August 26, 2014

Would Browns trade down to draft Derek Carr?

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I lust for the day when the Cleveland Browns draft rumors won’t involve first round quarterbacks. In order for that to be the case, the Browns will have to find one, probably in the first round. So, the only question is where in the first round? As the Browns are set to host Carr in Cleveland this week, Pro Football Talk suggests maybe Ray Farmer and the Browns could take a page out of the Ravens’ book.

They could trade down from No. 4 and draft Carr in the teens, like the Ravens did when acquiring Joe Flacco six years ago. This would give the Browns an extra pick or two as the latest new coaching staff tries to put together a team that fits the new schemes and systems.

One of my biggest complaints about the Browns — as I’ve stated time and again — is that under Mike Holmgren, they seemed to constantly lose the “poker game” aspects of the NFL draft. The Browns went and got guys they wanted, which is good, but they seemed to pay steep prices. I’m really hoping that the Browns stop losing the poker game under Ray Farmer.

Maybe that includes confidently trading down, gaining more assets and still getting a player they covet. Now, whether or not they should be coveting Derek Carr is another conversation…

[Related: "Growing sentiment" that Browns nab Carr at No. 4]

Photo: Cary Edmondson/USA Today Sports

Calling out the worst of all NFL draft clichés

2012 NFL Draft

Leading up to an NFL draft, there are a lot of hackneyed conversations that will drive a fan absolutely crazy. It seems that some fans want to rely on simplistic rules to simplify the NFL draft for themselves. It’s a coping mechanism to help deal with the fact that most fans have do not possess nearly enough information to truly decide what their team needs or how they should build for the future. It’s not an indictment of fans to not know, but it is an indictment for fans who pretend like they do.

Know what, exactly? It’s infuriating this time of year, but how many fans do you come across — at the bar, calling sports talk radio or on Twitter — who think of themselves as the only one qualified to run the war room of their favorite football team? Imagine every nugget of their “wisdom” being delivered with a confident, smug smile that says, “I just know I’m right.” Instead of looking at each team like a complex system that needs lots of different pieces, we get a lot of vague, simplistic misconceptions. And with that, here are my least favorite draft clichés.

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The Cleveland Browns begin beautiful bye by beating Ravens 24-18

Browns Celebrate TDIt’s going to be a fun bye week Browns fans. Your team beat a division rival. They beat them without a lot of gimmicks or tricks. Your team stood up and played to their capabilities and just flat out beat the Baltimore Ravens 24-18. Yes, this team has lost tons of players since last season, but they’re still the defending Super Bowl champs and your Browns beat them.

It wasn’t all cakes and pies. Browns fans got a peek at Brandon Weeden after Jason Campbell was the recipient of a pancake courtesy of Haloti Ngata. Ngata is the same player that had a lot to do with the gnashing of teeth over the Cleveland Browns trading with Pittsburgh on draft day this year, by the way. The last time the Browns traded in the division, they swapped picks with the Ravens so that they could take Ngata. The Browns took Kamerion Wimbley. But let’s not go down that road. Despite the momentary taste of Weeden, Jason Campbell came back to play and play well. [Read more...]

Week 2: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens open thread

brownsravensOver the last four seasons, no 0-2 team in the NFL has eventually made the playoffs. This afternoon, the Browns head off to Baltimore to see which AFC North team will fall to the basement of the division in the early part of the 2013 season.

The Ravens will be passing out their Super Bowl rings before the start of the game. The Browns will hope that the offense shows some signs of improvement under Brandon Weeden, as it displayed in the preseason, after a lackluster performance against the Miami Dolphins. Baltimore also was blown out by the Denver Broncos to start the NFL season 10 days ago.

Click below the jump for links to WFNY’s great Browns coverage from the past week. This is your week 2 open thread. [Read more...]

What do you make of the Ravens game? – Cleveland Browns Roundtable

WFNY_roundtable

Craig: So now that the negativity from week one has been exhausted, how does everyone feel about the Browns’ chances to bounce back against a Ravens team that got their faces pounded against Denver. Michael Oher is likely to be hobbled if not out. The Browns defense didn’t play horribly against Miami. The Ravens defense still has some pieces, but they are feeling the losses of Ray Lewis, Ellerbe and Ed Reed. Still, the Ravens are 6.5 point favorites last I heard. So how are you feeling?

Jacob: Not great. Ya know, TD’s buddy TA has been all over Twitter this week talking about bets and that 6.5-pt line. [Read more...]

Ranking the teams in the AFC North: Cleveland Browns Roundtable

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

WFNY_roundtable

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

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

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

Do the Browns have too much unused salary cap space in 2013?

Joe BannerAs the Browns head toward their first pre-season game and we wonder who is going to win starting jobs at cornerback and safety, it’s worth looking at the Browns’ unused salary cap space for a minute. This available space is one of the more controversial topics among Browns fans. In a league that is rife with parity, is unused cap space a sign that a team is content with not putting the absolute best team on the field? Is there something else at work that might make sense as to why the team is being so thrifty right now? While I think those questions are important, I think there are some logical answers.

According to the latest figures from spotrac.com the Browns have somewhere in the neighborhood of $29.24 million in cap space available right now. It’s something less than that as their latest information doesn’t appear to account for John Greco’s latest deal for five years $13.2 million with $3 million guaranteed. So assume the Browns have somewhere around $25 million in cap space, give or take. Here are some potential expenses that I think have left the Browns looking conservative for now. [Read more...]

NFL News: Joe Flacco, Ravens reach historic deal

Less than a month after winning the Super Bowl, the Baltimore Ravens have reached a historic deal to keep their sudden-star QB.

It was reported by various outlets Friday evening that the Ravens and 28-year-old Joe Flacco have reached a tentative agreement of a deal in excess of 6 years and $120 million. Such a contract would be the richest in NFL history. Jay Glazer of FOX Sports was the first reporter to initially scoop that a deal was in place.

Flacco was the 18th overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Delaware. He’s made the playoffs in all five of his seasons with the Ravens, winning at least one game each year. Over the past four seasons, his regular season numbers have been quite consistent: He’s averaged 60.7% completion, 87.6 QB rating, 3,666 yards, 22 TDs and 11 INTs.

He then took it up an extra notch in helping the Ravens sweep from the Wild Card round to the Vince Lombardi Trophy. In those four playoff games his stats were the following: 57.9% completion, 117.2 QB rating, 1,140 yards, 11 TDs and 0 INTs.

But after this historic playoff performance, he entered the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. Yet that only lasted for a fleeting moment as a deal many expected to happen — although likely not to this scale — was reached relatively quickly.

If Flacco had actually been out on the open market, it would only have been logical that the Cleveland Browns would be one of my suitors. The Browns’ second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden is slightly over a year older than Flacco, but obviously has quite a different NFL history of success.

[Related: How the Browns could win a Joe Flacco negotiation]

How the Browns could win a Joe Flacco negotiation

FlaccoThe world of NFL contracts is pretty tough to comprehend at times due to the fact that there are various bonuses and cap implications. Baseball, conversely, is pretty easy. There are contracts with dollar amounts and options, and other than options, pretty much everything else is guaranteed. The structures (and re-structures) of NFL contracts will sometimes make your head spin.

Agents tout deals worth eleventeen years and twelveteen million dollars in order to make themselves look good. Then when the details come out, the guaranteed money is significantly more reasonable and team-friendly. As the Browns are mentioned as having cap space to steal someone like Joe Flacco out of Baltimore, I thought it might be instructive to at least see what the numbers could look like. Make no mistake. This isn’t a post saying the Browns should make a play for Joe Flacco. It’s just hopefully pointing out how they could, if they had the opportunity and desire to do so.

First, let’s set the table with Mike Vick’s contract restructuring that was reported today.

That deal was once touted as a “$100 million deal!!!” Remember when many on Twitter claimed that the Eagles were really really stupid? It was actually $32.5 million guaranteed. The back end of that deal was so horrendous from a cap perspective that Vick was forced to restructure (give up all that $100 million in contract language) or face being cut outright. And don’t forget that there was a 2016 $20 million year that was never going to happen ever. Never ever. So Michael Vick “gave up” $15.5 million for 2013 in order to sign a deal that could be worth “up to” a reported $10 million. To me, that means it is likely decidedly less than $10 million. [Read more...]

NFL Rumor: Browns listed as prime candidate to steal Flacco from Ravens

The Cleveland Browns could conceivably roll into Year One of the Joe Banner experiment with Brandon Weeden at the helm. They could bring in a cagey veteran to give Weeden a bit of a challenge for the starting spot. They could also try to acquire a questionable cast-aside starter in San Francisco’s Alex Smith. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, however, things the Browns could realistically go with door number four: Baltimore Ravens’ impending free agent, Joe Flacco.

Was it only me listening to Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti and trusted GM Ozzie Newsome the other day, thinking they’re going to throw the first big changeup into this offseason? Was it only me taking their words and reading resolve in them, and thinking it’s actually possible that Joe Flacco could be stolen by a quarterback-needy and starved-for-relevance team like Cleveland?

Listening to Bisciotti and Newsome, you’d be a fool to think it’s not possible. Probable? No. But look at the tea leaves [...]

Cleveland was $48 million under the cap as of Friday. Signing Flacco would rob the Browns of the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft, plus their first-rounder next year. Because the Browns used their second-round pick on receiver Josh Gordon in the Supplemental Draft last year, they wouldn’t choose until 68th overall in April.

But think of the shot of adrenalin for the Browns, if they could rip away Flacco from a team they despise. What sweet irony for Cleveland, to steal the Super Bowl-winning quarterback from the team that stole their franchise. With new owner Jimmy Haslam and uber-aggressive president Joe Banner dying to make a splash to show their fans this won’t be the same old Browns, imagine Cleveland signing Flacco for five years and $110 million, making him the highest-paid player in history. And say Cleveland makes the 2013 salary $35 million. That way it’d be almost impossible for Baltimore to match; if the Ravens balked at $20 million per, you think they’d accede to $35 million in Year 1?

The salary numbers being used by King are the fuel for his speculation. If the Ravens were to lock Flacco up with the “exclusive rights” franchise tag, it would ensure that no team could swoop and in and pluck the Super Bowl MVP; the down side is that this would cost Baltimore $44 million over the next two years which represents a figure larger than the paychecks being earned by Drew Brees and Tom Brady. If the Ravens opted for the standard franchise tag, it would lower the financial burden, but “franchise” players can still talk to the other 31 NFL teams to work on a contract that would then compensate the tradee with multiple draft picks.

The Browns are owners of substantial salary cap flexibility while the Ravens, not inclduing Flacco’s impending deal, are already $5 million over the threshold.

[Related: Joe Banner and the assumed departure of Phil Dawson]

Shaky decisions haunt Browns as they lose and say hello to the bye

Jimmy Haslam didn’t like the penalty that overturned the Browns TD

It’s going to be a long couple of weeks Browns fans. Buckle up.

Pat Shurmur is his own worst enemy sometimes. With the game on the line and facing 4th and 2 from their own 28 yard line and he seemed to want to prove that he’s learned to be aggressive. Never mind that the previous controversial fourth down plays in question occurred at the Browns’ opponent 40-ish yard lines. Shurmur decided to roll the dice for once, and unfortunately for him it was absolutely the wrong call. The Browns ran one of the worst-looking plays of the game with Weeden air mailing Greg Little and the Browns basically handed the Ravens the ball in field goal range trailing by a single score 22-15. Of course the Ravens moved the ball a few feet and made it a two possession game 25-15. Of course they did. That’s the way the final score finished as the Browns lose by ten after leading by one 15-14 with 8:45 left in the game.

In the end, Pat Shurmur might try to take solace in the fact that the Browns had plenty of opportunities to beat the Ravens. He might even make some excuses because the Browns were certainly on the short end of a couple really bad penalty calls. An offensive pass interference on Josh Gordon, and a roughing the QB on T.J. Ward seemed particularly egregious and game-changing. Still, the Browns had the ball with 4:26 left and had a chance to punt with 3:50 and two timeouts on their own 28 trailing only one score and somehow came to the decision to go for it. The way the team “executed” the fourth down play, you probably don’t have to guess that the team was just as confused as the coaching staff that came with two feet down on their “jump to conclusions mat” with that conclusion. So the Browns head into the bye week dropping another game to the Ravens and showing a complete inability to capitalize on the good feelings they had off of an ugly win over San Diego. [Read more...]

Browns miss big opportunities, lose to Ravens 23-16

The Cleveland Browns certainly didn’t embarrass themselves (just like Josh Cribbs1 said) in losing 23-16 to the Ravens, but this team seems to be the absolute opposite of opportunistic. You have to give the Browns credit for having a plan on defense. They got gashed at times, but they kept Ray Rice under control and got some pressure on Joe Flacco. Offensively, you have to give them credit for running plays that gave them chances to stay close with one of the best teams in the league, but you have to win at some point. Too many field goals (three) and not enough touchdowns (one.) Staying close feels like something worth building on… for a while. But just being close could very well start to weigh heavier and heavier on this team until (or if) they finally make two or three more of those big plays and win a game.

I know people are going to want to kill Greg Little for dropping passes, specifically what would have been a touchdown to bring the Browns within three in the fourth quarter. It’s frustrating to watch for sure, and that wasn’t his only missed opportunity. Still, he made a huge catch on the team’s 94 yard touchdown drive. The same player who “killed the Browns” is the same one who gave them the one spark they needed to finally put some offense together. The passing game was totally out of sync and listless before that catch, for the most part.

I don’t have a conclusion other than he and the rest of the Browns’ offense need to get better and make those four to five extra plays that they’re leaving on the field. Greg Little has proven that he can make them. He just needs to do so consistently. That’s everyone’s story on offense right now.  [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Didn’t know exactly where to fit it into the story, but Josh Cribbs took one of the worst head shots I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t dirty at all. Just a freak angle taken by a defender on a punt return. Cribbs incredibly walked off the field under his own power, but obviously didn’t return. Here’s hoping there are no lasting injuries from that shot. []

Week 16: The Browns Will Win If…

It’s tough to remember that another football game actually took place between Colt McCoy’s concussion and this coming contest between the Browns and the Ravens, but it’s true: actual football has been played since James Harrison went all full-forced Zenedine Zidane on the Browns’ quarterback.

Seneca Wallace will be getting the nod once again, but his receiving corps is even further depleted due to an injury sustained by emerging slot option Jordan Norwood.  The Browns O-line crumbled at the worst possible time last week. Can they regroup and keep Wallace upright for the majority of a 60-minute slate? Let’s shake our magic Orange and Brown eight-ball.

The Browns Will Win If…

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Overmatched and Underwhelming Browns Lose to Ravens

The Cleveland Browns were beaten handily by Ray Rice and the Ravens 24-10, but that doesn’t tell the story.  The Ravens appeared to be trying very hard to keep the Browns in the game over the course of the first three quarters.  The Browns had plenty of opportunities, but they shot themselves in the foot continually.

Granted it was a wet day in Cleveland, but the Browns receivers were dropping the ball all throughout the first half.  Greg Little had a drop.  Ben Watson had a drop.  Evan Moore let one slip through his hands as he stumbled over his own feet in the end zone.  That drop right there takes a 10-7 game and forces it to a 10-3 game as team MVP Phil Dawson kicked a field goal.  (Yes, the snap by Ryan Pontbriand’s replacement Christian Yount was just fine.)  That was the day for the Browns. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Scott’s Honeymoon Over, Comparing McCoy and a Michigan Man

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Byron Scott draws some criticism- “It’s time to have a go at Scott, though. Not because of that record, but because he’s the latest to jump on the “our offense is fine, it’s the defense that needs work” bandwagon. You’ve seen it before, most notably from Scott Skiles and Larry Brown. A terrible offensive team that milks the clock and barely scores 90 a game most nights out will see its coach gloss over the terrible offense post or between games in order to pull the tough guy routine that the media just laps up — the idea that defense is of paramount concern.” [Dwyer/Ball Don't Lie] [Read more...]

Browns Lose Virtually to Ravens 80-7

The Browns lost this weekend to the Ravens 20-10 and it didn’t even seem that close, really.  I just found out how much worse it could have been.  How does 80 to 7 sound?  Ouch!

What would we do without technology?  Someone played a 2010 version of Super Tecmo Bowl with the Browns and Ravens.  They recorded the video game, added a Silverchair “Pure Massacre” soundtrack and then uploaded the video to Youtube.

This is why Al Gore invented the Internet, right?  If anyone wants to load up a Madden 2010 “Response video” I will be happy to edit it to include a sad Counting Crows song or something.  That will show those Ravens fans not to mess with us in the modern age.  The good news is that we can now definitively say there are losers bigger than the Browns and their fans after Sunday’s loss.

Video below in case you have 9 minutes to kill.

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Browns Limping to Finish With 20-10 Loss to Ravens

Maybe someday the Browns and Ravens will have a real rivalry. Today I was given a bit of hope for the future watching Joe Haden spar with Anquan Boldin after a particularly physical first five yards. This kind of animosity is supposed to come with divisional games for the players so that they can feel at least half as desperate to win these games as the fans. Someday it might pay off for the Browns to end their season against these tough divisional foes, but not today.  The Browns drop to 5-10 on the season with their 20-10 loss at home to the Ravens.

Colt McCoy had a very typical day for an NFL rookie quarterback, even if it is atypical from what we have seen from him so far this season.  He threw three interceptions.  Two of them were underthrown even if Mohamed Massaquoi did have a chance to bail his quarterback out.  McCoy will learn, but he probably should have known better than to throw two balls anywhere near an always-salivating Ed Reed. [Read more...]

Pre-Game Intel: Ravens vs. Browns

When and Where: Sunday December  26, 2010 – 1:00 PM – Cleveland Browns Stadium

Overview: The first time these two teams met, the Browns were just over 10 point underdogs.  The Browns aren’t exactly playing their best football of the season right now, but surprisingly the Browns are only 3.5 point underdogs right now.  At the time, I thought the spread was crazy because it was so high.  During that game the Browns trailed 14-10 at halftime and even had a 17-13 lead on a Seneca Wallace to Ben Watson touchdown to start the fourth quarter.  Of course the Ravens scored ten unanswered points to finish the Browns off 24-17.

The Ravens come in pretty hot.  They have won four out of their last five with the only loss coming to the Steelers.  Those same Steelers are the only ones ahead of the Ravens in the standings as we speak.  Right now the Ravens are on track for the final wildcard spot over the Jets due to tiebreaker advantage.  Of course that could all change in an instant if the Browns find a way to play spoiler.

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Week 3 Open Thread: Browns at Ravens

Still looking for its first win of the season, the Cleveland Browns travel to AFC North rival Baltimore for a 1 p.m. (CBS) contest. Two disappointing losses to Tampa Bay and Kansas City began the year as fans are now searching desperately for any signs of 2010. See whether the Browns or Ravens will be more aggressive after their recent setbacks.

Follow along with the game with us here at WFNY and check out some of our posts from earlier in the week on the game. “The Browns Will Win If…” is the essential post, but we also are now featuring Craig’s intel info and a staff podcast. Specific to this game, we had some harsh injury updates and some earlier comments from Ray Lewis about the Browns.

Pre-Game Intel: Browns vs. Ravens

When and Where: Sunday September  26, 2010 – 1:00 PM – M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore

Overview: Not sure how much overview I need to do here.  The Browns are anywhere between 10 and 11 point underdogs depending on where you look.  Obviously you have to think the Browns have a chance this week… against the spread.  Why?  This isn’t a gambling site or column, but let’s just say that 10 and higher is a really really high spread between two teams in the NFL.  In this case it might be crazy to think that it should be this high, but going into this season, I thought it would be crazy if the Browns came into week three without at least a 1-1 record, so shows what I know.

The Ravens come into this game off of a frustrating loss to the Bengals where the refs came under fire in the Baltimore locker room.  A tripping call on  Ray Lewis and a roughing the passer call were called out as questionable game changers by the Ravens.  After seeing them, I think the tripping call was pretty legit, but the roughing the passer call seemed excessive.  Still, a week after the Browns dealt with many of the same flags being thrown, it is hard to have much sympathy.

The Browns come in this week at 0-2 with fans falling right back into those same roles calling out players coaches and entire drafts after every single game.  It got so bad this week that I chose to write about a time when the Browns found a way to grasp a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Anyway, let’s get this over with. [Read more...]