April 19, 2014

Grantland lays out blueprint for Cleveland Browns free agency

259-20130726-0666_600

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.

Browns sign linebacker Craig Robertson as exclusive-rights free agent

Robertson3

Don’t you go worrying about those supposed holes in the Cleveland Browns linebacking corps: The team has extended a contract tender to inside linebacker Craig Robertson as an exclusive-rights free agent.

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal confirms, through a team spokesman, that Robertson has been tagged with the “exclusive rights” maneuver, one that provides a player who has fewer than three seasons of experience with absolutely nothing in the way of leverage. Robertson will return to the Browns for the 2014 season after serving as a full-time starter last year, playing alongside the recently departed D’Qwell Jackson. According to the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, the inside linebacker’s salary for the upcoming season will be $570,000. He will become a restricted free agent in 2015.

Heading into last season, Robertson was working extremely hard to make an impact, even being called then defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s “ace in the hole.” So, how did Robertson fare last season? Buckle up.

ProFootballFocus ranked Robertson, who was fourth on the team in tackles (89), 52nd out of 55 inside linebackers last season. The website’s ratings placed him 48th against the run and a league-worst 52nd in coverage. Robertson was targeted often on third-down situations (58 times in total), allowing an incredible 86.2 percent of all pass attempts in his direction to be caught; the 376 yards after catch allowed by Robertson was second-worst in the NFL. Needless to say, after a relatively productive 2012, there’s a little room for growth in 2014.

Image: Candice Vlcek/WFNY

Browns current cap space estimated to be $50.4 million

TJWard6

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.

[Related: D’Qwell Jackson follows Chud, T-Rich to Indianapolis Colts]

(Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY)

D’Qwell Jackson’s free agent tour stops in Miami

DJackson2

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.

[Related: The Browns have a lot of money, so why not just spend it all?]

The Browns have a lot of money, so why not just spend it all?

DJackson2

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.

[Read more...]

Talking Browns and NFL combine with @jimkanicki – WFNY Podcast – 2014-02-27

WFNY Podcast LogoJim Kanicki (Mike Burgermeister) joined me today to discuss all things Browns. We talked about the Browns decision to release D’Qwell Jackson, the shakeup of the front office, the free agencies of Alex Mack and T.J. Ward, Mike Pettine and lots about the combine. Is the combine meaningful? If so, how meaningful?

Check out this episode!

Cleveland Browns say farewell to their leader, release D’Qwell Jackson

DJackson2

Once upon a time I thought that D’Qwell Jackson was going to be cut by Joe Banner for financial reasons. Now it appears that the financial reasons were good enough for Ray Farmer as well. Mary Kay Cabot reports that the Browns have said goodbye to the team’s long-tenured linebacker and leader after eight seasons with the team.

“We had positive discussion with D’Qwell and his agent over the last several days, and we came to the mutual agreement to go in different directions,” said Browns general manager Ray Farmer. “D’Qwell is the epitome of class, leadership and professionalism. Every day of his NFL career, D’Qwell has been a solid representative of the Browns and the City of Cleveland, both between the lines on Sundays and off the field in our area community. We want to thank him for his eight years of service and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

Earlier in the off-season, Jackson said he’d be “shocked” if he wasn’t back. Shortly after Mike Pettine was hired, we discussed Jackson’s future and the linebacker position for the Browns in general.

D’Qwell Jackson, the team’s current middle linebacker and captain, is owed a lot of money this year. If they cut him, it will add about $4.2 million in dead money to the books, but if they keep him, it will cost them over $8 million.

So go ahead and add that $4.2 million in dead money to the more than $6.5 million that was accelerated onto the cap with the trade of Trent Richardson. Make no mistake though, beyond  the cap ramifications, this will save the team cash. It saves them enough that they can pay a huge portion of the 2014 NFL draftees.

The lesson? Even on a team with financial flexibility for days as the Browns have with their cap situation, teams don’t like to spend inefficiently between what a guy’s contract pays him versus what his performance is worth on the field. That gap widened too much for the respected D’Qwell Jackson to keep his roster spot with the Cleveland Browns.

“To the people of Cleveland and Browns fans everywhere: Eight years ago I began a journey that blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful organization and community,” said Jackson. “I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for opening your arms and hearts to my family and me, and for making Cleveland an easy place to love and call home. It’s been an honor playing in front of you.

“I also would like to thank the Browns players, coaches and staff for their tireless work and commitment.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all and will always carry you with me.”

While painful, I think it’s a good move for the team. As much as I love D’Qwell Jackson as a human and as a player, he’s never risen to the level of stardom that dominant defenses need from their middle linebackers. Jackson is a solid player and a likable guy, but I’ve long felt having him as the field leader put something of a ceiling on how good the defense could become.

It’s a sad day for Browns fans in many ways, but it seemed inevitable.

[Related: Reign On Spotlight Player of the Week: D’Qwell Jackson]

Mike Pettine’s arrival likely means an upgrade at inside linebacker

DQWell JacksonOne thing that has been a hallmark for defenses under Mike Pettine has been inside linebacker. When he was with Rex Ryan in Baltimore, that meant Ray Lewis. When he and Ryan went to the Jets, Pettine is reportedly the man who wanted Bart Scott—badly. Also, it wasn’t until the Bills’ third pick last year, but it was the second round when they found it a priority to go get Oregon’s Kiko Alonso.1 With Mike Pettine coming to Cleveland, it’s safe to assume that the Browns will address the center of their defense.

D’Qwell Jackson, the team’s current middle linebacker and captain, is owed a lot of money this year. If they cut him, it will add about $4.2 million in dead money to the books, but if they keep him, it will cost them over $8 million. Maybe there’s a middle ground and a forthcoming re-negotiation that works for both parties. Craig Robertson had a year. That’s about the best I can say for him. It wasn’t the worst year ever, but it wasn’t the kind of year that will keep anyone thinking he’s much more than a backup.

Between the draft and free agency, I expect that to be a place the Browns make some moves. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Browns fans should remember Alonso from his athletic leap over the entire goal line scrum to grab Willis McGahee and prevent him from scoring. []

Breaking down Davone Bess’ contract and the cost of cutting him

148-20130726-0350_600In light of Davone Bess’ strange behavior that Scott so eloquently discussed today, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a hard look at the financial implications of saying goodbye to the receiver.

The Browns traded for Bess during the NFL draft of 2013. To get Bess to Cleveland cost the Browns their 4th rounder (104) and 5th rounder (164,) while they also received Miami’s 4th (111) and 7th rounder (217.) That’s a lot of moving pieces, but let’s explore.

Browns received Davone Bess, pick number 111 which was traded to Pittsburgh, who took Shamarko Thomas, and 217 which the Browns used to pick Armonty Bryant.

The Browns traded 104, which the Dolphins used to select Jalani Jenkins, and 164 which the Dolphins used on running back Mike Gillislee.

The Browns then gave Davone Bess a contract for four years and $14.18 million. The deal included $5.75 million in guaranteed money, but basically no bonuses. Bess made just over $2.6 million in 2013, and is guaranteed his 2014 salary of $3.067 million, from what I can tell. So, even if they cut Bess, I believe they would take a cap hit of $3.067 million.

The Browns can afford it, of course, but that doesn’t mean they’d prefer to afford it. The Browns might be incurring a large sum of “dead money” at a record pace.

If the Browns cut Bess, that will add more than $3 million to Trent Richardson’s $6.67 million in dead cash. If they also cut D’Qwell Jackson and Brandon Weeden, for example, that would add $4.2 million for each to the pool, bringing the total dead amount to just over $18 million in cap hits for guys who aren’t contributing on the field at all for the team.

If my calculations are correct and the Browns do part ways with Bess, D’Qwell Jackson, and Weeden, they will still only have a cap number of approximately $100 million (51 players) while the total cap value is $123.6 million for 2014. This means the Browns will have around $23-24 million if available cap space, but they also have potentially expensive negotiations going on with T.J. Ward and Alex Mack. Signing those two players – while good – presumably only keeps the team at its current level of quality as opposed to improving it.

The good news? If the Browns decide to cut Greg Little, his dead money will only be $230,000.

The bad news? The former – being able to cheaply cut a 2013 starter – qualifies as good news with regard to the Cleveland Browns right now.

[Make sure you read: The Decomposition of Davone Bess]

D’Qwell Jackson on Chud: “He came in and did everything right.”

On the bus back to Pittsburgh, Jabaal Sheard showed me a text from his agent that said Chud could be fired. I said, ‘No way. No way.’ After the Trent Richardson trade and our quarterback injuries, I thought for sure he’d get a pass. Not one year. Come on. One year? There’s no way. Chud was good for us, good for the team. He came in and did everything right, I thought. At the end of the day, you’ve got to trust Banner and company know what they’re doing, and have something planned for us. [...] [Pittsburgh has had] three [coaches] since 1969? That’s incredible. Next year will be my ninth season here—and it’ll be my fifth head coach. [...] We’ve had some crazy things happen since I’ve been here. This is actually the second time a coach got fired after we bused back from our last game in Pittsburgh. It happened to Romeo Crennel too. But this one, this tops the list. This is just crazy.

— Cleveland Browns linebacker and team captain D’Qwell Jackson, to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, following the firing of head coach Rob Chudzinski. Chudzinski was fired following the Browns’ 20-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, just one year after being hired. Jackson’s status with the team going forward is also in question as the team-leader in tackles is also due a roster bonus of $4.1 million on March 11 and has a cap number of $9.43 million for 2014. His outspoken defense of Chudzinski could also play a role.

[Related: Eight wins or bust for the Browns in 2014]

Scott Raab talks about Rob Chudzinski being fired and Andrew Bynum – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-30

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab couldn’t be finished with the WFNY Podcast for 2013 after what happened over the weekend, so we decided to do one more in 2013. We touched on all of the obvious topics including…

  • Scott Raab talking about the Browns
  • Dumpster fire’s use in the mainstream
  • Joe Banner and the ego that goes with firing Chud
  • Jimmy Haslam’s role in the firing
  • The informational path from Mike Lombardi to the media
  • How should fans react to this today?
  • Was Rob Chudzinski the wrong guy for the job?
  • Rob Chudzinski’s own issues and how they impacted his own firing
  • Tony Grossi’s post about Chud refusing to cut Greg Little and Shawn Lauvao
  • Professional sports leagues are cartels, not pizza parlors
  • Scott: “We’re prisoners, not customers”
  • Is there anything Haslam and Banner could say for Scott?
  • Media should have an adversarial relationship with the front office
  • The Kyrie Irving situation is going to end the same way the LeBron one did
  • The Art Modell move continues to haunt coverage of the Browns
  • Andrew Bynum, the media and the Cavaliers’ future
  • Brian Windhorst continues to be one of the best Cavs beat reporters
  • The Kyrie Irving scenario and how it’s playing out [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Game 16: Winners and Losers

WinnersLosers_WFNY

Good grief.

LOSER: Rob Chudzinski. Rob Chudzinski finished the season with a 4-12 record and was fired from the team he grew up rooting for. His dream job turned into a nightmare.

WINNER: Rob Chudzinski. Chud gets to sit back for four years and collect millions of dollars. He can choose to be an assistant coach again somewhere or perhaps go into broadcasting. Maybe he’ll just spend some time with his new baby boy and the rest of the family. I would. Enjoy your paid time off Rob. [Read more...]

D’Qwell Jackson ‘shocked’ if he’s not with Browns in 2014

“I don’t even like talking about it. I know it’s a business and things change all the time, but as far as I’m concerned I haven’t thought about that one time. I feel good in my position where I am. From what I know, I’m part of the plans, I’ll be here next year.”

“Now I’m stuck to Cleveland. It’s going to be hard to go somewhere else and play. I know it’s the nature of the business, things may change and I’m fully aware of that. Right now, I’m a Cleveland Brown through and through.”

– Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, to the Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot, on his future status with the organization. The 30-year-old has a major $4.1 million roster bonus due in March, but would feel “absolutely shocked” if he’s not with the team in 2014, per Cabot.

Jackson’s overall cap hit for next year is $8.1 million. He signed a five-year extension through 2016 that included $19 million guarantees and bonuses. Cabot reports that Jackson’s camp currently is not expecting Cleveland to ask to restructure his contract.

This season, as seemingly always, the Maryland product leads the Browns in tackles with 134. He has played in all but one defensive snap this season for new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who called Jackson “coach’s dream as far as leadership, intelligence.”

The Browns also will have key offseason decisions to make on All-Pro center Alex Mack and alternate safety T.J. Ward. Jackson, as a beloved team captain, likely should remain in town despite some of the ongoing rumors.

[Related: Browns hire Lombardi and Chudzinski — WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2013: No. 5]

NFL News: Kellen Winslow trash talks the Browns, saying they “can’t guard me”

Former Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow is running his mouth as his current Jets squad prepares for the Cleveland Browns this weekend. He has a lot of time to talk, probably because he doesn’t really practice anymore given the state of his knees.

“Who’s going to guard me over there? Nobody,” Winslow said. “That’s how I feel, and that’s how I play the game. That’s how you gotta play the game. You’ve just got to play the game, and that’s all.”

The 6-8 Jets are talking trash, and why shouldn’t they as they look down at the 4-10 Browns coming into their stadium this weekend? Sure, the Jets have lost four of five games coming into this weekend, but the Browns have lost their last five and eight out of their last nine.

Winslow has served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s rules on PEDs this season, but he’s played pretty well. In ten games so far this season he has 27 receptions for 319 yards. Not at all bad production for a 30-year-old tight end who has had numerous knee surgeries over the years.

We’ll see if the Browns can cover him this weekend, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he didn’t make some catches against a Browns linebacking corps that has struggled in coverage at times.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Barkevious Mingo and Expectations]

For now, belief in Joe Banner overshadows Browns wins and losses

Joe BannerOne of the most interesting aspects of the 2013 Cleveland Browns is that despite the losses on the field, I’m still very satisfied with the organizational structure that’s been built in Berea. The organizational structure they’ve put in place is by far the most comprehensive of any I can remember since 1999, and that starts at the top with CEO Joe Banner. I’ve said on a number of occasions that Joe Banner is likely the most qualified executive to ever be hired in Berea. After polling fans last week, it seems that my fellow fans are of the same opinion. Joe Banner had 47% of fans above the “No opinion” line and 84% were at least neutral or better overall. That really says a lot about the belief in an executive who has given Browns fans some very good sound bites and an on-field product with only four wins so far. And despite my continued criticisms of the won-loss record, I voted “Like him” at this point as well.

Despite the current optimism, the challenges awaiting Joe Banner this off-season are numerous. There are plenty of draft picks, including Indianapolis’ first rounder, that need to be chosen. Many fans will have a watchful eye on how the Browns handle their own free agents, namely T.J. Ward and Alex Mack. It’s very difficult to say just how good Mack and Ward are compared to what they’ll garner in their next contract, but it’s also very difficult to envision improving the Browns year-over-year while also allowing those two positions to become holes that need filling. [Read more...]

Reign On Spotlight Player of the Week: D’Qwell Jackson

As a local market representative and league manager of one of 16 teams invited to be a part of Crown Royal’s inaugural Fantasy Football League dubbed “First and Crown,” I will be using this spot every Sunday before the Browns kick off against their respective opponent to tell you who I’ll be watching during this Week’s contest.

This Week’s Spotlight: D’Qwell Jackson, ILB

DJacksonFor a defense that is allegedly among the best in the NFL, Cinderella’s carriage sure turns into a pumpkin once that down marker reads “3.” The Cleveland Browns defense has done an exceptional job on first and second downs, holding opposing rushers and terrorizing quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers. But it’s on third downs when Ray Horton’s ears-pinned-back defense gets shredded in the most frustrating of fashions—screen passes, previously unknown tight ends on post patterns, and broken plays extended by athletic quarterbacks being among them.

This week, as the Browns look to break their much-discussed 11-game losing streak against the Baltimore Ravens, where stopping Joe Flacco on third down will be imperative. Shifty, pass-catching running back Ray Rice is reportedly healthy after sustaining an injury during the last match-up between these two teams. And for this reason, it is the team captain and containing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson who gets this week’s Spotlight.

As Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo and Jabaal Sheard try to reach the quarterback before he can make a decision, it will be up to Jackson (and teammate Craig Robertson), to hold down the middle of the field—to get down the line when needed, to fill in the gaps, and to bring down Rice any time his number is called.

The Ravens no longer have Anquan Boldin. It can be reasonably assumed that All-Everything cornerback Joe Haden will be blanketing Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. Marlon Brown, Baltimore’s Week 2 hero, is losing targets to Jacoby Jones. Alas, it will be up to Rice to carry a good portion of the load for his team. Conversely, it will be up to DQ52 to carry the momentum gained from the second half of last week’s loss and get his defense off of the field after three downs. Stopping Rice is a terrific first step in doing just that.

Previous Spotlight Players:

Josh Gordon, WR
Barkevious Mingo, OLB
Brandon Weeden, QB
Jabaal Sheard, OLB
Paul Kruger, OLB

Image via Candice Vlcek/WFNY

Browns-Chiefs: Three things to watch

The Browns enter Arrowhead Stadium this afternoon as heavy underdogs and with a new starting quarterback for the third time this season. After the highs of the three-game winning streak, the team has lost two straight to NFC North opponents, and they’re looking to get back to the .500 mark. Facing one of the NFL’s fiercest and most surprisingly effective defenses, that’s no small task. Here’s three things I’m looking at if the Browns want to win or at least be competitive against the undefeated Chiefs this afternoon.

brownschiefs

1. You don’t need to be great, Campbell, just efficient. [Read more...]

Browns defense disappointed following loss to Detroit Lions

IMG_20131013_164955_371The Browns came into Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions with a top-10 rated defense, and more quarterback sacks than 30 other NFL teams. They ranked fourth in yards-per-game allowed and ninth in points allowed, and they were well on their way to padding those numbers heading into the locker room for halftime.

In the first half Detroit was just 2-for-7 in third-down conversions. They had 109 yards of total offense. For comparison sake, the Browns had 115 rushing yards alone. Detroit’s running backs were held to a 2.4 yards-per-carry average and Matthew Stafford had completed less than half his pass attempts. A single touchdown was all the Lions had on the board.

Three times in the first half the Lions went three-and-out. A fourth drive manged a single first down before another punt. In all they punted five times.

Which makes what happened in the second half that much harder to swallow.

After halftime ended, the Lions never punted. They scored three touchdowns and a field goal, and had a ball intercepted in the end zone. [Read more...]

Why I don’t like the Trent Richardson trade… yet

MMQB Hates Trent RichardsonI have the feeling that there are more fans of the Trent Richardson trade than detractors at this point in time. That wasn’t the case on the day that the trade occurred, I don’t think. Those who claimed that the Browns were tanking the season (like I did) have been treated to a three game winning streak. Those who liked the trade have been treated to the same winning streak, but also seem to be claiming they are now correct about the Trent Richardson trade due to the fact that the Browns are winning without him right now. Combine that with T-Rich’s continued difficulty running the ball in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck and you have a perfect storm of people jumping to conclusions. I might learn to love the Trent Richardson trade. I’m willing to admit it might be a good move for the Browns, but I’m just not sure yet.

Let’s talk about the three game winning streak. This piece of “evidence” as to why the Trent Richardson trade was good is flimsy at best. The Browns did go on a three game winning streak after the trade of Trent Richardson, but they also switched quarterbacks to Brian Hoyer and got Josh Gordon back. To think that Trent Richardson was somehow holding the team back from winning is silly. Beyond that, is there anyone who thinks Trent Richardson wouldn’t also have benefitted from the return of Josh Gordon and the switch to Brian Hoyer? The bottom line for me is that Trent Richardson – while maybe not good enough for his draft position – clearly makes the Browns roster better than what it is today with McGahee, etc. How much better is up for debate of course, but I think it would be pretty undeniably better. [Read more...]

Leaders emerging in Cleveland Browns locker room

“I can’t say enough about the guys and what they’ve been able to do, how focused they’ve been. You’re really seeing an identity develop of this team. It’s a lot of guys going out to do their job, playing together. They’re relentless, they don’t flinch. There’s great leadership that you’re seeing from some guys like the D’Qwells and Joe Thomases, but even the Joe Hadens and the Phil Taylors and younger guys like that, stepping up. You know, Davone Bess, who quietly goes about doing his job and sets such a good example for guys. So there’s a lot of positives. I can’t say enough about the guys in the locker room and how they feel about each other and how hard they play for each other.” – Rob Chudzinski

Joe Thomas

On second-and-nine, with the Buffalo Bills already ahead seven to nothing, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer scrambled out of the pocket and took off towards the his team’s sideline. He got a block from running back Willis McGahee and found the first down marker before he started his slide.

Unfortunately for the Browns, Hoyer was hit as he slid, and his legs buckled underneath him.

Let’s face it, we’ve seen teams fold when this kind of thing happens. You don’t have to look much further than the team across the field this very Thursday night. The Bills were not very good when quarterback E.J. Manuel went out with a knee injury of his own. [Read more...]