April 24, 2014

NFL Rumors: Alex Mack and TJ Ward to test free agency

Despite their 4-10 record the Browns have built a core to build around for the future, but this off season could see the departure of two key players via free agency. In Sunday’s version of “Hey, Mary Kay” Cleveland.com Browns’ beat writer Mary Kay Cabot suggests that both Alex Mack and TJ Ward are likely to test free agency and can expect to some big dollar offers on the open market.

“At this point, I think Mack and Ward will test the free agent market. I think both will command big dollars, but both would love to be back. I think the Browns will probably make offers, but both will most likely hit the jackpot elsewhere.” writes Cabot.

The Browns’ front office showed they weren’t afraid to spend some money last off season with the acquisitions of Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant, but how much they are willing to pay to retain their own players remains a mystery. Joe Banner is notorious for cutting ties with players earlier rather than later. He came under fire in Philadelphia after deciding to part ways with Eagles’ legend Brian Dawkins after Dawkins had given the Eagles 13 years of service, but Banner is a businessman so business always comes first.

While Dawkins was in the twilight of his career when Banner decided to part ways with him in Philly, Mack and Ward are coming into their primes as they complete their rookie contracts. The demand for a pro bowl center in Mack and a safety in Ward who received All-Pro consideration last year is surely to be high. Not to mention both have been healthy all of the 2013 season,.

[Related: Coordinators call out players for team's shortcomings: Browns Notes]

 

NBA News: Cavs’ Marreese Speights opts out of contract and will become free agent

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is reporting the Cavs’ Marreese Speights has opted out of the last year of his contract and will test free agency.

Speights,  due to make $4.5 million in 2013-14, sparked a much needed resurgence from the Cavaliers’ bench when he was acquired along with Wayne Ellington from Memphis back in January. In each of his first seven games as a Cavalier, Speights scored in double figures, including two double digit rebound games. He provided a much needed offensive option for Cleveland down in the paint, something Zeller and Thompson had been struggling to do consistently.

Consistency also became Speights’ biggest issue. Speights would mentally check out for whole halves and even games at a time, constraining the talented big man to long stretches on the bench for Byron Scott. For as well as Speights started his career as a Cavalier he ended it equally as bad. While Speights was in double figures in each of his first seven games, he failed to hit that mark in any of his final seven games in the Wine and Gold.

Nonetheless Speights has shown he can play at a high level for extended stints and he should garner some interest on the free agent market. The $4.5 million he was set to make in the final year of his contract with the Cavs is most likely less than he’ll get on the open market.

Also, with the Cavs using the first pick in the draft on power forward Anthony Bennett, Speights would have a hard time finding minutes in a rotation that is set to feature Bennett, Tristan Thompson, Andy Varejao, and Tyler Zeller.

The Cavs still have a team option to decide on with CJ Miles and are expected to re-sign Wayne Ellington to a $3 million qualifying offer. With the departures of Speights and Miles, and the resigning of Ellington the Cavaliers would have just under $26 million in cap space this summer.

Free agency begins Monday, July 1.

[Related: The NBA draft may be complete but Chris Grant's job is just getting started]

 [Related: Saturday Six Pack: Reasons to love Anthony Bennett]

Chris Grant says draft day moves are “just the beginning”

While Cavs fans are contemplating how draft picks Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev, and Carrick Felix will all fit with the current roster, Cavs General Manager Chris Grant indicated on Friday the Cavaliers’ roster is far from finished.

In an interview with ESPNCleveland’s The Really Big Show , Grant told show hosts Tony Rizzo and Aaron Goldhammer that “this is just the beginning” in reference to the team’s off season moves.

The Cavaliers were reportedly very active in trade talks leading up to the draft, with names such as Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion, and LaMarcus Aldridge all among those Grant and his staff had their eyes on. While Cleveland was not involved in any major deals on draft night it appears the Cavaliers front office is merely getting started with their offseason work.

“We’re a pretty aggressive team, just look at our track record the last three years,” Grant commented to The Really Big Show.

Pierce has since been shipped off to Brooklyn, but both Marion and Aldridge could still be targets with Dallas wanting to shed the $9 million Marion is due next season and Aldridge wanting out of Portland.

The Cavs core of Irving, Waiters, Karasev, Bennett, Thompson, and Zeller are all 23 years of age or younger, leaving the team in desperate need of some additional veteran presence to go along side Andy Varejao.

“You want to give enough space for the young guys to play and grow…but at the same time you want to put enough experience and professional leadership around them” Grant explained.

With Dan Gilbert making it clear he wants the Cavs in the playoffs next April, Grant and his staff will have to leave no stone unturned in their continuing quest to upgrade an extremely young roster that won just 24 games last season while also leaving the door open to sign a max contract free agent in 2014.

[Related: The NBA Draft may be complete, but Chris Grant’s job is just getting started]

NBA News: Cavs to have $19 million in cap space this summer

ShamSports.com a website for basketball data and analysis is projecting the Cavs to have just over $19 million in cap space this summer. That number will more than likely grow if Mo Speights opts out of his deal that would have him earning just over $4.5 million in 2013-14.

Throughout the rebuild process, Chris Grant and his staff have tried to stay as flexible as possible, acquiring assets, and reducing the amount of salary committed to the long term.

The Cav’s salary cap picture looks as follows for the summer of 2013, this is with the inclusion of Speight’s contract and ShamSports.com’s projected cuts of CJ Miles and Chris Quinn..

Anderson Varejao: $9,036,364
Kyrie Irving: $5,607,240
Marreese Speights: $4,515,000
#1 pick: $4,436,900
Tristan Thompson: $4,062,000
Dion Waiters: $3,894,240
Alonzo Gee: $3,250,000
Tyler Zeller: $1,633,440
#19 pick: $1,223,200
Kevin Jones: $788,872
Roster charge: $490,180
Roster charge: $490,180

Total = $39,427,616 = $19,072,384 in cap room.

If Speights decides to opt out, that number will grow to above $23 million in free cap space.

The biggest names among unrestricted free agents include Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, Al JEfferson, and Manu Ginobili.

Paul, Howard, and Ginobili seem like unrealistic options for Chris Grant and his staff, while Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, and Al Jefferson  are all wildcards. The Cavs will have to make some moves to upgrade a roster that won just 24 games this past season, while still leaving open the option to pursue LeBron James in the summer of 2014.

[Related: The Cleveland Cavaliers should plan well for 2014 but not just LeBron James]

Banner Report: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

You may remember back in 2010 (you know the last time there was a complete overhaul in Berea) we wanted to give incoming President Mike Holmgren a hand evaluating the roster. We are nothing if not equal opportunity. The Browns have a completely new group in charge this year. Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner and Ray Horton take over a 5-11 team. They have plenty of important decisions to make about the roster between now and the 2013 NFL Draft. WFNY wants to offer our assistance with The Banner Position Reports. Previous reports:LB, QB, RB, DBs, DL

Not since the “The Season of Dreams” back in 2007 have the Browns had real playmakers catching the football. That year Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards each topped 1000 yards and 80 receptions before seeing their numbers drop off significantly in 2008. Then, the next three years the Browns’ pass catchers were led by Mo Massaquoi (34 rec, 624 yards), Ben Watson (68 rec, 763 yards), and Greg Little (61 rec, 709 yards). It became something to celebrate when a receiver caught a pass instead of the usual dump off to backs and tight ends. The Browns’ inability to get the ball out wide has been as much on the receiving corps as it has been on the revolving door of quarterbacks coming through Berea. It’s the old chicken or the egg conundrum. Have the struggles passing been the result of poor quarterback play, or lack of weapons catching the football? The short answer is yes. But in 2012 with Weeden throwing to Little and Gordon the Brownies started to show signs of a real passing attack. While far from a proficient one, there was now a passing attack to speak of.

[Read more...]

Banner Report: Defensive Backs

Banner Report ElevatedYou may remember back in 2010 (you know the last time there was a complete overhaul in Berea) we wanted to give incoming President Mike Holmgren a hand evaluating the roster. We are nothing if not equal opportunity. The Browns have a completely new group in charge this year. Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi, Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner and Ray Horton take over a 5-11 team. They have plenty of important decisions to make about the roster between now and the 2013 NFL Draft. WFNY wants to offer our assistance with The Banner Position Reports. Previous reports: LB, QB, RB

In 2012, only 7 teams in the NFL allowed more passing yards than the Cleveland Browns. This came just one year after allowing just the 2nd fewest passing yards. So why the drastic change? A lot goes into raw passing yards allowed stats. It’s not just on the DBs, but it’s a combined effort between getting pressure on the QB, forcing opponents to be one dimensional in any way possible, and of course, defending opposing receivers.

The Browns have certainly been active the last couple years under Tom Heckert in trying to address the secondary, bringing in guys like Usama Young and Dimitri Patterson and drafting Buster Skrine, Trevin Wade, and Eric Hagg. The results have been somewhat mixed, but lets see if we can’t look a little more in depth at any potential issues with the Browns’ DBs. [Read more...]

NFL Rumor: Miami QB Matt Moore to test free agent market; Norv Turner a fan

Buried at the bottom of this Miami Herald piece is a tidbit that Browns fans may find interesting. Barry Jackson writes-

“Several Dolphins people, including Ryan Tannehill, have reached out to Matt Moore, hoping he will re-sign. Keep in mind that Cleveland offensive coordinator Norv Turner is a big fan of Moore, who will test free agency to see if there’s a starting job available in a situation that’s appealing to him. But he hasn’t ruled out coming back to Miami. Kyle Orton earns – on average – $3.5 million per year to back up Tony Romo in Dallas, so quality backup quarterbacks like Moore aren’t cheap.”

Reportedly, Norv Turner wanted the Chargers to sign Moore in San Diego as a back-up to Philip Rivers, but Moore opted to re-sign with Miami in order to compete for the starting spot.

Moore has appeared in 45 games over the course of his five year career. He is 13-12 in his 25 starts with 33 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. At 28 years old, he is younger than Brandon Weeden.

[Related: NFL Rumor: Weeden could be traded]

Nick Swisher: A Risk Worth Taking

There are plenty of reasons to be bearish on the Nick Swisher signing that locks him in for at least four years and $56 million, and I think some of the unbridled enthusiasm1 out there might need a wee-bit of tempering before we get too far ahead of ourselves.

For one, he could get hurt.  Just because he has a track record of impeccable health—Swisher has played at least 148 games in every season since 2006—doesn’t mean that he’s immune to broken bones or pulled muscles or damaged knees.  Perhaps he’s just been lucky.  Perhaps he’s due.

There’s also the inherent performance decline associated with players in their middle 30s, especially corner guys whose primary skills comprise power and patience.  In other words, guys like Swisher do not tend to age gracefully, and we could end up with a $14 million per year part-time player in 2016 ala Travis Hafner. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. h/t Billy Mumfrey []

Fun with Numbers: Nick Swisher and Tristan Thompson

I’m calling on you WFNY readers: Starting in 2013, I’m hoping to roll out a consistent stats-related article for Cleveland sports on WFNY. But instead of just doing “Fun with Numbers” bit that was originally Rick’s idea, I need a catchy new name. In the past, I’ve done “The Boots” for Boot Ups and Boot Downs. But that’s not necessarily #math. So please, help me out with a new name — it could be Cleveland-y, related to a day of the week or anything. See ya next year with the winning name and a new logo.

I wanted to start today in continuing my Indians talk from yesterday. With the big Shin-Soo Choo trade done and Trevor Bauer now impacting Cleveland’s starting rotation future, what’s next? If you’ve been paying attention to all of the rumors of late, Chris Antonetti’s remaining winter plans have two final steps: 1) Sign Nick Swisher and 2) Sign a veteran free agent starter.

While the starter could be any guy such as Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum et al, Swisher is the clear target for a RF/DH position for the Tribe. Choo’s gone and Drew Stubbs is in, but another outfield role remains for the taking. With Josh Hamilton’s signing with the Angels, Swisher is one of the key offensive free agents remaining. But why exactly is Swisher so valuable? As expected, let’s go to the math. [Read more...]

Cavaliers will not be a player in free agency according to Tom Reed

On yesterday’s Bull and Fox show, the Plain Dealer’s Tom Reed said that the Cavaliers will NOT be players in free agency this summer.

“No, not at all. The only types of guys that they will bring in here, is if they feel that their leadership may be lacking, maybe they bring in kind of a smaller name type player. They will not put any significant money into free agency. When they do that it will be more like a final piece… they are not going to overpay anybody.”

The Cavaliers have just under $18 million coming off the books with the expiration of Jamison and Parker’s contracts. They could also save $4.72 million if they choose not to pick up Daniel Gibson’s option. Small forward Alonzo Gee will also be a restricted free agent.

[Related: Antawn's Closing Advance]

NFL free agency is far from over for the Browns

I know how stressful it can be to watch big names fall off the boards with the Browns being so quiet. (Apologies to Frostee Rucker.) I’ve gotten caught up at various times during the past two weeks trying to balance between my desire to see the Browns get better and not get held up by some player agent for way too much money. I’ll admit that I sometimes want to crack jokes on this team too and I’m one of the ones who has already willingly admitted that the Browns won’t be challenging for the playoffs this year and will have a very difficult time winning more than six games this season. And six, by the way, includes a much healthier roster than what the Browns had a year ago. The point though is that the Browns can still get better via free agency. The top of the list is pretty picked clean, but the process is really just getting started.

I was reading The OBR and saw a post referencing an article from CBS Sports that had an interesting take on the numbers of free agents vs. roster sizes. [Read more...]

Guessing what the Browns’ moves mean… so far

These are allegedly tea leaves

Even without a ton of movement in free agency, I think we’ve seen and heard enough to start at least making some educated guesses about what the Browns are thinking and doing. Please save me the cheap jokes about them doing “nothing” in the comments.

Defensive line – Regardless of what you think about Frostee Rucker or Juqua Parker, their signings say a few things. First of all, the Browns probably won’t spend one of their high draft picks on a defensive end. It seemed like even the best defensive linemen in the draft were reaches at #4 anyway, so this is good news. The Browns have Sheard, Taylor, Rubin, Rucker, Parker and holdovers like Marcus Benard, Scott Paxson, Brian Sanford, Brian Schaefering, Emmanuel Stephens and Jayme Mitchell. Hold on there, Jayme Mitchell.

Will Burge from ESPN Cleveland reported on the first day of free agency that Mitchell’s people were trying to contact the Browns, presumably to figure out his future. My guess is they were trying to secure his release. Regardless, the Browns will probably draft a defensive end somewhere in the draft, but it won’t be all that high, considering their signings. [Read more...]

Report: Former Brown Kamerion Wimbley could be cut

According to a report by NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora, the Raiders will cut LB Kamerion Wimbley if he doesn’t agree to restructure his contract. A contract he signed before last season.

Wimbley is due to make $11 million this season, with $6.5 million guaranteed, and Oakland is trying to restructure its budget and get under the salary cap. Wimbley also has triggers in his deal that execute $19 million in future guarantees if he’s not released before the start of the league year.

The Raiders still value Wimbley, but are in desperate need of clearing some cap space. Wimbley had 7 sacks last season, and 9 in his first year as a Raider. He has started all 32 games since being traded to Oakland.

Grossi Predictions: Peyton Hillis and Phil Dawson Leave Cleveland

In his Sunday column, Cleveland Browns beat writer Tony Grossi discussed the potential of select restricted free agents returning to the team for the 2012 season. While Grossi does feel that the team will have linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and cornerback Dimitri Patterson back in uniform, two of the more disheartening predictions come in the form of running back Peyton Hillis and place kicker and team captain Phil Dawson, whom are both thought to be playing for another franchise come next season.

Dawson is the longest tenured member of the Cleveland Browns being the only man to have been with the team when it returned to the city in 1999.  A franchise tag would cost the Browns approximately $4 million which is a considerable price for a place kicker regardless of the percentage of scoring he contributed this past season. Also, Grossi states that Dawson recently turned 37 years of age and has relocated his family to Austin, Texas — a “strong indication ” that  he would like to leave in free agency.

Hillis has has had one of the worst up-and-down campaigns in recent memory after being named to the cover of Madden 12 to only deal with a variety of injuries and miss considerable time.  Despite his finish to the 2011 season, Grossi feels that the two sides still remain at an impasse over how much the player should be guaranteed in his next contract.

MLB Rumors: The Tribe’s Ongoing Search for a Right-handed Bat

I’m back with your weekly “search for the right-handed bat” update.

As we stand on December 14th, the Indians are still on the hunt. Names keep getting bandied about, but nothing as of yet has happened. Last week’s Winter Meetings spawned conversations, including the now infamous Chris Antonetti “if I gave you 50 chances, you wouldn’t guess” quote in regards to who the Indians are going after. In the past two days, two names were crossed off the Tribe’s wish list; Third Baseman Aramis Ramirez and Outfielder Josh Willingham.

[Read more...]

Cleveland Browns’ Run Defense Officially Indefensible

Following Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Cleveland Browns rank 31st among all NFL teams when it comes to stopping the opposing team’s running back. Allowing a robust 151.3 yards per game, the Browns are essentially allowing their opponents to leave half of their playbook at home.  The quarterback hands the ball to their running back of choice – a starter or workhorse is nary a requisite – and the offensive line is tasked with out-toughing the Cleveland Browns front seven, allowing the ball-carrying back to run rampant.

Only the winless and hapless Indianapolis Colts, long known for their ineptness in the trenches, have been run against more (419 attempts) than the Cleveland Browns (409).  The Colts boast a pair of veteran defensive ends whose game is predicated upon speed and getting to the opposing quarterback. The other five individuals boast very little in terms of name recognition or size; the Browns had their most successful running game of the season in their Week 2 win with a then healthy Peyton Hillis.  Where the Colts can choose to either continue focusing on speed and pass-rushing or to start the process of filtering in size to replace veterans, the Browns find themselves in a seemingly endless pitch of quicksand. [Read more...]

NFL Free Agency: Browns Add Punter Richmond McGee and Some Familiar Faces

Your Cleveland Football Browns were quick to replace injured Reggie Hodges by agreeing to terms with punter Richmond McGee late Wednesday afternoon.

McGee will join fellow footballers defensive back Dimitri Patterson and linebackers Archie Donald and Eric Gordon as the new kids on the Orange and Brown block in Berea. Donald and Gordon are of the undrafted free agent variety, but all four players are – like the attempted Brodrick Bunkley trade – of familiarity with the current Browns front office and coaching staff.

Patterson has been in the league since 2005, but has spent the last two seasons with (wait for it…) the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2010, he started nine of the 16 games in which he appeared and registered career-highs in tackles (62) and interceptions (four), while also recording his first career sack. Also an undrafted free agent in his own time, McGee was picked up by the Eagles in 2008. He most recently spent time with the Chicago Bears, however, where he was waived just three days ago. For good measure, McGee was the punter on the 2005 Texas Longhorns team; current Browns quarterback Colt McCoy was a redshirt freshman that very year.

[Read more...]

NFL Free Agency: Eric Wright Lands in Detroit

What started off as a promising, young career took a turn for the worst last season and now cornerback Eric Wright will attempt to make amends. With the Detroit Lions.

The physical and athletically-gifted Wright agreed to a one-year deal with the NFC North Lions early Friday morning. The signing comes shortly after Wright was granted unrestricted free agency following the newly designed NFL collective bargaining agreement. The Browns had attempted to tender Wright heading into the lockout, but the four-year veteran was one of the many players to enter the free agent pool once the lockout was lifted.

[Read more...]

NFL Free Agency: Who Should the Browns Bring Back?

As there appears to be a light at the end of the NFL lockout tunnel, the Cleveland Browns will be one of 32 teams forced to hit the ground running in the proposed altered schedule of league affairs.

Assuming all goes as planned, the Browns will have a three-day window (starting next Monday) to exclusively deal with their own free agents. Rife with gaping holes in many positions – specifically those considered “skill” – the Browns newly constructed team of coaches will join forces with the year-old front office regime to see just who will be back in the Orange and Brown once the curtain is lifted.

Rick has already laid out what should be the first priority for all things contract, but with the obvious aside, who among the current crop of Browns free agents should be given another run with the rebuilding franchise? [Read more...]

Free Agency Not Likely To Offer Much for the Cavaliers

The NBA lockout is coming. Everyone knows it, and there isn’t any momentum that suggests there is any way to stop before it comes. This is the reality that all NBA general managers must deal with. Until there is resolution to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, there will be no free agency in the NBA.

But that doesn’t stop the GMs from thinking about free agency. It doesn’t stop me from thinking about it, either. Ever since Cleveland Cavaliers GM Chris Grant offered up the information that the Cavs were looking at free agency as a way to bolster the roster rather than use the 2nd round of the draft, I’ve been thinking about who he could possibly have in mind. [Read more...]