April 23, 2014

Mack is back as Browns match Jaguars offer

So, you remember that whole Alex Mack contract situation? You see the Browns used the “transition tag” which means…

Oh never mind. I’m not going back through all this again. Alex Mack is back. He’ll be back for at least two years and probably three. He’ll be the highest paid center too at $42 million over five years. If you want to know any more, search our archives.

Draft Day, Hawk Harrelson, Alex Mack, Super Tall High School Kid and Mansions live at the Grog Shop… While We’re Waiting

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I set a Google Calendar reminder so that I wouldn’t forget to do WWW this week. Let’s hope that works from here on out. Now on with the WWW.

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I saw Draft Day last night, and here are my initial thoughts. Don’t worry. I will save you any and all spoilers. This isn’t a great achievement in cinema, but sports movies and summer popcorn flicks don’t have to be. This movie would be a full on failure if it was about any other topic but sports. Sports movies always have a special license and leeway because they’re about a topic that many of us are already pre-disposed to enjoy. Even still, Draft Day isn’t a great sports movie. It’s alright. Here in Cleveland because it’s about our team it’s like a B+. In the rest of the country where it’s not about other NFL fans’ teams it’s a C-.

There were a few jokes and light moments that mostly fell flat. Some of the quirky characters that were supposed to provide relief, really didn’t achieve it. I thought Denis Leary was probably the best part and even with my criticisms, every Browns fan should see it and will probably enjoy it. Come on. It’s about the NFL draft. That’s our annual Super Bowl, you know other than that real Super Bowl that other teams seem to compete for on occasion.

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Finally, we can talk about the Cleveland Indians and race and it has nothing to do with Chief Wahoo. As Deadspin pointed out in their post with video, White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson had some pretty interesting things to say about the Tribe’s reliever, C.C. Lee after he entered the game last night.

After Lee threw a “nasty slider,” Harrelson called it a “typical Asian motion” before tagging it with, “Deception involved.”

Can you imagine either the Indians’ radio or TV crews saying anything like that? Yes, Tom Hamilton was in the spotlight after a brush back pitch at Nick Swisher by Aroldis Chapman last year, but it’s hard to imagine just the same.

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Of course the talk of the day here in Cleveland will be Alex Mack. It might be too much talk for the topic. Andy Baskin has been quite level-headed on the topic on 92.3 the Fan. His sentiments have included that as soon as this reaches its conclusion nobody will talk about it anymore and he’s exactly right. NFL center is one of those positions that nobody knows anything about unless the guy is tossing the ball over his QB’s head all the time or committing penalties. Nearly nobody I know would know whether Alex Mack had a good season or not without the benefit of Pro Football Focus.

On top of all that, we need to remember what we don’t know. The Browns were all set to pay Mack just over $10 million for 2014 with the transition tag. The deal makes Alex Mack the league’s top paid center. That can be misleading though. There are so many different variables at play here. Most notably, the salary cap has grown and is expected to continue to grow. So, while $18 million is always going to be $18 million, it shrinks in impact on the team as the salary cap increases.

We’ll just have to wait and see whether the Browns decide to match the deal or not. Only they know via their longer range projections whether this is a good idea for them. Only they know their own confidence level in replacing Alex Mack if he were to depart. Even the most plugged in Browns fans with extensive cap knowledge can go so far as to say if it’s a “good” idea or not.

I think my preference would still be for the Browns to bring Mack back, but absent that extra layer of intel, that preference isn’t worth a whole lot. My preferences are also based on the fact that I have no idea whether John Greco can play center at a fraction of the price or not. I suspect the Browns have a better feeling for that matter, among others.

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It might not seem fair, but it makes for a heck of a YouTube highlight video. I bring you the 7’5″ tall high school player highlight mix tape including sweet croakies to hold on his glasses. He’s everything that State Farm wanted their stupid commercial to be with Chris Paul, except the guy with glasses is awkward and plays basketball.

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Last, but certainly not least, I’m really excited to go see Mansions again live next week. This time instead of road-tripping to Pittsburgh I get to see them play live and in the comfortable confines of the Grog Shop. They are opening up for La Dispute, who are also sure to be good. Still, I’m only in that door because of Mansions. Here’s my favorite song from their newest album Doom Loop. It’s a live version.

Have a really nice weekend everyone and stay tuned for a podcast with @sportsyelling that I’ll be recording soon!

Browns reportedly ready to match Mack’s offer “in no time at all”

Mack

Sad Alex.

Less than 24 hours after reporting that the Jacksonville Jaguars may have themselves a shiny new Pro Bowl center, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has hedged his bets with a report that the Cleveland Browns will match the Jags’ offer in “no time at all.”

Jacksonville’s offer was reportedly designed to make it as difficult as possible for the Browns to match. Also a factor is that Mack appears to desire any NFL city aside from Cleveland. But much to the center’s chagrin, Ray Farmer’s front office has the most cap space in the entire league and appears willing to use it in order to retain one of the game’s best centers. Per ESPNCleveland’s Tony Grossi, the team is well aware of Mack’s feelings, but is not about to set a precedent about disgruntled players getting to take their talents elsewhere. Not to mention: Mack is a stud.

FOX Sports’ Mike Garafolo reports Alex Mack’s five-year offer sheet with the Jaguars will make him the NFL’s highest paid center. Specific terms still haven’t been released, but Carolina’s Ryan Kalil is currently the NFL’s richest center, recently inking a six-year, $49 million contract. That deal contained $28 million guaranteed, including an $18 million signing bonus.

Joe Haden, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron (among others) are going to command a raise at some point, but the Browns appear willing to cross those bridges upon arrival. By all accounts, Mack is going to cost the Browns at least $18 million in guarantees over the next two seasons, making him the game’s highest-paid center. How the fans react to his off-season antics, however, may be a completely different story.

Photo: Candice Vlcek/WFNY

Do you want the Browns to lose for the draft? – WFNY Roundtable

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Craig: It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, not for TD who prefers March Madness, but I digress. The holidays are here and it’s a confusing time to be a Browns fan. In the middle of fan appreciation week, there are lots of fans out there who probably don’t want the Browns to defend their home field this last time they play on it against Chicago this weekend.

Personally, I always want my team to compete and try to win. The chips will fall where they fall in terms of the draft and it’s up to the talent evaluators to make the most of their picks wherever they happen to land. That’s just my opinion on it though. I do see the downside of winning late, meaningless games at the end of the season. [Read more...]

Where His Demons Hide

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If you have ever wondered what it would be like to watch a Clydesdale pull away from a Pomeranian, fast forward to roughly the 1:36 mark in the third quarter of Sunday’s contest between the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots. In a lumbering fashion that could seemingly be a result of adrenaline married with freakish, God-given measurables, Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon stumbled a bit out of the starting blocks, his body moving slightly faster than the legs which serve to propel. After roughly two or three steps, regaining composure, Gordon turned in to his right, corralling an absolute strike thrown from the hand of veteran quarterback Jason Campbell, taking in the oblong piece of inflated leather in stride. The man attempting to hinder Gordon on this day, New England’s Aqib Talib, also came equipped with top-end measurables which include a 40-yard dash time clocked south of 4.5 seconds, but also a mouth that moves faster. Unfortunately for Talib, despite a several-yard head start, the foot race between the two would be roughly twice the space encompassed by the NFL combine test, as Gordon would take the pass 80 yards in a approximately nine seconds—this all including the point in the foot race where Gordon would slow his gliding gallop down at the 10-yard line, Talib and teammate Devin McCourty (who is also a member of the 4.4 Second Club) well having become an afterthought, and begin to execute the early stages of what could best be described as a man turning on an oven, stirring a pot and then taking his shirt off and leaving it on a burning stove.

[Read more...]

Cleveland Browns Game 12: Winners and Losers

Who caught your eye? Did someone stand out? Who blew it? That’s what were interested in this morning. Winners and losers.

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WINNER: Josh Gordon. The silly argument last week about whether or not the Browns should have pulled Gordon to protect the single game franchise record for receiving yards looks even sillier now. Josh Gordon’s 95 yard catch and run for a touchdown was the exclamation mark on an incredible stretch. As he was crossing the goal line it occurred to me that he had just done the impossible, beating his own record set just a week earlier. Gordon has 498 yards in the last two games and 623 in the last three games, both figures are NFL records according to Elias Sports Bureau. [Read more...]

NFL News: Brandon Weeden diagnosed with concussion

Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden has been diagnosed with a concussion and is in the middle of the NFL’s usual protocol for treatment. He reported symptoms after the game, per a team spokesman, and thus did not speak to the media.

Weeden threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, yet had two interceptions and a lost fumble. Wide receiver Josh Gordon had a record-breaking game with his second straight 200-yard game.

Brian Hoyer is out for the season with a torn ACL. Jason Campbell is already out with a concussion, although coaches were optimistic about his progress throughout the week. Alex Tanney is the only other quarterback on roster after being signed from the Dallas practice squad earlier in the week.

The Browns play in New England next week.

[Related: Cleveland Browns embarrass themselves, lose to Jags at home 32-28]

NFL News: Josh Gordon first with back-to-back 200 yard games

With a 95-yard go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown, Josh Gordon became the first receiver in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard games. He now has 261 against Jacksonville after posting 237 against Pittsburgh last week.

Gordon now has 1,248 receiving yards in only 10 games this season, including seven touchdowns. Braylon Edwards holds the single-season franchise record with only 1,289 yards receiving.

The 22-year-old out of Baylor did all that today despite missing the third quarter with concussion-symptoms. He was seen on the sideline in the middle of the NFL’s standard protocol.

[Related: Browns Preview: Little to win, lots to lose with Jaguars matchup]

Campbell and Robertson headline Cleveland Browns’ inactives versus Jacksonville

Cleveland quarterback Jason Campbell is inactive for today’s game against the Jaguars while recovering from the head injury he suffered last week against the Steelers. The Browns will also be without starting inside linebacker Craig Robertson and his back-up Tank Carder.

Also out are OL Martin Wallace, Garrett Gilkey and Reid Fragel as well as DL Ishmaa’ily Kitchen.

Darius Eubanks will get the start at inside linebacker for the Browns.

[Related: Little to win, lots to lose against Jacksonville]

Browns Preview: Little to win, lots to lose with Jaguars matchup

brownsjagsThe Browns will understandably emphasize all week that they have to keep fighting for pride. But for fans, it’s tough to rally around a 4-7 team with little left to fight for in 2013.

This afternoon, those Browns – worthy of yet another Mike Polk video – face off at FirstEnergy Stadium against the depressing 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars. Yes, the same team that recently deserved a headline on Deadspin titled “The Historic Suck of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

For fans, a win today is expected. The team is seven-point favorites at home, despite Brandon Weeden again starting at quarterback. But a loss? That would be crushing and perhaps serve face that the team isn’t actually that much better off than they were a season ago.

Below are three keys to victory for the Browns to move back into the fringes of the AFC Wild Card race: [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Buckeyes BCS bonanza

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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The Buckeyes knew about that exact two-point conversion play: “As Ohio State fans shook with nervous energy, a calm came over the sideline. All week, the third-ranked Buckeyes had prepared for Michigan’s two-point conversion plays and, now, with the most important play of the season arriving, cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs told his players he knew what was coming. He alerted Tyvis Powell that the Wolverines were going to motion triple stack and Michigan wide receiver Bo Dever would run an angle route.” [Kyle Rowland/Eleven Warriors] [Read more...]

NFL News: Rookie Darius Eubanks to start at linebacker for Browns

Undrafted rookie free agent Darius Eubanks will start at linebacker for the Cleveland Browns on Sunday against Jacksonville in the wake of the team’s latest injury report on Friday.

In that report, the Browns announced that linebacker Tank Carder is out and the man he initially replaced, Craig Robertson, is doubtful for the contest. Carder has been nursing a strained shoulder suffered during Sunday’s Steelers game. Robertson has been dealing with a knee sprain issue for the last two weeks and missed last week’s game.

With the banged up linebackers, Eubanks will make the first start of his career. A 22-year-old out of Georgia Southern, he’s appeared in four games already for the Browns. He finished with four tackles in relief of Carder on Sunday.

Eubanks was signed off Minnesota’s practice squad late in the offseason. He then was promoted from the practice squad in late October and has been elevated all the way up to starting linebacker. Coach Rob Chudzinski and others have praised his preparation so far.

Other notes from the injury report: quarterback Jason Campbell is officially out, while defensive lineman Armonty Bryant and tight end MarQueis Gray are questionable.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: What happened to our OLBs?]

WFNY Stats & Info: Four facts for Browns-Jaguars on Sunday

The 4-7 Cleveland Browns host the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. With the Browns still possibly still being in the “playoff hunt” — as ESPN noted last night — the game still carries some importance. Here are some stats to get you prepared.

1. Cleveland quarterbacks and Jacksonville quarters both completed exactly 44.3% of their respective passes in opponent’s territory this season. For the Browns, they’ve completed 82-of-185 tosses, with consistent marks both in the red zone and in between the 49-21-yard-line. For the Jags, they are 77-of-157 overall, but have struggled mightily in the red zone to the tune of just 27.3%.

2. In the past six games, the Browns have allowed 171 points (28.5 per game). That’s the most in a six-game stretch since a similarly poor mid-season run in 2007. Yes, the defense isn’t necessarily all at fault, as they’re the only team in the NFL yet to allow a 275-yard passer or a 90-yard rusher. The offense also is largely responsible because of the stat below.

3. The Browns have committed exactly four turnovers in each of their last two losses. Teams with exactly four turnovers are 809-1,998-49 (.288) entering this week. Generally speaking, that’s not a very sustainable method for football success when you’re handing the ball back to the other team. On the year, seven of the Browns’ 13 interceptions have come on 1st-and-10 plays.

4. The Jaguars’ DVOA — Football Outsiders‘ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average rating — has improved of late to now being only -47.2%. Finally, that’s slightly better than the mark by the winless 2005 Detroit Lions at -48.4%. But they remain by far the worst team in the NFL. Cleveland ranks fifth-worst at -21.3%.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: What happened to our OLBs?]

Brandon Weeden: “For the next five weeks, I’m a Cleveland Brown”

“For the next five weeks, I’m a Cleveland Brown. After that, whatever happens is out of my control. I’m excited. This is one of the best teams I’ve ever been on as far as just the group of guys in this locker room, the atmosphere we have going on, the friendships we have and the camaraderie. It’s great. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it as long as I’m here, and then if they tell me to beat it, then we’ll see. Right now, my main focus is the Cleveland Browns and winning this Sunday.”

– On-again, off-again Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden, who will start again this week, said on Wednesday to The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot. Weeden also discussed how boos from fans bothers his teammates more than himself and he quit Twitter because “I don’t need 5-year-old kids telling me how to play the quarterback position.”

On the season, the 30-year-old from Oklahoma State is 117-for-227 (51.5%) for 1,361 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. Most troubling, he’s completed just 42% of passes in opponent’s territory, a troubling trend for the Browns offense. Cleveland takes on 2-9 Jacksonville on Sunday.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Film Room: What happened to our OLBs?]

NFL Rumor: Browns were interested in trade for Eugene Monroe

There had been murmurs earlier in the week of the Browns’ reported interest in Eugene Monroe, the left tackle just traded from Jacksonville to Baltimore. Now, we have the gory details, courtesy of CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora’s latest report:

The Jaguars dealt starting left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Ravens this week for fourth- and fifth-round picks, with Jacksonville assuming $2.35 million of Monroe’s salary and the Ravens paying $547,000. The Browns, hearing of the Ravens nearing a deal for Monroe, reached out to the Jaguars late, and asked of their interest in a player (believed to be receiver Greg Little or right tackle Mitchell Schwartz) , but were told the Jaguars had no interest in the player at that point that trade was essentially complete, sources said.

La Canfora said the trade talks were exclusively between the Jaguars and Ravens, much like the Browns and Colts discussion of the Trent Richardson deal. The Browns would have had the ability to absorb more of Monroe’s long-term deal and would also have been willing to throw in a second-day draft pick, if needed. But talks never occurred.

Overall, the meat of this report is this: the Browns “valued Monroe very highly as a long-term answer at right tackle” with Joe Thomas at left tackle. Considering the team’s interest in Monroe and Schwartz’s potential availability in such a deal, it appears that is unsurprising. Overall, the second-year pro has struggled so far this season.

Cleveland also was interested in Arizona left tackle Levi Brown, who later was traded to the AFC North and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Monroe, an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason, could perhaps reach a long-term deal with the Ravens, but no attempts have been made yet by the team.

[Related: Fun with Numbers: Browns stats as they improve to 3-2]

While We’re Waiting… Fantasy football in NFL stadiums?

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Would the Browns ever try out an area like this? Do they need to? “Inside EverBank Field, during the second half of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ lopsided loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, Carlos Boria finally found a reason to cheer. ‘Yeah, baby,’ he screamed as tight end Jimmy Graham scored a touchdown. But Graham is not a member of the Jaguars. He was playing for the Saints, about 500 miles away, at the Superdome in New Orleans. Boria’s cheer was part of the cacophony in the new 7,000-square-foot fantasy football lounge at the Jaguars’ stadium, where fans were primarily following not the game they had bought tickets to attend, but those in other N.F.L. cities involving players on their fantasy teams.” [Ken Belson/New York Times] [Read more...]

NFL News: Mohamed Massaquoi released by Jacksonville Jaguars

Mohamed Massaquoi was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars today. With that news the entire 2009 second round Browns class consisting of three players is out of the league.

Massaquoi might still get picked up, of course, but in his first season outside his rookie deal with the team that drafted him, Massaquoi couldn’t find his way into the mix with a team.

Back in April when signing with the Jaguars, MoMass hoped to get a new start. “I guess I just want to rewrite the script,” Massaquoi said. “I want to see where my game can go.”

Of course it’s with no glee that we report Massaquoi’s fate. As recently as a year ago, the hopes among Browns fans was that Mohamed Massaquoi could play a healthy season and prove to be the receiver that he always had the potential to be. After recording 17 receptions in nine games, it wasn’t nearly enough for the Browns to bring him back as they went and got Davone Bess during the draft.

Massaquoi joins fellow classmates Brian Robiskie and David Veikune as NFL players looking for work.

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

NFL Rumor: Unknown team has trade in place for Alex Smith

Combine news was all over Twitter during the daytime on Sunday, but then CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora just recently dropped this quarterback news-bomb on the world:

With Colin Kaepernick fully entrenched as San Francisco’s long-term starter, it’s certainly logical why Alex Smith’s name has been all over the rumor mill thus far this offseason. The former Utah Utes star who turns 29 years old in May was a solid yet unspectacular starter for the 49ers for the vast majority of time since being the No. 1 overall pick in 2005. But he has a lot of NFL experience and many teams might consider him a safer option than utilizing an early draft pick on a QB.

Previously today, we saw the reported rumors from NFL.com that the Kansas City Chiefs were indeed very interested in Smith — along with drafting OT Luke Joeckel with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Ian Rapoport wrote: “But word is starting to leak of their interest in the San Francisco 49ers’ backup quarterback. At this point, based on what I’m hearing, Kansas City has shown more interest than anyone else in dealing for a quarterback who could step in and start from Day 1 while the rest of the franchise is rebuilt.”

Also this week in Smith news, the 49ers publicly declared that they would be unlikely to release the quarterback outright. Head coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith would either be traded or remain with the team throughout the offseason, and only if no suitable trading partner was found, would then he potentially be released.

For now, the Browns are likely in the next tier of possible contenders for Smith’s long-term services. The Chiefs are probably the odds-on favorite for the team that La Canfora was referring to, with the Jaguars and Browns among several teams that also could be on the large overall list of teams with quarterback needs.

Update at 6:30 p.m. Sunday: Jaguars beat writer Ryan O’Halloran, who was just on his way back from Indianapolis and the combine, tweeted out this bit moments ago. He reports the Jags are not the team with this deal in place:

Update at 7:55 p.m. Sunday: Mary Kay Cabot has the latest on the Cleveland side of things. According to her source, the Browns are not this team.

[Related: NFL News: Chudzinski “excited” about Weeden, still needs to see more]

NFL News: Browns hire Jacksonville general counsel Sashi Brown

It doesn’t give a clear indication over who might be the team’s next GM, but the Browns announced yet another front office hire today. The great Jason La Canfora for CBS Sports has the news:

Sashi Brown, a lawyer by practice who graduated from Harvard Law School, had worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2005. According to the team website, he “advises the franchise in a variety of legal and business matters. His responsibilities include contract negotiation, employment matters, insurance and risk management, intellectual property and licensing issues and litigation management.”

This is the third high-profile, exclusively non-football hire announced by the team this offseason. The chain of command in the Browns front office now has owner Jimmy Haslam III at the top, followed by CEO Joe Banner. Former Dallas Cowboys general counsel Alec Scheiner is the team’s new president. Former San Diego Padres executive Brent Stehlik is the team’s new executive vice president and chief revenue officer.

Semi-related: The Browns official team website still has Mike Holmgren as the team president. And it’s not far-fetched to see some familiar names in the non-football, executive landscape to potentially be let go because of the presence of Brown, Scheiner and Stehlik.

[Related: On Optics and Perception]

NFL Draft: Browns currently picking 6th

According to the experts at NEPatriotsDraft.com after crunching all the numbers and considering the Browns’ season-ending loss to the Steelers, the Cleveland Browns will be picking 6th in this year’s NFL draft.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) .491
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) .541
3. Oakland Raiders (4-11) .470
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) .512
5. Detroit Lions (4-12) .569
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11) .506
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-10) .553
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10) .493
9. New York Jets (6-10) .516
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10) .538

Of course who the Browns take is still a huge mystery. Will the Browns still be running the 4-3 defense? Will they need a quarterback? Who is the best player available in that slot? Who will the general manager be?

[Related: Browns drop final game to Steelers and start off-season of change]