July 25, 2014

NFL salary cap could jump to $160 million by 2016

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 9.31.31 AMLast week the NFL set the salary cap for 2014 at $133 million which was higher than many thought it would be. According to league sources in contact with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, it could be a trend that continues.

One source with knowledge of the process…  tells PFT that the cap could spike to $145 million in 2015 and a whopping $160 million in 2016.

While the Browns are still struggling to get out of the basement of the league and shouldn’t probably be working too hard to spend all their money to maintain the status quo on their roster, it’s still good news. The Browns have a ton of money available to them this year, and this just means they’ll have that much more going forward.

Even as the Browns haven’t been successful on the field yet, there are still some players that the Browns will want to take care of and presumably keep using that money. Jordan Cameron, Jabaal Sheard, and Phil Taylor will be free agents after the 2014 NFL season. Add Joe Haden to the list if the Browns don’t get his extension done earlier.

The following year could shape up to be a biggie too if Josh Gordon can keep his nose clean and continues to play at the Pro Bowl level he played in 2013. Oh yeah, and if the Browns win the lottery and Brian Hoyer proves he’s a legitimate NFL starter, his $1.25 million salary for 2014 won’t be good enough to bring him back in 2015.

This rise in the salary cap also means that the free agency pool is likely to get even less efficient as the same players who were fighting for a piece of $126 million now get to chase a piece of $133 million.

Browns have “no comment” on Lombardi’s Browns documents

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Is it a big deal that recently ousted Browns employee Michael Lombardi was seen at the NFL combine with documents emblazoned with Cleveland Browns logos? The answer is that none of us have any clue. It certainly seems less than ideal for the Browns, but whether or not it is an actual impropriety or not is impossible to know without finding out from the Cleveland Browns. The team, however has issued two separate “no comment” statements to ProFootballTalk and Mary Kay Cabot.

This could mean a couple things.

1. Maybe the Browns really aren’t sweating it. The team obviously didn’t feel the need to keep Lombardi out of work through the end of the draft, which you would think they could have done by simply paying him to stay home. Maybe they reserved no such rights in Lombardi’s contract, but it seems unlikely that Lombardi would have had leverage to exclude non-compete and non-piracy language from his contract negotiations with the Browns.

2. Maybe the Browns are embarrassed and just hoping this goes away. Who would let a year’s worth of scouting information go straight into the hands of another NFL team? The Browns seemingly just did.

3. Maybe the Browns are pursuing this issue with the league. We have no evidence of this and it is pure speculation, but maybe the Browns didn’t enjoy seeing their logo in the Pats loge at the combine and are seeking to have the situation addressed through channels that require them to not comment at the current time.

Mary Kay Cabot’s report also indicates that Ray Farmer isn’t concerned because the club “followed proper procedures” with Lombardi’s departure. Again, I’m unsure what this means. Does it mean that Lombardi’s exit was handled in such a way that he’s doing something wrong by having documents with Browns logos? Does it mean that it was handled in such a way that it’s cool that Lombardi have those documents?

We’ll find out eventually. Probably. Maybe.

For now, the Browns, unsurprisingly, have no comment.

Rob Chudzinski talks about Weeden, Desmond Bryant, and the Browns off-season

Rob Chudzinski went on Pro Football Talk’s “PFT Live” this week and had a few quotable quotes…

On the organization in place right now…

“From the short amount of time that I’ve been here with Jimmy Haslam, Joe Banner, Mike Lombardi and the rest of the people in the organization, it’s an exciting time. There’s definitely a feel in the air here, in the building. There’s a sense and a real feel of people working together and being on the same page and collectively working together for the same goal.”

 On the assumption around the league that it’s just a matter of time before Weeden is “supplanted.”

“Well, we’re going to go through our process. And looking at Brandon and the rest of the team coming in,  you know studying and looking and making an evaluation. That’s a small part of it. And you really can’t tell until you get out there on the field and get in meetings with guys and really get a chance to coach them. You’ve got to talk to them and see how they react to that and see what they can transfer from the meeting room to the field. And then go through the process of making mistakes and making corrections and then making improvements. That’s the real part I’m real excited about.

Just looking at Brandon on tape from last season you saw some skills that excite you and you saw progress. For a young quarterback particularly, when you see progress, that’s a good sign. So we’re all excited about getting not only Brandon, but Colt and Thaddeus Lewis as well and the rest of our team out here.”

What’s your philosophy going to be as a head coach in terms of being hands-on?

“I’m going to be involved in all phases. Obviously I have a background with Norv and have known him for a long time. He was a big part of shaping my philosophy as an offensive coach.  I have all the faith in the world in Norv. He’ll call the plays, but like all phases I’ll be part of that and the gameplans.”

 

On Desmond Bryant’s off the field struggles…

“You have to do the research on him. Going through a process of going into and looking into his background. Obviously one of our strength coaches had a chance to be around Desmond on a day-to-day basis. You know, we went through that process and feel like it’s not indicative of the type of person he is. He’s an outstanding person and he made a mistake. He’ll make amends for it and has made amends for it. We’ll move on.”

On playing 25% of your games against the Steelers and the Ravens…

“I expect, I mean obviously Baltimore just won the Super Bowl, both those organizations are outstanding organizations. They have outstanding people, coaches and players… it’s going to be a heck of a challenge. Then you throw Cincinnati in there and they’ve been to the playoffs the last two years. They’re adding pieces and playing pretty good football as well…”

On what he expects to see in 2013 in terms of turning the team around…

“I think what we need to see is progress in going towards our ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to win and our ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl.”

Chud finished this question talking more about getting guys on the field, installing systems and “focusing on the day.” Talked about getting better every day, “incrementally” and “building” and the “process.”

I know that will annoy a lot of fans who’ve had enough of the “process” and “building” but Chudzinski has a little more to work with. Even Florio couldn’t help but say that it’s time for the Browns to turn it around. It would be good for the sport that touts parity for a team like the Browns to be competitive more than twice every 14 years, at least according to Florio.

[Related: What the Browns should have said about Phil Dawson]

 

Heckert: Running back will be a “very big positive” this season

Tom Heckert saying that the running backs will be a positive in 2012 isn’t much of a statement considering that the Browns took Trent Richardson third overall. But that’s not all he was saying when he talked to Mike Florio on PFT Live.

I think it’s pretty safe to say we draft a guy third overall, he’s going to be the guy. But we do think we’re going to need extra backs. You know, last year going into the season we thought we’re in really good shape at running back with Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jackson, and Montario Hardesty and it turns out all three of them got nicked up. So, you know, we do think it’s a position where you better have a couple guys and, you know, we have obviously Brandon Jackson and Hardesty coming back both, so we think it’s going to be, from last year where it was probably a weak spot for us, we think it’s going to be a very, very big positive for us this year.

Of course it concerns me a bit to rely on both Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson even as backups to Trent Richardson this year considering they both were injured last season. I don’t think even the most positive fans are looking to usher in the Chris Ogbonnaya or Armond Smith eras of the Cleveland Browns.

Other than the backups, I’m quite excited. After hearing Trent Richardson on The Bull and Fox show yesterday I can’t wait to see the kid get going. He has a humble confidence in the way he talks about leaning on his experience while also looking to adapt to the new surroundings in the NFL. It has been a long time since the Browns had a guy with the potential to back up confident talk from an offensive standpoint. Maybe Kellen Winslow was the closest, and he couldn’t stay out of his own way with his off-field injury and talking a bit too much.

[Related: Getting to know your new Cleveland Browns: Brad Smelley]

Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show: “Richardson not a top 15 pick”

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio was on the Dan Patrick show Monday morning discussing several topics, including his thought that the Browns may end up swapping picks with the Vikings at #3 to insure they don’t get ‘leapfrogged’ for Ryan Tannehill. He also discussed the Browns/Rams RGIII situation.

At the end of his time on the show, he agreed with an assessment of RB Trent Richardson that said the Alabama RB is not a top 15 pick-

“You have to have a team that is willing to make him an every down back, and fewer and fewer teams are doing that with running backs nowadays. He also has to be a truly special talent, and I don’t know that Trent Richardson falls into that Adrian Peterson category.”

He added that there are a lot of running backs that can move the chains at the pro level if you can block for them.

Audio available here.

[Related: In support of Trent Richardson to the Browns]

Controversies Sell Better Than Corrections

Thanks to the quiet of the bye week in Browns town, the Peyton Hillis “story” was big news all week long.  It cluttered the airwaves at 92.3 WFAN and even Adam the Bull couldn’t help but say that teams should keep stuff like this “in house” but that he was glad they didn’t because it was good for his afternoon drive-time show with Dustin Fox.  You can certainly debate whether or not it was good for his show, but there is little doubt that it was all around a bad week for Browns fans as an unnecessary potential wedge was being driven between Browns fans and Peyton Hillis.  All of it began with a report from Adam Schefter about alleged “whispers in the Browns locker room.”

You may or may not believe me, but I honestly didn’t want to talk about any of the Peyton Hillis stuff.  I didn’t think it was much of a story.  We’ve been through this before with beloved players like Josh Cribbs.  We love Browns players, but we love the Cleveland Browns team even more.  When that team is seemingly at odds financially with a player, it is a sticky situation.  Everyone would be better off if we just acted like Tom Heckert and only discussed these things after deals are completed.  That’s obviously unrealistic, but now we’re finding out so were Adam Schefter’s reports. [Read more...]