April 19, 2014

Terrell Pryor to be cut or traded by Raiders

Terrelle Pryor Ohio State Sugar Bowl

Former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrell Pryor didn’t have an awful year last year, but he apparently isn’t going to be a part of the future in Oakland. It certainly sounds like if you’re a bettor that you should probably assume he’ll get cut.

It seems unlikely that anyone would trade for Pryor when the word is out that he’s about to be cut. Then again, he did show flashes of promise last season, and he’s only due a salary of $750,000 this year, so it’s possible that some team might think he’s worth a seventh-round pick.

I certainly don’t think this is the kind of thing that the Browns should pursue, but you never know where Ray Farmer and company might think to look for a backup to replace Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden. Terrell Pryor might not excite Browns fans, but in a field that includes Rex Grossman, it’s probably not the worst idea ever.

Pryor’s highlights from last year were mostly plays he made running the ball, but he did have two games where he had a QB rating over 100. He also had two games with over 100 yards rushing.

2014 NFL Draft: Browns interested in Andre Williams from Boston College

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You never really know where this kind of info comes from, or even what it means when it’s reported that a team has “interest” in a player. That being said, Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) indicates that the Browns are among the teams that are interested in Boston College running back Andre Williams.

The punishing Doak Walker Award winner set the Boston College single-season record with 2,177 rushing yards last season. He was a consensus All-American and rushed for 18 touchdowns last season…

Wiliams has drawn second-round to third-round grades.

It’s even harder to try and project out past the first part of the first round of the draft if you can even successfully do that. It’s especially difficult in a year where there’s seemingly no clear cut number one pick for the Texans. So, to go on down and look at a prospect who is vaguely projected between the second and third rounds is tough.

Still, I am fully interested and in favor of all this talk about the Browns and their renewed commitment to the running game. It wasn’t necessarily their fault a year ago when Trent Richardson faltered out of the gate and Dion Lewis got hurt before the season even started. Still, it’s nice to know that a year after suffering through the dying breaths of Willis McGahee that the Cleveland Browns might just commit to the running game again.

That commitment will include former Bengals fullback Chris Pressley, Ben Tate, and hopefully a prospect from the draft.

2014 NFL Draft, re-upping Brian Hoyer, Mike Evans over Sammy Watkins and C.J. Mosely – WFNY Podcast – 2014-04-15

WFNY Podcast LogoThe fake Jim Kanicki or the real Mike Burgermeister joined me to talk through some Browns topics.

We talked about the 2014 NFL draft, specifically who the Browns should take at #4. Mike Evans vs. Sammy Watkins and talking about three studs on the offensive line.

Finally, we talked a bit about NFL draft cliches.


Check out this episode!

Clowney will not hold private workouts before NFL Draft

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What’s the down side in not attending a draft prospects Pro Day? The Cleveland Browns may soon find out.

In the wake of an injury sustained by Clemson’s Brandon Thomas, potential first-overall draft selection Jadveon Clowney will not be participating in any private workouts heading into May’s NFL Draft. “He still will visit teams and interview with coaches and GMs,” writes SI’s Peter King, “but his next show-and-tell football performance will be after the draft in a mini-camp, with whichever team picks him.”

The Browns were the only team to not have front office members present at Clowney’s (incredibly impressive) Pro Day two weeks back, citing that “being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted.” Unfortunately for Cleveland, they’ll now see neither.

This (bound to be controversial) decision by Clowney will only serve to add to the talented pass-rusher’s mystique while making the monocles pop out of the eyes of schoolmarms like this “personnel man” throughout the league. Remember, this was the same player who was accused of milking injuries to not hinder his draft stock just weeks after being the subject of glowing columns and feature-length stories.

Isn’t anonymous character assassination delightful?

(Photo: Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports)

Some Friday @sportsyelling about the Indians, Cavs, Browns and Pittsburgh – WFNY Podcast – 2014-04-11

WFNY Podcast LogoI really enjoyed my first podcast with @sportsyelling, so I asked her to come back and she said yes.

We talked about Lonnie Chisenhall and his paternity leave, the Cleveland Indians early results, the Browns and if they should do Hard Knocks, the Cavaliers and whether you’d rather have a hockey team and lots lots more.


Check out this episode!

Your move, Browns – Alex Mack signs Jacksonville offer sheet

Who else would report it, but Adam Schefter? Alex Mack’s deal has reportedly been signed and it’s all pretty straight-forward.

So the Browns are on the clock even before the NFL draft. I have no idea how long they’ll take, but I think this is probably a pretty palatable deal if they were true to their word they wanted him back. It gives Mack a good amount of guaranteed money and also the right level of flexibility for a guy who was drafted by Mangini under Randy Lerner before coming up for renewal under Jimmy Haslam and Ray Farmer. Think of it this way, to keep it in perspective. Alex Mack was in the building at the same (very short) time as George Kokinis.

This is certainly far from as bad a deal as what many Browns expected. It also continues to show how silly Mack’s agent was when he said he thought he could create a deal that the Browns would have difficulty signing. The Browns aren’t guaranteed to sign this deal, of course, but it’s not the team killer anyone would have imagined in light of the agent’s posturing.

Hopefully shortly, we can just put this to bed.

Also see TD’s excellent work on new Cleveland Browns receiver Nate Burleson.

McShay’s latest mock: Bortles falls to Browns at No. 4; Carr still on the board after two rounds

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Are pundits souring on the quarterbacks? After having the “Big 3″ being taken within the first few picks, ESPN’s Todd McShay still has Blake Bortles being the first quarterback to be selected, but not until the fourth-overall pick as used by your Cleveland Browns.

Conceding to his Big Board, McShay has Houston selecting All-Universe defensive lineman Jadaveon Clowney with the first-overall pick. From there, Auburn’s Greg Robinson goes to St. Louis and Buffalo’s Khalil Mack gets nabbed by Jacksonville at No. 3.

I think this pick would come down to Bortles or WR Sammy Watkins. I’m going with Bortles. While he isn’t a perfect prospect at QB, he has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class. He has some improving to do with his mechanics, but he showed clear progress in that area during his pro-day workout, and he checks all the boxes in terms of his size (6-foot-5, 232 pounds), intangibles, character, mental makeup and leadership ability. He can also make plays with his legs and is more creative than he gets credit for.

McShay has Watkins going fifth to Oakland, Mike Evans going seventh to Tampa Bay, Johnny Manziel (who he had going fourth-overall last month) going eighth to Minnesota, and Teddy Bridgewater falling to Tennessee at No. 11.

Choosing Bortles over Watkins at No. 4, McShay once again pegs the Browns as selecting a wide receiver with the 26th-overall pick. This time, the receiver du jour is Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, the 6-foot-5-inch giant who was hauling in passes from Jameis Winston.1

This pair of picks would give Cleveland a young and potentially explosive passing attack to develop (TE Jordan Cameron and WR Andrew Hawkins would help round out an impressive receiving corps). Benjamin has a lot of developing to do as a route-runner and is inconsistent catching the ball on tape, but he is a red-zone nightmare who does a great job of coming down with 50-50 balls.

Fans of size will also like that McShay has pegged Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste in the second round. The 6-foot-3-inch corner would presumably step and provide size across from Joe Haden.

Derek Carr, a player recently linked to the Browns at No. 4, does not get selected in either of the first two projected rounds.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Footnotes:

  1. “It seemed like every time I looked up I had picked another wide receiver. There are a lot of teams with needs at the position, and a lot of good receiver prospects in this draft.” — McShay []

Jaguars to sign Alex Mack to a five-year offer sheet

Alex Mack

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Jacksonville Jaguars will sign highly-discussed transition-tagged center Alex Mack to a five-year offer sheet by Friday.

Per Schefter, Mack badly wants to play the five-year contract with the Jaguars and doesn’t want to return to Cleveland—this, of course, despite all of the posturing being done on the side of the Browns and their “feelings” about the situtation. As promised, Mack’s agent and the Jaguars will likely structure the deal in a way that will make it as difficult as possible for the Browns to match it, even though Cleveland is rife with cap space and possess the desire to retain Mack who is arguably the game’s best center.

For the Browns to pass, the Jaguars would allegedly have to make the first three years of any offer pay out somewhere between $22 and $25 million guaranteed loaded with roster and workout bonuses. While Cleveland has plenty of cap space, he issue for the Browns begin in 2015 and 2016, when some other players (Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, etc.) are in line for new deals.

The Browns will have five days to make a decision if and when a deal is officially signed.

[Related: Alex Mack may have missed the free agent party]

(Photo: Larry French/Getty Images North America)

Peter Pattakos talks about Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Sin Tax – WFNY Podcast – 2014-04-09

WFNY Podcast LogoWhen will Cleveland sports be about sports again? Well, for right now, there’s a lot of interest in issues off the field. I had a chance to catch up with Peter Pattakos of Cleveland Frowns on both the Cleveland Sin tax issue as well as the Chief Wahoo situation.

You can find Peter at his website or on Twitter.

Nate Burleson hopes to mentor Josh Gordon

Nate Burleson

Coming over to Cleveland for at least the next year,  veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson is well aware of the off-field issues that have plagued Josh Gordon’s two-year-old career—and he wants to help.

Pro Football Talk has some anecdotes from a story surrounding Burleson and All-World receiver Calvin Johnson who praised the young Browns pass catcher. The Akron-Beacon Journal takes things a step further, discussing how Burleson sees himself mentoring the highly-discussed Pro Bowler.

“If I can take a guy out to dinner, hang out outside of the locker room, then I’m definitely going to do that because that’s one of the more important times when the lessons are learned, when you’ve got the jerseys off and you kind of unveil yourself and it’s not all football,” Burleson said. “That’s how I got so close to the receiving corps in Detroit. That’s how I was able to really get to know Calvin on a personal level because we spent so much time with each other off the field. That’s the plan. I’m going to continue to do that. That’s part of my nature, though. That’s just who I am. I’m a social butterfly, and I feel like positive conversation, positive reinforcement is always going to supersede anything else.”

Those who have played with Burleson speak very highly of his talent (when healthy), but more so about his character. A lot has been made about surrounding young Browns players with veteran leadership—D’Qwell Jackson spoke similarly about Gordon just a year ago, saying the receiver was “running out of lives.” The Browns, in attempt to do the same for Gordon in 2013 swung and missed (perhaps the understatement of the season) in acquiring Davone Bess, who was released earlier this year after multiple off-field issues.

Despite Bess’ shortcomings, Gordon had one hell of a season in 2013. Hopes are that the Burleson acquisition can only make matters that much better, perhaps starting with having No. 12 eligible for all 16 games.

(Photo: Gary Wiepert/AP)

Browns reportedly agree to terms with Nate Burleson

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The Browns thought they had a reliable veteran receiver when they traded for Davone Bess last season. That didn’t work out all that well for the Browns as Bess turned into what appeared to be a pot-smoking rastafarian via his own social media presence. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Browns have found a new veteran as they’ve agreed to terms with Nate Burleson.

Burleson comes with his own problems, of course. He’s only been able to play 15 games in the last two seasons. Burleson has also only had one season of 1000 yards and that occurred an awful long time ago back in 2004.

None of this means Burleson can’t help for a year or so in Cleveland, of course. The 32-year-old former third rounder has had a long career and certainly knows what it takes to be a receiver in the NFL. We’ll see if he can find a way to contribute alongside Josh Gordon, newly signed Andrew Hawkins and whoever the Browns are likely to draft next month.

Speaking of Josh Gordon, he and Kyrie Irving are supposedly fighting.

[Related: The drama continues: Kyrie Irving calls out Josh Gordon]

(Photo Jason Miller / Getty Images)

Jennifer Garner talks about shadowing Browns capologist Megan Rogers for Draft Day

Draft Day is coming out on April 11th and I really can’t wait. Granted I’m only excited because this movie is about the Browns, but if you can’t trust Kevin Costner to make a decent sports flick, who can you trust?

Oh, and Jennifer Garner is rarely a chore to watch on-screen either.

Here she is talking (without an interviewer) about the upcoming movie, including how she was shadowing Browns capologist Megan Rogers.

Browns “aggressively” pursuing DeSean Jackson

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Well this is a pleasant surprise: Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is being pursued “aggressively” by the Cleveland Browns.

The Browns, per NBC Washington, are joined by the San Francisco 49ers as teams who covet the recently released three-time Pro Bowler. As Mike Florio reports, the timing of this news is interesting given that Jackson is reportedly nearing a deal with Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s former team, the Washington Redskins.

The Eagles were attempting to trade Jackson for a good portion of the offseason before releasing him outright following reports that the wide receiver had strong ties to Los Angeles-based gang members. Immediately following the news, a league source told ESPN that at least nine teams reached out to Jackson’s agent, Joel Segal—one of which, we now are led to believe are the one-time conservative Browns. This is the same team that traded a wide receiver days after he punched a friend of LeBron James and wanted to release another wide receiver as a means to “send a message” to the rest of the roster.

Cleveland has been linked to several wideouts during the course of the offseason as they continue to seek out an upgrade over Greg Little. While Ray Farmer and his team may not end up inking Jackson to a deal, one thing is apparent: This ain’t your father’s Browns.

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Browns one of two teams to not attend Johnny Manziel’s pro day

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The Chicago Bears and your Cleveland Browns were the only two teams absent from Johnny Manziel’s Thursday Pro Day, but they don’t seem to care.

Shunning off pro days as if they’re irrelevant has become quite the fad in Berea, the latest being due to a reported “schedule conflict.” Browns head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer (the latter did attend the Central Florida and Louisville for Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater, respectively) believe the events are “too scripted” for quarterbacks. Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, the head coach likened the difference between pro days and private workouts to a “slugger hitting home runs in batting practice versus live pitching.”

“A Pro Day of orchestrated throws, I don’t know what that tells you,” said Farmer. “It’s a piece of it that people blow up into this great thing. I went to a lot of games and practices this fall. I’ve seen them throw the ball.”

Manziel, who wore a helmet and shoulder pads (which were apparently a part of a Nike campaign—seriously), dazzled both on and off of the field, displaying a new grip and completing throws that even made ESPN’s Ron Jaworski a believer. Jaws, who was one of Manziel’s biggest critics, said that the Texas A&M product was “magnificent” just hours after saying he would not draft him within the first three rounds.

The Browns’ absence from Manziel’s Pro Day is notable, but they’re expected to conduct a private workout with the A&M signal caller between now and the May NFL Draft.

“We will have our opportunities to have private workouts,” Farmer said. “Being in charge of that workout is different than being at a Pro Day where it’s orchestrated and scripted.”

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Jimmy Haslam discusses relationship with Bill Parcells, role in NFL Draft

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What a difference a year makes. About this time in 2013, Jimmy Haslam was reassuming his role as chairman of Pilot Flying J, placing the Cleveland Browns in the hands of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, and speaking only through press releases and legal filters. There was a point where the team he had just purchased was merely a line item within a world in disarray. Today, though still under the microscope of legal scrutiny, the team’s majority owner has reassumed his role of a hands-on owner, sitting down with Browns beat writer Tony Grossi to discuss the lay of the land in Berea.

Grossi and Haslam discussed the team’s relationship with Alex Mack (Jimmy believes Alex wants to play in Cleveland), Bill Parcells (he’s not coming to Cleveland), and Brian Hoyer (he’s a “gamer.”). But the biggest takeaway, in what was another offseason of front office turmoil and severed solid and dotted lines, is the fact that Haslam says that the NFL Draft will be entirely in the hands of general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine.

“We will agree strategically that these are the positions we’ll concentrate on, but Ray and Mike and the football guys will make those football decisions,” said Haslam. “Zero chance [I tell Ray to draft a certain player or position]. We will have so many conversations between now and the draft about who we’re picking, this position or that one, who are the top three or four. We will be all planned out. That’s what getting ready’s all about. We’ll all participate.”

Given the current organizational structure, with Farmer, Pettine and team president Alec Scheiner reporting directly through Haslam, it appears, at least in quote, that things are headed in the right direction—a far cry from this mess, anyway.

Video: Johnny Manziel has a personal dunk contest on Instagram

The big question about Johnny Manziel is how his skills in the college game translate to the pros. What has never been questioned about Manziel is his pure athletic ability. That remains untarnished after the first round hopeful posted a highlight reel of him dunking a basketball to his Instagram.

OJ: The Musical and Cleveland sports with Jeff Rosenberg – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-24

WFNY Podcast LogoJeff Rosenberg (@jeff_rosenberg or @rosenbergsports) is a Shaker Heights native living in California and he has his film, OJ: The Musical in the Cleveland International Film Festival this weekend. We discussed his movie, Kickstarter and the rest of the Cleveland sports scene.

Make sure you check out the trailer to Jeff’s movie and also see the times it’s screening this weekend.

We discussed the Cavaliers, Chris Grant, Tristan Thompson and Jeff’s dislike of Mike Brown.

We discussed the elation at not having Joe Banner in the mix anymore in Berea.

Lastly, we made Tribe predictions for 2014.

Check out this episode!

Browns’ Hoyer ahead of schedule with ACL rehab

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Buried at the very bottom of a column on the Houston Texans trading Matt Schaub to Oakland is the news that Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer is ahead of schedule as he attempts to come back from tearing his ACL last October. Hoyer has been dodging bullets all offseason as the Browns are continually pegged as one of the teams that will be adding help at the quarterback position; they’ve only removed all of his competition to this point, releasing Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell earlier this month.

Hoyer went 2-0 and threw five touchdowns in the two full games he played in last season. He blew out his knee just under six months ago, but there’s already talk that he’ll get some work in during April OTAs. If this proves to be  true, he’ll be ready to battle for the starting job (with whomever the Browns add to the ranks) come August. The team is widely anticipated to be using a first-round pick in the impending NFL Draft on a quarterback, but talk seems to have shifted as of late as some think they could use the No. 4 pick on offensive line help.

In the meantime, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports expects the Browns to sign free agent QB Rex Grossman. After losing out on Schaub, Grossman is considered the next best free agent option. Sexy Rexy would presumably be a liason of sorts, linking former Redskins (and current Browns) offensive coordinator to whomever gets first-team reps come August.

(Diamond Images/Getty Images)

March Madness 2014 – Dayton takes down Syracuse, Justin Masterson and Alex Mack – WFNY Podcast – 2014-03-23

WFNY Podcast LogoIt has been far too long since I talked to Jacob and now that his Dayton Flyers have taken down Syracuse, we decided to chat.

We also talked about Justin Masterson and his contract situation with the Indians as well as Alex Mack and his contract situation with the Browns.

Check out this episode!

Pic: Do you want a Cleveland Browns wedding cake?

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If you want one of the happiest days of your life to remind you of 16 annual not happiest days of your life, then I have the product for you. Etsy is the Wild West of online stores where creativity flies at will. Here’s how the maker of said item describes it.

Looking for a unique and funny, yet still elegant wedding cake topper? Here you go, football fans!

The humorous resin-like bride and groom rest atop a 4 1/2 x 6-inch plastic oval professional cake topper base. The topper stands very roughly 6 inches tall.

The groom has his dazed eyes and thoughts on his team, but the bride is having none of it and is dragging him away from his team helmet and football. Great looks on both of their faces, and there are even “fingernail marks” on the figurine base noting that the groom is being “dragged” away. Too cute!

Happy wife, happy life. Well, maybe if she’s also a Browns fan.