August 26, 2014

NFL players say Browns are third least-desirable team to play for in the NFL


At least we’re not… Oakland?

ESPN’s NFL Nation did a confidential survey of 82 players and Oakland was the team they’d least like to play for. That’s what the poll concluded after the prompted statement, “The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.” The Browns came in third after the aforementioned Raiders and the Buffalo Bills. The Browns collected 16 percent of the vote.

The only surprise on the list for me was the Green Bay Packers coming in fifth. I just assumed all of the “top” teams would be big-time losers. Apparently there might be a bit of geographical bias when it’s an available option for an NFL player to be so picky and choosy.

That’s the real good news out of all this. The Browns’ best players haven’t bolted because the structure of the system enables the Browns to keep Joe Thomas, Joe Haden and Alex Mack, you know, providing the Browns in turn agree to make them very rich.

Now, if the Browns can start to consistently win and find more and more players worthy of being given giant contracts, I’m confident that they can get themselves out of the flunky five that NFL Nation came up with. As always, that’s a big “if.”

Terrell Pryor to be cut or traded by Raiders

Terrelle Pryor Ohio State Sugar Bowl

Former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Terrell Pryor didn’t have an awful year last year, but he apparently isn’t going to be a part of the future in Oakland. It certainly sounds like if you’re a bettor that you should probably assume he’ll get cut.

It seems unlikely that anyone would trade for Pryor when the word is out that he’s about to be cut. Then again, he did show flashes of promise last season, and he’s only due a salary of $750,000 this year, so it’s possible that some team might think he’s worth a seventh-round pick.

I certainly don’t think this is the kind of thing that the Browns should pursue, but you never know where Ray Farmer and company might think to look for a backup to replace Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden. Terrell Pryor might not excite Browns fans, but in a field that includes Rex Grossman, it’s probably not the worst idea ever.

Pryor’s highlights from last year were mostly plays he made running the ball, but he did have two games where he had a QB rating over 100. He also had two games with over 100 yards rushing.

NFL News: Browns again sign defensive end Brian Sanford

Defensive end Brian Sanford has sign a deal with the Cleveland Browns, the team confirmed on Thursday morning.

ESPN’s Adam Caplan first reported news of a two-year contract on Christmas Day.

Sanford, 26, might be most well known in Cleveland for being Seattle’s return in the eventually voided John Moffitt trade. The vocal Moffitt, who then retired from football, said the Browns failed his physical due to a salary dispute.

That trade was announced back on Aug. 19. It was voided days later. Sanford then was waived by the Browns on Aug. 31 and has spent the season with the Oakland Raiders, bouncing back and forth on their roster. He was released for good on Dec. 7.

The Browns had an available roster spot since placing Davone Bess on the reserve/non-football illness list prior to last week’s game. They likely needed additional defensive line help with both Phil Taylor and John Hughes not practicing on Tuesday.

Long-term, it’s perhaps a curious move to give Sanford two years. This past offseason, the team shored up its front seven in drafting Barkevious Mingo, plus signing Desmond Bryant and Paul Kruger. The unit has shined occasionally throughout the year, but has been inconsistent over the past couple months.

Cleveland (4-11) enters Sunday’s game as six-point underdogs in Pittsburgh (7-8). An upset would knock the Steelers out of playoff contention, although they’d still need help from several other teams to lock up the AFC’s final wild card spot.

[Related: Browns hire Lombardi and Chudzinski — WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2013: No. 5]

Josh Cribbs: LeBron James should return to Cleveland

I think LeBron James should go back to Cleveland and all will be forgiven in the universe.

– Former Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl return man/wide receiver Josh Cribbs in a list-based column for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback. Cribbs also addresses chivalry, turning your cell phone off on airplanes and boner pills, in no particular order.

[Related: Training Camp News and Notes: Weeden struggles with consistency]

NFL News: Seneca Wallace signs with Saints for one year

The news had it that Seneca Wallace was visiting the Raiders and somewhat close to coming to agreement, but that must not have been the case. Seneca Wallace reportedly signed with the Saints today on a one-year deal.

Assuming that Seneca Wallace is officially a backup and only a backup, you have to think New Orleans would be a preferable place to try and win the backup job. The Saints have talent and are getting their head coach, Sean Payton, back after a one-year suspension for “bounty-gate”1 conclusions.

Details of the deal were not immediately disclosed, but judging by other deals we’ve seen, including here with Jason Campbell, I’d be surprised if it was a whole heck of a lot of NFL dollars.

[Related: Trent Richardson says he may always have “lingering pain” in ribs]



  1. I did that on purpose because I know some of you DESPISE the “bounty-gate” label. []

Raiders sign former Browns safety Usama Young

The connections between the Raiders and Browns seem to keep getting stronger, or at least more strongly anecdotal. First the report that the Raiders badly wanted to keep Desmond Bryant, whom the Browns signed in free agency. Now, Pro Football Talk is reporting that the Raiders have signed former Browns safety Usama Young. Details of the deal aren’t available yet.

Darin Gantt of PFT makes the connection that Usama Young will rejoin his former Saints secondary coach Dennis Allen, now with the Raiders.

So, even if the money is nowhere close to being equal, I’ll still take the Desmond Bryant for Usama Young swap. Young was expected to nail down a starting spot for the Cleveland Browns, but ultimately couldn’t stay healthy for parts of his two years with the team.

Young originally signed a 3-year deal with the Browns for $5.9 million. He earned $1.7 million in 2011 and $1.8 million in 2012 before the Browns decided to save the approximately $2.25 million in cap space by cutting him loose.

[Related: Raiders "badly wanted to re-sign Desmond Bryant, per Peter King]

Raiders to work out former Browns QB Seneca Wallace

Adam Schefter is reporting (by way of PFT for us) that former Browns QB Seneca Wallace is going to work out for the Oakland Raiders. It just goes to show that there are at least nine lives available for anyone who can stand under center in the NFL. It also goes to show that the economics of football are changing just a bit.

Seneca Wallace was cut prior to the 2012 season in favor of Brandon Weeden, Colt McCoy and Thaddeus Lewis. Wallace was set to make $2.4 million on the year and even with plenty of money to spare, it almost certainly was a part of the Browns’ decision to cut Wallace loose.

Fast-forward to this off-season where the Browns signed another journeyman veteran quarterback – Jason Campbell – with experience at a similar age as to what Wallace was when he originally signed with the Browns. Wallace signed that deal for three years and $9 million plus incentives. Campbell’s contract is two years and a mere $3.75 million with a reported $2.6 million in available incentives. And Campbell is a player with legitimate starting experience that Seneca Wallace never had.

Add in additional evidence like Kevin Kolb’s two-year deal for $6.1 million with a miniscule $1 million in guaranteed money, and it might be a full-blown trend at the league’s most important position.

[Related: NFL News: Browns sign WR David Nelson]

NFL News: Browns’ Kaluka Maiava lands with Raiders

The Cleveland Browns have been signing players, just not their own. Kaluka Maiava has been signed by the Raiders according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Maiava’s time with Cleveland is relatively non-descript. He was a fourth round pick by Eric Mangini in 2009. He was a spot starter at times due to injuries and had a few highlights here and there as a depth type of player. At 5’11″ and 230 pounds he was a bit undersized to be an NFL linebacker from the get go.

In the end, Maiava ends his Browns run with 99 tackles and 4.5 sacks in four seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

[Related: Breaking down Paul Kruger’s and Desmond Bryant’s Browns contracts]

NFL Rumor: Is Mike Holmgren heading to Oakland?

Though Mike Holmgren said that he would spend the immediate future in a state of retirement that included motorcycles and margaritas, it appears that the alleged quarterback guru could be heading to the Bay Area to enter into a leadership role with the Oakland Raiders.

ESPN’s John Clayton reports that the “former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks coach” has been in advanced talks with the Raiders front office. Clayton dubs Holgmren a “natural fit” in Oakland due to an existing relationship with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie. Part of the job would reportedly be to lead the quest for a new stadium, conceivably one without a baseball diamond draped across the middle of it.

Holmgren, brought to Cleveland in December of 2009 under the guise of being a “serious, credible leader.” A quarterbacks coach and offensive mastermind with two Super Bowl appearances on his résumé, Holmgren was ushered out of Berea upon the sale of the Browns to Jimmy Haslam III. Three years later, the Browns enter the upcoming free agency and NFL Draft period with “quarterback” still listed as a team need. 

[Related: Moving Forward in Berea: Mike Holmgren, legacies and dirty water]

NFL Draft: Browns currently picking 6th

According to the experts at 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]

Shurmur calls game clinching drive against Oakland a confidence booster

It was a big moment in the game on Sunday. The Raiders had the momentum after pulling to within a field goal mid-way through the 4th quarter. That’s when the Browns went on a 14 play, 94 yard drive consuming 6:04 of game clock.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur talked about the drive on Monday-

“Anytime you do something once, then you become confident that you can do it again. If you’re not getting that part done, then of course you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop or we’re going to screw something up, all that stuff. You get beyond it by doing it and I think that’s where the confidence comes in. Hopefully we can repeat it as we move forward.”

In addition, he was asked if he thought the team had ‘turned a corner’ the last few weeks-

“I don’t know about turning the corner. That’s a good question. What I do know is we beat a quality opponent at home last week and we went on the road and won a game on the road. Now, what we’ve got to do is try to build on that. I think for the most part, we’ve got a pretty healthy team and we’ve got a lot of young players that are getting better. I’ve mention this throughout the year, when you’re working with young players and only time will tell how good they can be, you see guys improve. I think that’s a good thing.”

Listen to Craig and I discuss that game clinching drive and much more on today’s podcast.

Browns end ugly road losing streak against Raiders 20-17

“Just win baby!” The famous words of deceased Raiders head honcho Al Davis rang so very true in Oakland today as the Browns faced the silver and black. It wasn’t a pretty game. The rain held off, but the field was mucky just the same. The Browns had some big plays including long passes to Mohamed Massaquoi and a 44-yard TD to Josh Gordon. The Browns also turned the ball over via two ugly, early rising fastballs from Brandon Weeden who was wild early. On the Raiders side, I couldn’t tell you how many balls were dropped by Raider receivers, but it was a noticeably high amount. In the end, the Browns had what felt like one of their better offensive games of the season as they won 20-17.

The Browns ended an ugly 12-game road losing streak. Phil Dawson also ended a not-so-ugly streak as he couldn’t escape the ugly Oakland turf. His impressive consecutive field goal streak was ended at 29. Rather than bemoan the end of the streak, it’s much more important to realize just how impressive Dawson has been. The field goal attempt that ultimately missed was a high snap on bad turf and was ultimately blocked as well. Even in missing his first out of thirty attempts, Dawson didn’t go down easily with a common shank.

The game wasn’t even really as close as the final three point margin. The Raiders had one big play to score a touchdown for 64-yards to Rob Streater over Buster Skrine. The Raiders added a 17-yarder to tight end Brandon Meyers with one second on the game clock, but it was already pretty much over, although not before some tense moments. [Read more...]

Browns-Raiders: Terrelle Pryor Is Active

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, former Ohio State and current Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor will be active for the first time this season when the Raiders host the Browns this afternoon. The third-round supplemental draft pick from 2011 saw action in one game last season after serving his 5-game suspension that the NFL carried over from his college days.

In case you forgot, Pryor was the headline player in the OSU tattoo scandal that cost Jim Tressel his job and the Buckeyes a chance to play in a bowl game1 this season. Pryor was *31-4 in his three years at OSU, quarterbacking *three Big Ten championships, a Rose Bowl win over Oregon, and a *Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas.2

[Related: Joe Banner in Cleveland: When the circus leaves town]



  1. Probably one in Miami, FL against Notre Dame []
  2. Here an asterisk, there an asterisk, everywhere an asterisk. []

Browns vs. Raiders Reader Survey

A week after conquering a battered rival Steelers team, the Cleveland Browns take their renewed defensive health and struggling offense to Oakland to try to make sure they stay ahead in the power rankings. The Raiders are not good. The Browns aren’t good on the road. How does it come out in the educated minds of WFNY readers?

Browns and Raiders battling for top-five draft position this Sunday

I don’t think anyone at WFNY is a proponent of losing in order to have better draft picks in the NFL. After 11 games and only three wins for the Browns it is becoming increasingly difficult not to at least think about the draft and where the Browns could end up picking. That being the case, it is interesting that this week’s matchup with the Raiders could prove to be important when it comes time to figure out who is picking where.

According to one of the best sources for draft info, the Raiders have a slight edge on the Browns because they use strength of schedule to determine tie-breakers in-season. The Raiders are currently listed 4th with the Browns at 5th.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9)
3. Carolina Panthers (2-8)
4. Oakland Raiders (3-8)
5. Cleveland Browns (3-8)
6. Philadelphia Eagles (3-7)
7. San Diego Chargers (4-7)
8. Buffalo Bills (4-7)
9. Tennessee Titans (4-7)
10. Detroit Lions (4-7)

As you can see, there’s no telling where the Browns will ultimately end up on this list because they have a chance to beat the Raiders this weekend. Additionally, the one-win Chiefs, who are currently in first place are also upcoming on the Browns’ schedule.

[Related: Animated: NFL has obvious issues with officiating consistency]

Pryor says he was humbled by what happened at Ohio State

Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter has a piece out today on Terelle Pryor. Among many things discussed was the circumstances that led to Pryor’s suspension at OSU and the season he had last year in Oakland sitting on the bench.

“It was humbling,” he said. “A mistake I made when I was a freshman by selling my pants for $3,000 just took away everything from me. I was just driven into the ground. I was the worst person in the world. My face popped up on the screen, and it seemed like I was the only one who did anything. I was the only one who was getting attacked. At that point last year, I’m 21 and it just felt like everything was against me, like I can’t do anything right. I did something to help somebody else out, and I end up getting into trouble. I understand. I shouldn’t have sold the stuff and taken $3,000. But I was kind of in a place where I didn’t understand why this is happening to me — especially for the reason that I did it.

“The reason why I did it was to pay my mother’s gas bill and some of her rent. She was four months behind in rent, and the [landlord] was so nice because he was an Ohio State fan. He gave her the benefit of the doubt and she said, ‘My son will pay you back sometime if you just let me pay you back during my work sessions.’ She ended up losing her job, and she and my sister lived there. Let me remind you it was freezing cold in November, December, and she’s using the oven as heat. That’s what I did as a kid. I was telling the NCAA, ‘Please, anything that you can do. I gave my mother this so my sister wouldn’t be cold, so my mother wouldn’t be cold.’ They didn’t have any sympathy for me. It’s not like I went there and bought new Jordans. It’s documented. Whenever I write my book the proof will be in there, the receipt that the money I gave my mother was to pay the electric and heat bill. The truth is going to come out one day when the time is right. I don’t think I deserved [being punished] in that way, because of the reason I was doing it. I felt like I was doing God’s work in a way, and I was getting driven into the ground.”

Do take a moment and read the whole piece if you are an Ohio State fan. It probably won’t change your opinion of Pryor. It certainly doesn’t change the fact that Oakland decided they need to give Matt Leinart a shot at the back-up job.

[Related: Raiders use third round pick on Pryor in supplemental draft]

NFL Free Agency: Browns interested in linebacker Manny Lawson

After signing Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker the Browns might not be finished with its defense in free agency just yet. attributes to league sources that the Browns, Colts and Raiders are all interested in the 27-year-old former 49er and Bengal, linebacker Manny Lawson.

Lawson is a former first rounder out of NC State. He is 6’5″ and listed at 240 pounds. Tell me if this sounds familiar. He was drafted by the 49ers as they transitioned from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4 after playing his college career as a defensive end. Unlike Browns experiments with guys like David Veikune, Lawson was able to make the transition pretty well.

We’ll see if anything develops between the Browns and Manny Lawson. He signed with the Bengals last season for 1 year and $3 million. Who knows if the Browns are looking to add some depth, or if they might have concerns about Scott Fujita’s potential discipline from the league due to the Saints’ bounty program.

[Related: Scott Fujita named in Saints bounty investigation]

NFL Free Agency: Wimbley signs with Titans for five years up to $35 million

Kamerion Wimbley is headed to Tennessee to do what he should have been doing all along. Presumably, that means he will finally be an all-time defensive end. Adam Caplan reports by way of PFT

Adam Caplan reports that the Titans and Wimbley have agreed to terms on a five-year, $35 million deal with $13.5 million guaranteed and $11.5 million in the first season.

I know Browns fans dreamed of bringing Wimbley back to play opposite Sheard now that the Browns are playing a 4-3. It was my instinct all along that Wimbley was going to get paid. It isn’t a superstar deal, but it is a decent deal. In the end, not unmanageably high though.

Assuming Wimbley got a decent signing bonus, call it at least $8 million, that means his cap number for the first year of the deal is somewhere in the ballpark of $3 – $5 million or roughly what the Browns ponied up to bring in Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker combined.

Maybe Wimbley had no interest in coming back to the team that mishandled the earlier part of his career even if none of those same coaches are here anymore. With the Browns having $20-some million under the cap, it is hard to believe that Wimbley’s cap number was a big problem.

[Time Machine: Wimbley was "shocked" by his trade to Oakland]

Report: Former Brown Kamerion Wimbley could be cut

According to a report by’s Jason La Canfora, the Raiders will cut LB Kamerion Wimbley if he doesn’t agree to restructure his contract. A contract he signed before last season.

Wimbley is due to make $11 million this season, with $6.5 million guaranteed, and Oakland is trying to restructure its budget and get under the salary cap. Wimbley also has triggers in his deal that execute $19 million in future guarantees if he’s not released before the start of the league year.

The Raiders still value Wimbley, but are in desperate need of clearing some cap space. Wimbley had 7 sacks last season, and 9 in his first year as a Raider. He has started all 32 games since being traded to Oakland.

Did the Raiders Make a Tough Decision that Mike Holmgren Couldn’t?

Many wanted to laugh at the Raiders’ new GM Reggie McKenzie for firing the coach, Hue Jackson yesterday after one season of 8-8 football.  From where I sit it looks like it could be entirely reasonable.  Granted, a lot will depend on who the Raiders hire and what they do next year, but given our own experiences with the Browns and Mike Holmgren, it doesn’t look totally crazy to me.

Mike Holmgren has all but admitted that he wasted a year by keeping Eric Mangini around for an extra season.  Ultimately by hiring Pat Shurmur and pretty consistently referring to this past 4-12 campaign as “year one,” Mike Holmgren is basically saying that he started his project a year later than the one in which he arrived.

Now in fairness to Eric Mangini, I don’t think we can call his second year with the Browns a total waste.  It was another year where Mangini reinforced what it meant to practice and play with discipline in the NFL.  On the heels of Romeo Crennel’s reign I would have a tough time just calling it a waste. [Read more...]