can Bess and Little effectively work the underneath and mid-range passing game? It’s a lot to ask from Brian Hoyer against this very good Bengals defense, but it’s what has to happen to get the W this afternoon.

Will the “committee of running backs” combine for at least 75 yards rushing? 

It’d be nice to see someone between Chris Ogbonnaya, Willis McGahee, or Bobby Rainey break a few runs and give the Browns offense some balance. Otherwise, it puts just too much pressure on Hoyer to execute and the blitzes will start coming (and they won’t stop comin’). McGahee has said he will do better this week. I expect him to do so. Also, they can’t forget about Ogbonnaya catching screens and dumpoffs out of the backfield. It’s worked before, and it could work again.

 

Here’s some links to wet your whistle ahead of kickoff from this past week at WFNY:

Rick – Thomas sets bar with 100th consecutive start

Rick – Browns Film Room Three: Pressure!

Scott – On Josh Gordon’s Numbers and Joe Banner’s Word

Kirk – Mixed emotions after a Browns’ win

 

 

The Diff: Kickers, running efficiency and the AFC North

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about Chris Perez’s future in Cleveland, stealing off my colleague Jon. Now, I’m sharing some NFL stats as the season begins tonight.

The Diff

Billy Cundiff as a solid kicker

NFL kickers are a strange breed. In essence, it’s the most baseball-like situation in any non-baseball sport. The conceptual understanding that makes baseball so logical to analyze is that each at-bat is an isolated incident. Yes, fielding is an unknown at times and statistical evaluations are just starting to get off the ground in this light. But pitching and batting are mano-a-mano situations. Same with a kicker. It’s very isolated and easy to understand in the aggregate. [Read more...]

ESPN predicts the Cleveland Browns to go 6-10, finish last in AFC North

The Cleveland Browns are likely a much improved team, but will still not gain ground in the standings of the AFC North. That’s the prediction by Jamison Hensley of ESPN.

The Cleveland Browns will end up being the most improved team in the AFC North and will still finish in last place. That’s how tough this division has become. The goal would be to reach .500, but there’s still too many holes on this team for the Browns to achieve that. This has the look of a sixth straight double-digit-loss season, even though this team will be better than the previous ones.

Of course predictions are tough in the NFL with so many rosters looking like shells of what they were in August by the time the season is over.

Additionally, this time of year everyone seems to think players will produce at their best levels from the year prior. So Joe Flacco is clearly the guy who threw no interceptions in the playoffs with a QB rating of 117.2 as opposed to the guy who averaged an 87.7 rating for the entirety of the regular season while also having Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in his arsenal. Hensley has predicted that the Ravens will win the AFC North title and go one win better during the regular season than they did a year ago to finish 11-5.

ESPN Steelers reporter Scott Brown, meanwhile predicts a 9-7 record for the Pittsburgh team while grasping at straws to justify an improvement over the 2012 season. “The Steelers slipped to mediocrity in 2012,” writes Brown before wondering, “and it is fair to ask whether they will be good enough to be even an eight-win team this season.” In the end, Brown must have been convinced by producing “evidence” about how the offense “could” be better in Todd Haley’s second season. That’s a stark contrast to the words of warning that ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha used in training camp indicating that Steelers fans could be in for a long year as the team could be “less competitive” than they were in going 8-8 in 2012.

Hensley finishes off the AFC North predictions by complimenting the Bengals, sending them to the playoffs for a third straight season with a 10-6 record.

It’s not totally different than predictions that we had here at WFNY for the division. A couple writers predicted the Bengals would take the top spot and a couple more predicted the Ravens would remain in the driver’s seat.

[Related: Ranking the teams in the AFC North: Cleveland Browns Roundtable]

More on the Cleveland Browns acquisition of John Moffitt

Moffitt 3The Browns acquired John Moffitt yesterday for Brian Sanford to help shore up their offensive line. This was certainly a good idea considering the injuries sustained to Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao recently. So the Browns acquired a lineman entering his third season with 17 career games played and 15 starts to his name. Most importantly though, what can he bring to the Browns right now?

I took a look at ProFootballFocus for a little more info and first thing I notice is that he’s seemingly much better at right guard than at left guard. In 2012 as a right guard, Moffitt’s overall rating for the season was -0.50 and his rating at left guard was -5.8. Moffitt had bad games against the Jets and Bears as a left guard, with the Bears being his worst performance of the season scoring a -4.5. Most of that negative rating comes from run blocking. So, we’ll have to see where the Browns line him up. [Read more...]

Ranking the teams in the AFC North: Cleveland Browns Roundtable

There’s no doubt the AFC North is under construction this season. It stands to reason that this could be one of the bigger years of upheaval in the division considering the Ravens Super Bowl victory and subsequent player departures. So, how does the WFNY crew think the division shakes out this year?

WFNY_roundtable

(Also see our previous roundtable: Browns Game 3 plans should remain unchanged: Cleveland Browns Injury Roundtable)

Craig: This morning we saw a headline with an ESPN writer predicting a regression by the Steelers, even from the 8-8 they experienced a year ago. I’ve noticed a hesitancy up to now for many who follow the NFL to predict a fall-off for the Ravens, but isn’t that almost a certainty at this point? I think the Bengals are clearly top of the AFC North power rankings this pre-season. How would you guys rank the AFC North at this point?

Scott: I’ve been calling for the Steelers’ regression for two or three seasons now—it just never seems to happen. [Read more...]