April 19, 2014

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.

Browns making a “strong push” for Julian Edelman

Brady Edelman Pats Browns

Having reportedly lost out on Andrew Hawkins to fill the role of slot receiver, the Cleveland Browns appear to be setting their focus on New England’s Julian Edelman.

Edelman, as you may recall, was one of the first wide receviers linked to the Browns upon the start of free agency. The team is in need of a possession receiver due to the roller coaster known as Davone Bess. Edelman is coming off a 105-catch season1, is a major asset in the punt return game and has a history with current Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Edelman, a Kent State product, recently turned down a three-year offer from the Patriots. What he would command in the open market from a lesser team remains to be seen. Things could get really interesting if the Browns ink Edelman to a lucrative, multi-year offer and then the Bengals decide to not match the offer sheet extended by the Browns. Here’s hoping the Browns newly formed front office has considered the potential of being stuck with two similarly skilled players.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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Footnotes:

  1. Just the third Patriots player in team history to catch over 100 passes. []

Mike Lombardi seen with Browns documents at NFL Combine

photo

While this may have merely been a matter of inoportune timing mixed with media notes provided to the cavlacade of individuals at the NFL Combine, former Cleveland Browns general manager Mike Lombardi was shown on NFL Network, sifting through documents with the Cleveland Browns logo on them.

Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan tweeted Lombardi’s on-screen arrival which was quickly followed by images tweeted from all corners of the web, mostly consisting of cell-phone shots of television screens.

While we won’t know exactly what Lombardi was thumbing through, it’s safe to say that all of the NFL Draft prep that was done prior to his exit from Berea is now firmly in the hands of Bill Belichick.

Mike Lombardi reportedly lands on his feet, set to join the Patriots

Well, that certainly didn’t take long. Multiple reports out of both Cleveland and New England claim former Browns general manager Mike Lombardi will join the New England Patriots’ front office, just days after being shown the door in Berea.

Lombardi will be reuniting with long-time friend in Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick. Recall, the two worked together with the Browns during Belichick’s first head coaching opportunity in Cleveland from 1991-1995. Lombardi’s role with the Patriots is unclear, though he is believed to be assuming the nebulous role of “personnel executive.” He spent five years working in the media (NFL Network, National Football Post) after being fired by the Oakland Raiders. He was subsequently hired to run the Browns prior to last season to work under Joe Banner pror to being fired earlier this week.

Various members of 92.3 The Fan, including Chris Fedor and Browns beat reporter Daryl Ruiter, were among the first out of Cleveland to report on Lombardi’s next chapter.

(Image via ClevelandBrowns.com)

Patriots’ Josh McDaniels reportedly withdraws from Browns consideration

is this the last time I get to use this graphic?

Is this the last time I get to use this graphic?

I’ve assumed since the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski that Josh McDaniels was the favorite to be the next coach of the Cleveland Browns. Not to say that McDaniels is necessarily my preference, but his connections to Michael Lombardi seemed all the more indicative that he should be the favorite until I heard otherwise. Well, thanks to Adam Schefter of ESPN, I’ve now heard otherwise.

Peter King also had a quick reaction…

At least they had an “awesome” meeting though, right you guys?!

So, what does this mean? Does this mean that the Browns lost their number one candidate coming into the interview process? The Browns have never admitted missing out on Chip Kelly, so we’ll likely never know for sure. What this means is that the Browns will continue to scour ranks of coordinators and position coaches like Ben McAdoo of the Packers and potentially Adam Gase of the Denver Broncos.

Plenty of successful head coaches have been hired from those ranks, so it’s not necessarily a disaster, but you’ll have a tough time convincing me that one of the Browns’ presumed top options is now unavailable, having followed down the unavailability path of Gus Malzahn.

[Related: Marla Ridenour on the state of the Browns, plus the Luol Deng trade – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-08]

Where His Demons Hide

JoshGordonHDR

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...]

Peter King: Pass interference call “handed New England a win”

Tom Brady throws deep down the right sideline for Josh Boyce, into the end zone, with rookie cornerback Leon McFadden in coverage. There is light contact. Incidental contact. The ball falls incomplete. McFadden is flagged for defensive pass interference. The 29-yard penalty puts the ball at the Cleveland 1, and Brady throws the winning touchdown pass to Danny Amendola on the next play. That’s not interference in second-grade flag football, and here it could well have handed New England a win. Where did the flag come from? Why? How is that call made? TV color man Steve Tasker agreed. He called the call “horrible” twice and “terrible” once. Couldn’t have said it better.

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in his most recent edition of his Monday Morning Quarterback. King set aside a section of his weekly column to discuss four calls which “materially affected” the outcomes of games. King tweeted on Sunday night that the Browns were “robbed” by the officiating. Odds are that he would have dedicated more space to the other questionable calls in this game if not for the other egregious missed calls that occurred this past Sunday. Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski refused to comment on the call on Monday, preferring to not focus on “things [he] can’t control.”

[Related: Cleveland Browns lose 27-26 thanks to key pass interference call]

Browns repeat history from 12 years ago

Jordan CameronI apologize for re-opening up old wounds, but the events of yesterday, along with this week’s upcoming opponent had me thinking back to one day 12 years ago. I remember it all to well….because I was there. 

On November 4, 2001, my life was completely different. The world had been changed forever two months earlier with the tragic events on September 11th. I had just gotten married and was living in Chicago in an apartment in the Lakeview neighborhood. No kids. No dog. Just me and my bride. My father was alive and healthy. LeBron James was a 16-year-old high school phenom, nowhere near becoming a Cavalier. The Indians had just finished up a season where they lost in game five of the ALDS to Seattle. The game is remembered mostly for Robbie Alomar dogging it down the line when hitting into a bases loaded, one-out, double play. Then there were the Browns.

The 2001 season was one that was going to be full of optimism. Team President Carmen Policy pulled off a coup after his first head coach, Chris Palmer, failed miserably. In all fairness to Carmen and his GM Dwight Clark (not that they deserve any sort of pass), Palmer was about their fifth choice. This time around, they were determined to hit a home run. Nobody thought that Butch Davis would leave the power that he had built at the University of Miami. But not many knew the gravity of Butch’s massive ego either. For those who don’t remember how good and talented Davis’s Miami teams were – think Alabama of these past four seasons. At one point, he had Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, and Clinton Portis in the same backfield!

[Read more...]

Belichick on the Browns: “They outcoached us and outplayed us in every area.”

During his conference call on Monday morning, New England head coach Bill Belichick had this to say about the Browns and the way they played on Sunday-

“Cleveland did a good job. They outcoached us and outplayed us in every area. Fortunately we were able to make some plays at the end, play some good situational football and be able to come back and score pretty quickly at the end of the game where a lot of things had to go right.”

The Patriots will be without TE Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the season. Tests revealed a torn ACL and MCL for Gronkowski after a hit yesterday involving Browns safety T.J. Ward. Ward was not flagged for the hit, and said after the game that he went low in part due to the league’s mandates and fines for hitting players high.

[Related: Cleveland Browns Game 13 Winners and Losers]

Cleveland Browns lose 27-26 thanks to key pass interference call

Brady Edelman Pats BrownsYou really can’t spend a lot of time talking about NFL football and talking about refereeing. It has a tendency to go both ways and good teams overcome all kinds of bad calls all the time. It’s a part of the game, period. Of course I open my recap that way because today is not one of those days.

Today, I have no choice. The Cleveland Browns were called for pass interference in the end zone on one of the softest calls I’ve ever seen while clinging to a 26-21 lead in New England. The Pats, who’d been trailing the whole game received the bail out call to end all bail out calls. Tom Brady threw long to Josh Boyce and Leon McFadden had great coverage as he and Boyce dove for the ball. The ball went past them both and the cowardly official tossed his flag on the field to make sure that the action wasn’t decided by the actual players making good football plays. Can you tell I’m still pretty fired up about it.

Serenity now… [Read more...]

Animated: Josh Gordon celebrates after toasting Aqib Talib for 80 yards

Josh Gordon was having a quiet day. Operative word being “was.” After being harrassed by Aqib Talib all day long, Gordon finally exploded for 80 yards all on one play as he caught a pass in stride and shrugged off the agitating New England defensive back.

And this was his celebration.

Josh Gordon Celebrates 80 Yarder

 

[Related: Cleveland Browns – What to watch for now that the games are meaningless]

Browns-Patriots inactives for week 14

Jason Campbell will get the start at quarterback for the Browns against New England today, with the newly signed Caleb Hanie serving as his backup.

The Browns announced quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Alex Tanney will both be inactive for the week 14 clash against the Patriots. Other inactives for the Browns include wide receiver Josh Cooper, offense linemen Martin Wallace, Garret Gilkey, Reid Fragel, and tight end Keavon Milton.

The Patriots will have Steven Ridley back in their backfield on Sunday after he was scratched from the team’s after roster last week. Ridley is not expected to get many touches as LeGarrett Blount and Shane Vareen are set to carry the bulk of the load.

The Patriots will however be without two of their young receivers as both Aaron Dobson and Kembrell Thompkins are inactive. Joining them among the Patriots inactives are running back Brandon Bolden, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, linebacker Steve Beauharnais, offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, and defensive linemen Jake Bequette.

[Related: Cleveland Browns - What to watch for now that the games are meaningless]

NFL News: Kellen Winslow Jr. suspended four games for performance enhancing substances

Former Cleveland Browns first round draft pick tight end Kellen Winslow has reportedly been suspended for four games for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances. It was just this past week that my Twitter timeline came alive as Jon Gruden called Kellen Winslow a good story on Monday Night Football. Apparently it was too good to be true.

Winslow has battled injuries his entire career thanks to a devastating motorcycle crash that likely still sits fresh in Cleveland Browns fans’ minds. Even still, Winslow was a beast for the Browns in 2007 catching 82 balls for over 1100 yards and five touchdowns. Winslow was eventually traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Eric Mangini took over for Romeo Crennel. It was a painful trade for Browns fans, but many understood the need for it as Winslow had been rumored to have an attitude problem in the huddle and elsewhere. The Browns received a second rounder in 2009 and a fifth rounder in 2010 for the battered target.

Winslow’s comeback this year was an interesting story. After playing only one game and making one reception for the Patriots, Winslow had played in the Jets’ first five games and had 17 receptions and two touchdowns. It’s still interesting, I guess, but for wholly different reasons now.

[Related: In praise of the Browns front office… so far]

Forbes: Browns are “bigger concern for NFL” than Patriots

The New England Patriots may have just released a budding superstar-turned-alleged murderer, but Forbes’ Mike Ozanian feels that the Cleveland Browns are a bigger issue for the NFL given their recent run of misfortune off of the field. This one, per Ozanian, starts at the top of the food chain.

 “The Browns should be one of football’s flagship small-market franchises,” writes Ozanian. “But the Browns now appear on the verge of imploding. Haslam’s Pilot Flying J, his source of wealth, is being investigated by the FBI for defrauding customers. Three of the truck stop company’s employees have entered guilty pleas. And credit ratings for Pilot Flying J have been put on negative watch for possible downgrade by both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s.”

The Forbes column touches on the Browns players who joined the Browns after Haslam bought the team and have already gotten in trouble with the law. Quentin Groves, signed as a free agent, was arrested in April and charged with solicitation in a prostitution sting. Seventh-round draft pick Armonty Bryant was busted in May for driving under the influence. And, most recently, undrafted free agent Ausar Walcott was released by the Browns after he was arrested for an attempted murder earlier this week.

Ozanian adds that despite having the lowest average ticket price in the league, FirstEnergy (formerly Cleveland Browns) Stadium is being filled to only 90% of capacity. Forbes has pegged the team’s revenue at $258 million for the 2011 season, tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 20th in the NFL.

“Don’t be shocked if Haslam unloads his team,” says Ozanian. “It might be the best thing for both the Browns and the NFL.”

[Related: It’s been all quiet on the Weeden front this off-season]

NFL News – Nate Ulrich on Tebow coverage, Browns position battles, Josh Gordon suspension, contract extensions and more – WFNY Podcast – 2013-06-14

WFNY Podcast LogoAlways good to catch up with the Browns observations with Nate Ulrich from the Akron Beacon Journal. Here’s all that we discussed.

  • How good do you feel not having to talk Tebow?
  • Bill Belichick out to prove he doesn’t have to talk about anything.
  • Gregg Popovich and how he just defies everyone to do what he wants.
  • Ray Horton’s new attacking scheme and how evident it might or might not be at this point
  • T.J. Ward in the box a bit more, maybe like Troy Polamalu?
  • Ray Horton’s Phoenix radio station and how it was going to mirror that of the Steelers
  • Maybe Horton’s change in tune is to avoid player comparisons from Pittsburgh
  • Josh Gordon and the league’s CBA that limits the fact-finding
  • Dawgs by Nature post about changing to Drew Rosenhaus and the timing with the change
  • Joe Haden and his change to Drew Rosenhaus as well
  • Davone Bess and his ability to fill in for Josh Gordon
  • Davone Bess replacing Josh Cribbs as the leader of the wide receivers
  • Fullback and Cleveland Browns and Vonta Leach
  • Leach’s agent talked to Mike Lombardi but no visit was scheduled
  • No real interest on the Browns’ part
  • Owen Marecic’s future and Brad Smelley’s future with the Browns
  • Browns had two backs in the backfield a lot including Ogbonnaya and Hardesty together
  • The Brandon Jackson signing and how weird it was
  • The injury history of Trent Richardson and at the RB position in general
  • If there was one position group where the Browns might supplement the roster, which one would it be?
  • Chris Owens, Buster Skrine, Leon McFadden all battling it out opposite Haden and in the nickel
  • Brandon Bogotay and his competition with Shayne Graham
  • Expected player extensions and why we haven’t seen any just yet
  • Mike Lombardi said it was “a little early”
  • Moving training camp to 4-6:30 PM and how packed camp has been anyway
  • Fan experience and how important it seems to be to the new regime


Check out this episode

NFL Draft Day Rumor: Browns inquiring about QB Ryan Mallet again

Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald is reporting that the Cleveland Browns have called the New England Patriots looking to trade for former Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet-

“The Browns have continued to show interest in acquiring Mallett from the Patriots, according to a source. The Pats want at least a second-round pick in return for the backup quarterback who was taken in the third round of the 2011 draft.

The Browns and Buccaneers inquired about Mallett earlier this offseason, to no avail. One snag is Mallett’s contract, which can’t be restructured or extended until next offseason, per CBA rules. While the Browns would have Mallett in their control for a very affordable number over the next two years, they’d obviously be acquiring him under the assumption that he’d play well enough to earn a big paycheck. If that happens, he would control all of the negotiating leverage.”

The Patriots, according to Howe are seeking a second round pick for Mallet. The Browns of course used their second round choice in this year’s draft last summer on WR Josh Gordon. If the Patriots held firm to their desire for a second rounder, Cleveland would have to trade back from the sixth pick to acquire a second rounder to send to New England.

There has been speculation that the Browns new regime is not satisfied with QB Brandon Weeden and has looked at replacing him with Geno Smith of West Virginia, EJ Manuel of Florida State and of course Mallet. Publicly the Browns have said they are excited about Weeden’s skills, specifically his strong arm.

Ryan Mallet was a third round pick of the Patriots in 2011. He has thrown 4 passes in the NFL, completing one and throwing one interception.

Obviously many draft day rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. Presented for your information.

[Related: Fun with numbers, draft day edition]

NFL Week 4: Winners and Losers

So after each Browns game I pick my winners and losers for the game. Since the Browns played last Thursday, I thought we’d open up today with a league wide winners and losers piece. I mean hey, what else are we going to talk about this morning?

Alright. League wide winners and losers from yesterday. Go…

LOSERS: Detroit Special Teams. Wow. The Lions gave up a kick-off return for a score and a punt return for a score in their 20-13 loss to the Vikings. The Lions fall to 1-3 in a season they had playoff expectations. They four teams they played so far had a regular season record of 27-37 last year, and if you take San Francisco out of the equation, they were 14-34. Yikes.

WINNERS: The Usual Suspects. Brady, Manning, Rodgers and Brees combined for 1,443 yards passing (all over 300 yards), 13 TDs, 1 Interception and 3 wins. Why not 4? Well, Brees and Rodgers played each other. Think QB play is important in this league? Look at the rest of the QB numbers. Insane. [Read more...]

Top Five Non-Essential Things Jimmy Haslam Should Do With the Browns

There is a whole Tumblr page dedicated to these Browns jerseys. It is funny, but also embarrassing.

There are some really important decisions to make about front-office personnel, coaching and stadium issues, but I have some less relevant things that Jimmy Haslam should probably tackle when he finally officially becomes owner of the Browns. Here they are in non slide show format…

5. Start an obsolete Browns jersey trade-in program

I don’t know what the appropriate denominations are to make this program work, but it is high time that Cleveland Browns fans everywhere be given special amnesty for the hosts of bad jerseys that have been purchased over the years. Even a fan favorite like Chris Spielman is an utter debacle from the perspective of consumerism. Additionally, and more seriously, the obsolete jerseys running around the circles of Cleveland Browns fans is reinforcing the exact culture that Jimmy Haslam is coming in to change. It doesn’t do anyone in the world any bit of good to be at the same tailgate with some guy wearing a much-too-bright-and-clean Jake Delhomme jersey. Even worse, what team with Trent Richardson needs to be reminded of the failures of William Green, Travis Prentice, and even Peyton Hillis? Offer a voucher to get at least a high percentage of those bad boys off the street. [Read more...]

Junior Seau is more than just a concussion storyline

One of the big concerns I had yesterday as football fans everywhere mourned the death of Junior Seau was that it was immediately going to fuel the concussion storyline that has been building. The concussion storyline is an important one that has been on the back burner or ignored for too long. Players have been acting like gladiators, needlessly risking their health for the adulation of fans and profit of owners and coaches. It is a systemic problem in which every NFL stakeholder is involved. Coaches have historically preached toughness and playing through pain. Players have looked down on their peers for not doing so. NFL fans (probably this one included) have mocked players like Jay Cutler or LaDainian Tomlinson most recently, for not playing in big games due to injury. As someone who cares about the issue, the immediate speculation and conclusions being drawn around Junior Seau’s death were a concern to me. I know I can’t control the storyline, but I just didn’t think it would help anyone if this issue had a sudden face and potentially a self-created martyr.

What’s so bad about having a martyr if it leads to overwhelming good for everyone via awareness? This is where it gets tricky. As of yesterday, nobody really knew why Junior Seau committed suicide. In fact, as the investigation was presumed to be a suicide, even that wasn’t 100% conclusive. Yet all over the place, I saw people talking about how scary the concussion situation is and how fans might fear for the next generation of retired players because of Seau’s death. I just want to slow the entire thing down so we have a little bit of time to gain perspective not just on the concussion issue, but also suicide. [Read more...]

Video: Poor Patriots fan

Yes Boston fan. We all hate you. Videos like this make us smile. Don’t worry though, some day one of your teams will catch a break.

Warning: loud. Turn your sound down and enjoy.

By the way, either she doesn’t know this video is on the internet or they broke up already.

(Hat tip: Deadspin)