April 24, 2014

What’s next for the Browns?

Taylor3According to the NFL Players’ union, as of Tuesday morning the Cleveland Browns are still sitting on $31,828,788.00 worth of cap space for the 2014 season.

The Browns entered free agency with around $45 million. They have signed free agents Donte Whitner (S), Karlos Dansby (ILB), Ben Tate (RB), Jim Dray (TE), Andrew Hawkins (WR), Isaiah Trufant (CB) and Paul McQuiston (OL). They re-signed kicker Billy Cundiff, and let go of QBs Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, as well as LB D’Qwell Jackson. Shawn Lauvao (G), Oniel Cousins (G) and T.J. Ward (S) left through free agency.

The big question mark remains Alex Mack, though it would seem that the team most interested in obtaining Mack is now out of that market. Baltimore traded for center Jeremy Zuttah from Tampa Bay.

The Browns of course have the right to match any offer that Mack gets, but teams have been hesitant to try and pry the transition tagged player away from the Browns.

On Tuesday, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam met with reporters from the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando. He told the gathered throng that he believes Mack wants to be a Brown. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen. What seems very likely is that the Browns will be willing to match nearly any offer handed to to the Pro Bowl center. Haslam himself said that Mack is the kind of player that they want around long term.

The Mack situation aside, what is the next move for this organization? [Read more...]

Ray Farmer says the Cleveland Browns are not trading Joe Haden

Haden2It really is the silly season. I had no idea that the Browns would have to make such a ludicrous statement today until they did. Alas, Ray Farmer has told the beat reporters that the Browns will not be trading Joe Haden.

This is apparently in response to a tweet that Joe Haden sent last night simply said, “it’s a crazy business.” That was all that needed to be said, I guess. The rumors started flying and people’s imaginations must have gotten away from them. Then, a fake twitter account for Mary Kay Cabot tweeted that Haden had been traded for DeSean Jackson. Yes, there’s a fake twitter account for Mary Kay.

Regardless, rest easy Browns fans. Joe Haden is not being traded.

At least not yet.

[Also see: Pic: Do you want a Cleveland Browns wedding cake?]

(WFNY Photo by Candice Vlcek)

 

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has “invitation” to visit Browns

In a long post about the cornerback market, specifically Darrelle Revis, there is a little nugget for Browns fans and the possibility of landing corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Namely, the post says he’s been extended an invitation.

He is in New York talking to the Jets and Giants this weekend and has an invitation to visit the Cleveland Browns. Two of these potential suitors are exciting.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan likes to play Revis-style man press coverage and sees DRC as a Rodgers Island, if you will. If he goes to Cleveland, he plays opposite cornerback Joe Haden, and the Browns become a team to take seriously.

DRC isn’t Revis or Aquib Talib, but he should be a welcome addition to the Browns defensive backfield opposite Joe Haden. That said, he wouldn’t come cheap. Rodgers-Cromartie is a talented 27-year-old, but based on the deal he turned down in Denver, it appears that it will take more than $10 million in guaranteed money to get him to sign on the dotted line. A team might not have to commit to a bunch of years, but it appears that in the short run, it better be somewhere in that ballpark. Does that mean $15 over two years? Does it mean $18 million? I have no idea, but that’s what DRC is gunning for, I think.

The Browns should be able to afford something like that, even after signing guys like Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, but it might not be what they want to do. The team has some young corners in Buster Skrine and Leon McFadden as well as 10 draft picks. Meanwhile they also presumably want to put a rich extension in the hot hands of Joe Haden. You have to wonder if that extension becomes more difficult to write for the player and team if they hand out mercenary money to a hired gun – DRC – on the heels of the Darrelle Revis signing in New England and the Aquib Talib signing in Denver.

Maybe the Browns invitation is more of a bargain hunt and, if they can’t get it done, they’ll set their sights on using some draft resources to make their move at corner. Regardless, this is a place that I don’t think the Browns should hold pat. The team was fortunate to get away with not doing more at corner during the 2013 season, but “fortunate” is a tough word to swallow following four wins.

Talib’s contract with Denver raises bar for Haden extension in Cleveland

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As the Denver Broncos back up the truck in attempt to topple Father Time, they decided to use the first day of the 2014 NFL free agency window to dump a ton of money into their defensive backfield. While they added TJ Ward, prying the hard-hitting safety from the claws of Browns fans, the deal that may ultimately impact Cleveland more is the six-year, $57 million contract given to cornerback Aqib Talib, $26 million of which is guaranteed.

When he’s not getting abused by Josh Gordon, Talib has turned a career of off-field issues into one that features him as one of the better press-coverage cornerbacks in football. For his efforts, Talib was seeking a deal worth between $9-10 million per season—and he got just that.

Earlier this offseason, WFNY estimated that Haden would draw somewhere in that $10 million range, placing him above other recently signed cornerbacks like Dallas’ Brandon Carr and Kansas City’s Brandon Flowers. Sportrac’s recent forecast pegged Haden as drawing a four-year, $35 million deal which, following Tuesday afternoon, could (rightfully) be laughed out of the room save for any sort of hometown discount.

Talib, the new benchmark for cornerback contracts, finished 2013 as Pro Football Focus’ 58th-best back, largely a product of his run defense and penchant to not draw penalty flags. Joe Haden finished 18th, one season after finishing in the top 20.

[Related: NFL Free Agency Notebook: First Impressions]

Image: Candice Vlcek/WFNY

Pic: Haden, Gordon and Sheard welcome Dansby and Whitner to team in style

It surely didn’t take long for two of the Browns’ latest additions to become welcomed members of the team.

Continuing on with his offseason of jet-setting, cornerback Joe Haden was joined by teammates Jabaal Sheard and Josh Gordon as the three players played G6 host to Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner—the fomer donning a Browns ski cap. Given Gordon’s subsequent cloud-cutting Instagram post, it appears that the five men are heading to Miami for a little sun. Given the six-to-eight inches of snow expected to hit Cleveland on Wednesday, who can blame them?

Let Free Agency Commence!

What do the Browns have cooking today?

What do the Browns have cooking today?

I have no idea what the Browns will do with free agency this year, but I have some clear ideas about what I think they should and shouldn’t do. Despite the massive amount of money and the ever growing list of players available, I still think it’s a bad idea to build a team too much through free agency. This Browns team, despite their struggles of a year ago, is still a relatively young team and improving from a player experience level standpoint. My biggest preferences are for overpaying for continuity and continuing the Banner trend of grabbing guys in their 20′s as opposed to their 30′s.

So let’s start by going through some of the rumored players linked to the Browns. [Read more...]

Browns current cap space estimated to be $50.4 million

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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)

How much money might Joe Haden make with Browns extension?

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The Browns want to lock up one of the best corners in the game. The question, as always: How much will it take?

How much money will Joe Haden make with a new Cleveland Browns contract extension? The easy, lazy, and most obvious answer: a lot. Joe Haden, when it’s all said and done, is going to make a ton of cash. That doesn’t really answer the question though. This is the NFL and contracts are confusing to say the least. Haden is a top-tier talent that’s still coming into his own and he’s only going to be 25 years old when the upcoming NFL season begins. How can you even begin to figure out what he’s worth? I’m not sure just yet, but let’s look at some examples.

[Read more...]

Browns and Joe Haden working on “long-term deal” per report

The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports this morning that the Browns are working to sign Pro-Bowl cornerback Joe Haden to a long-term contract. Haden’s current deal, which is set to pay him $6,678,193, would make him a free agent following the 2014 season.

Signing Haden before free agency begins would be a great look for the new, “streamlined” front office. On Tuesday, in response to the shakeup in the front office, Haden took to twitter to say that he was only in the business of covering receivers and that he would be “staying in his lane.”

Breer also mentions that there is still a chance that the Browns use the franchise tag on either center Alex Mack or safety TJ Ward, both of whom are coming off of Pro Bowl seasons.

[Related: For better or worse, this is Jimmy Haslam's team]

 

Joe Haden “upgrades” to 2014 Lamborghini

Because who doesn’t need to upgrade their Lamborghini?

While in Miami with teammates Josh Gordon and Greg little (along with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick), Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden treated himself to a brand new 2014 Lamborghini Aventador.

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Pushing out an economical 720 horsepower, Haden’s new ride will set him back roughly $400,000, or roughly $200,000 less than one of his impending 2014 game checks.

As Haden points out in his Instagram post, it’s only right that it’s Browns orange. Haden’s other Lamborghini is a white Murcielago.

Browns fan politely declines Joe Haden’s offer of Super Bowl tickets

Cleveland Browns Pro-Bowl CB Joe Haden is a fan favorite for sure, and it’s not very hard to figure out why. Since day 1 of his arrival in Cleveland he has embraced and city, the fans, the team, and the culture of the area. He also does things like this:

Haden’s caption on the photo reads:

This is how you know Cleveland browns fans are SERIOUS!!! I called and offered Rhett Super Bowl tickets and a first class flight and he politely declined.#bleedOrangeandBrown

Overall, this is just a pretty cool story. A nice move by Haden to offer the tickets and flight, and you have to appreciate the unwavering loyalty of a fan who has the guts (or maybe stupidity, depending on your point of view) to turn them down to wait for his beloved Browns to be there. He may be waiting for quite some time, but if the Browns should happen to make it in his lifetime, it will certainly be all the more sweet.

EDIT: For those wondering who the fan is, Rhett Wennes is the Browns fan responsible for many of the end zone signs you see, including the infamous TO sign that Eagles WR Terrell Owens once ripped down and the Edwards Butterfingers sign.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Talking Browns and Offensive Coordinators]

My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Joe Haden

Cleveland Browns v Miami Dolphins

Joe Haden’s growth both on and off of the field are worthy of recognition.
Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by an WFNY writer.
[Read more...]

Josh Gordon and Joe Thomas headline Browns players receiving NFL All-Pro honors

Joe ThomasThe Cleveland Browns had five Pro Bowlers nominated to make the trip to Hawaii, but that wasn’t official enough for some people who discount that honor due to fan voting. Now, the AP has selected their best players of the year using a ballot of 50 voters. The Cleveland Browns were once again well-represented.

Josh Gordon and Joe Thomas made the first team while Alex Mack, Joe Haden and T.J. Ward made the second team.

Thomas and Jason Peters were selected at tackle as Tyron Smith and Joe Staley were named second teamers. For Browns fans, Thomas’ play has been so good for so long, that this year probably felt like a down year for us. Not so for the AP voters.

At receiver, Josh Gordon shares first-team honors with Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. Those two are backed up by some impressive guys in A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas and Antonio Brown.

NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wasn’t as impressed with Josh Gordon.

Gordon led the league in receiving, but is he really the second best receiver in the league? No one would take him as a complete player compared to Gordon. I’d take Brown over Gordon this year too. This was a fantasy football pick.

Haden was beat out by Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson at the cornerback slot for the first team while Mack was beat out by Ryan Kalil at offensive line, and Ward was edged by Earl Thomas and Eric Berry at safety.

All in all a good year for the Browns in terms of recognition, especially considering the way their record turned out. Of course, the prevailing question among Browns fans is if Mack and Ward will be back to try and follow up these seasons as members of the Cleveland Browns.

[Also see: Video: Josh Gordon’s 2013 highlights are fun to watch]

(Image via Rick Grayshock/WFNY)

Cleveland Browns vs Pittsburgh Steelers Week 17 Open Thread

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The Browns season mercifully ends today. A lot of key players are missing, including Joe Haden. The Steelers are 7-8 and still have an outside chance at the AFC’s second wild card with a win and help. The Browns are 1-9 in their last 10. This afternoon’s game should go over quite well!

Join us here in the comments for some Week 17 NFL action. We can always talk quarterbacks too, if that’s more of your style. Oh and Rob Chudzinski’s job might be in jeopardy. Fun times in Cleveland!

NFL News: Joe Haden, four other key players inactive for Browns finale

All-Pro cornerback Joe Haden is among five key contributors that will be inactive for the Browns regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers today.

The 24-year-old Haden will miss the game because of a hip pointer that has bugged him over the last week. Rookie Leon McFadden will make his first career start in Haden’s absence.

In addition, both Phil Taylor (concussion) and John Hughes (knee) on the defensive line are out. Ishmaa’ily Kitchen and Billy Winn will get the starts there.

On the offensive side, guards Jason Pinkston (concussion) and Shawn Lauvao (thigh) will not play. John Greco will switch over to right guard and start, while rookie Garrett Gilkey will make his first career start at left guard.

Tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) is active and expected to start.

With all of these injuries, the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is lined up for a field day at home. Receiver Antonio Brown ranks third in the NFL in receiving yards and already was a matchup nightmare. Without Haden, the Steelers could pass all over the Browns, who also are missing one of their most disruptive forces on the line. It could be a long end to the season.

[Related: NFL Draft 2014: Quick thoughts on QBs before Browns finale]

NFL News: Five Browns players named to Pro Bowl

Five Cleveland Browns players were named to the Pro Bowl on Friday, the most in the AFC North this season.

Wide receiver Josh Gordon, tight end Jordan Cameron, tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack and cornerback Joe Haden are all on their way to Hawaii. It’s the most Pro Bowl players for the Browns since receiving six nods in 2007, their last winning season.

It is the first Pro Bowl for Gordon, Cameron and Haden. Gordon currently leads all NFL receivers with 1,564 yards this season. He’s expected to become the first Cleveland Brown to lead the league in receiving since 1949. Cameron is the team’s first tight end to make the Pro Bowl since Kellen Winslow in 2008. Haden is regarded as one of the game’s top corners, but it’s surprisingly his first Pro Bowl in his fourth season.

Thomas is a Hawaii veteran, as this will be his ninth straight Pro Bowl game. He’s made the annual All-Star affair every season of his career. It’s the second trip for Mack, whose Browns future is up in the air after Week 17. John Morrow and Tom DeLeone are the only two other Browns centers to make multiple Pro Bowls.

Safety T.J. Ward also was named as an alternate for the roster. He had a campaign commercial for the Pro Bowl earlier in the year. Baltimore has four honorees while Cincinnati and Pittsburgh each have two. Denver, Carolina and New Orleans each had five as well, while San Francisco, Seattle and Kansas City had the most selections.

As announced previously, the Pro Bowl will have a fantasy draft-style selection process this year. The rosters are not composed by AFC and NFC. Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick their teams on Jan. 22.

[Related: Will Browns be motivated enough to dash Steelers playoff hopes?]

Browns extend losing streak to six with 24-13 loss to Jets

Check out the Steelers fan trolling the Browns on the road

Check out the Steelers fan trolling the Browns on the road

The Browns still have not won a game since their bye week. They are 4-11 after losing 24-13 to the Jets on Sunday. There’s really not much to say about the particulars of this one. It was just bad to watch all the way around. The Browns failed to score touchdowns with drops and a penalty that nullified a rushing TD. The Browns were gifted an extended trip to the red zone in the first half when the refs called an inexplicable roughing the passer penalty. The Browns couldn’t score, even on 4th and goal from the two yard line. The defense was pretty pathetic too, giving up a 91.7 QB rating to Geno Smith in addition to over 200 yards rushing to the Jets as a team. U-G-L-Y.

Speaking of ugly, it’s not just the losing. This kind of game makes me long for the New England game, which was at least entertaining to watch. I have been impressed by the Browns’ willingness to take accountability and have complimented Joe Banner on that continually, but as this one gets uglier and uglier, I’m starting to wonder what that even means. Accountability for disappointment is alright if it looks like there’s something being built, but what if it doesn’t look that way anymore? [Read more...]

Jordan Cameron headlines Browns-Jets inactives for Week 16

Joe Haden will  in fact start against Geno Smith and the Jets after missing practice time this week with a hip injury. While Haden will be on the field, tight end Jordan Cameron headlines the Browns’ inactives. Cameron was ruled out on Friday due to the concussion he suffered in last week’s game against the Bears. Gary Barnidge will get the start today at tight end with MarQueis Gray expected to see more work than usual.

Joining Cameron among the Browns’ inactives are tight end Andre Smith, quarterback Alex Tanney, and offensive linemen John Greco, Reid Fragel and Martin Wallace.

The inactives for the Jets are OG Ben Ijalana, TE Chris Pantale, QB David Garrard, CB Ellis Lankster, LB Jermaine Cunningham, WR Mike Campbell, and OT Oday Aboushi.

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

NFL News: Browns’ Cameron ruled out for Sunday; Haden a “game-time” decision

Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16 against the New York Jets.

Cameron missed the entire week of practice after suffering a concussion last Sunday in a loss to the Chicago Bears. Gary Barnidge and MarQueis Gray will handle tight-end duties for Cleveland.

“I have to make sure I know what I’m doing and not cause any disruptions on offense and make sure I’m helping as much as I can,” Gray said earlier this week. “If I do so, then probably you’ll see a lot more of me next year. We’re going to miss [Cameron] tremendously, his playmaking ability. But fortunately, it’s my time now. I have to step up.”

Heading into this Sunday, Cameron has recorded a team-best 75 catches for 848 yards and seven touchdowns.

Joe Haden (hip pointer) will be a game-time decision for the Browns. Haden says that he will travel to New Jersey to face the Jets and “wants” to play, but the Browns will not determine his availability untl after his pre-game workout.

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

NFL News: Jordan Cameron in NFL’s concussion protocol; Haden day-to-day

On Wednesday Cleveland head coach Rob Chudzinski revealed that TE Jordan Cameron reported concussion symptoms on Monday and was entered into the NFL’s concussion protocol. He will not participate in practice. Given the history of these injuries, it is unlikely Cameron will be available this week against the Jets.

Cameron has caught 75 passes for 848 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

CB Joe Haden left Sunday’s game with a hip pointer. Haden will not practice on Wednesday. His status is listed as day-to-day.

RB Wills McGahee was cleared to practice. OL John Greco will also not be able to practice today.

[Related: Another bad fourth quarter quiets typically confident Browns defense]