August 26, 2014

Evan Mathis on the trading block? Yes please.

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With all due respect to the recently signed Paul McQuistan, the Cleveland Browns offensive line would look mighty nice with Evan Mathis in tow.

NFL Network and The Philadelphia Inquirer are reporting that the Philadelphia Eagles are willing to part with their First Team All-Pro guard. Mathis, 33, is heading into a season where he saw his left tackle and center get raises all while he has been one of the best offensive linemen in football over the last three seasons. It was, after all, just one year ago that Mathis was dubbed the team’s MVP by the local media.

The Alabama product would like a bit of an increase on his current $5 million salary—who wouldn’t? Conviniently, the Cleveland Browns have the space to make this work. They also have a cornucopia of late-round draft picks which can be packaged and moved if needed. The team has already invested in their running game by signing the top free agent at the position in former Ben Tate. What better way to show conviction than to put the game’s best left guard next to the game’s best left tackle? Sure, the cost isn’t yet known1, but 33-year-olds looking for new contracts aren’t exactly being dealt for early-round picks.Who knows? This could also be the move that would show Alex Mack that things are—finally—happening in Cleveland.

Get it done, Berea.

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Footnotes:

  1. Update: The Eagles reportedly want a third-rounder. []

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)

 

If Rob Chudzinski is fired, it’s just another Browns embarrassment

Screen Shot 2013-12-29 at 3.33.49 PMI could sit here and break down what happened in the Steelers game, but I have no interest in doing that. The only thing on my mind right now is what an embarrassment the Cleveland Browns organization continues to be with today’s “one-and-done” rumors involving Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski. Granted nothing has happened yet, but just the fact that this rumor has legs across multiple analysts – From Chris Mortenson to John Clayton – is embarrassing. It may be even more embarrassing than the Browns’ bad record, which at 4-12 says so very much, but we’ve seen bad won-loss records plenty of times. I really hoped that the embarrassing Berea chaos of things like Mangini / Kokinis and even Phil Savage’s power struggle were long gone. If Rob Chudzinski gets fired after one year, it’ll be tough to believe that organizational dysfunction doesn’t flow through the pipes of even a renovated Browns complex in Berea.

Rob Chudzinski is not coming off of a good rookie head coaching campaign, to be sure. No matter what happened to the Cleveland Browns from a personnel standpoint, the fact is that only winning four games is a miserable failure. The Browns weren’t even able to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. The fact that the Browns couldn’t win after having their bye week is miserable, but even given all that, I find it shocking to think that the Browns are going to fire Rob Chudzinski and his staff after just one year coaching a roster that wasn’t exactly loaded up on both sides of the ball by the front office. Yet, those are the rumors that persist today. [Read more...]

Cleveland Browns don’t get a second chance at a first impression

FirstEnergy Stadium Steelers

I really wonder how much of Joe Banner’s legendary arrogance is dripping over in Berea right now. We’ve all heard the stories from Philly about power struggles and ego that I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to assume the Browns are operating with a fair amount of arrogance, do you? How else can you explain the fact that the Browns – despite losing one of their QBs to an ACL injury in early October – are headed into a week of regular season NFL action with their third ((used to be first, but currently is undoubtedly third)) QB slated to start with no actual backup on the roster? (Caleb Hanie might be signed by the time you’re reading this, but the point stands.) How else do you explain some trading maneuvers, that even if smart in the long run, have left their team woefully thin at the end of their very first NFL campaign at the helm? Regardless of how you feel about the future and how the Browns have set themselves up, there’s no denying that this year’s team has under-performed in a down year in the division with a somewhat easy schedule.

This isn’t to question all the Browns’ moves or their future. The Browns don’t need Shamarko Thomas (the guy who was taken with the draft pick they traded to Pittsburgh) and hindsight proves pretty well that they didn’t need Trent Richardson. That doesn’t mean that the Browns don’t need a running back at all, however. Further, their game on Sunday against a largely disappointing Steelers team indicates they’re in need of plenty more. [Read more...]

NFL: Former Browns pass rusher Alex Hall crushing QBs in Canada

Former Cleveland Browns player Alex Hall is sacking quarterbacks at an astonishing rate in the CFL. Hall plays for the Roughriders and had 16 sacks in the 18-game regular season. Hall finished second in the league behind Charleston Hughes, who had 18 sacks for the year.

Hall was originally drafted by the Browns in the seventh round in 2008. He had three sacks in his rookie year, but was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Eagles as a part of the Chris Gocong / Sheldon Brown deal.

Here’s an interview with Alex Hall that’s interspersed with some highlights of his play this season.

[Related: NFL Draft Rumors: Browns heavily scouting running backs]

While We’re Waiting… Why the Tribe will make the playoffs

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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An optimistic take on the Indians’ playoff hopes: “The good news for Cleveland is that the difficult stretch is over. There are 17 games left on the Indians’ schedule, and aside from a three-game stand in Kansas City, the remaining teams are a gift from the baseball gods. It’s practically the reverse of what they just endured — whereas the only solace in the previous 15-game stretch was the Mets series, the Royals represent the only hardship between now and the end of the season. The rest reads like a wish list: White Sox (six games), Astros (four games), Twins (four games). The question is, how many games can they expect to win from the remainder?” [Shane Ryan/Grantland] [Read more...]

The Diff: Coveted Chip Kelly brings Moneyball style to NFL

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I wrote about some Browns storylines heading into Week 1. Now, I’m writing about the NFL’s latest fad and one of my favorite topics ever: Chip Kelly.

The Diff

Jan. 5-6, 2013: A crazy weekend in Browns news. The next Monday, the WFNY crew congregated for a roundtable to reflect on what exactly just happened. In the end, University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly had indeed bolted for the NFL, but chose the Philadelphia Eagles instead of Cleveland or elsewhere. I was pretty decimated; not only because I was on Twitter alert for 16 hours a day for naught, but because the much-coveted Chip Kelly had gone elsewhere. My favorite football coach wouldn’t be coaching my favorite team. [Read more...]

NFL Draft Rumor: Browns trying to trade up to land Geno Smith

The winds could be shifting in Berea as the Cleveland Browns are now rumored to be considering a trade up to the third spot in the NFL Draft to select West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.

Once thought to be in the market to be trading down to acquire an extra draft pick, assumed to be in the second round, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reports that there is a buzz building which would have the Browns attempting to leapfrog the Philadelphia Eagles to ensure that Smith is available when their helmet is on the clock.

The Eagles are rumored to be enamored with Smith while the Browns are reportedly not sold on Brandon Weeden as their quarterback of the future. The Browns traded up to the third spot in 2012 to draft running back Trent Richardson. Not owning a second-round selection in 2013, a trade up would ensure that the Browns—without a subsequent trade—would not be selecting at all on Friday night as a third-round pick would be needed to make the jump.

ESPN’s Todd McShay recently pegged the Browns with Smith, but doing so via their sixth-overall selection. The Eagles are the former employer of current Browns CEO Joe Banner.

[Related: WFNY Roundtable: Browns draft predictions for the 1st round]

WFNY Stats & Info: NFL mock draft database teaser

Tomorrow, in my weekly WFNY Wednesday post called The Diff, I’ll be sharing a detailed analysis of 50 NFL mock drafts and dozens more big boards.

For today, as a special “WFNY Stats & Info” sneak peek of tomorrow’s post, I bring you inside the WFNY email chain for two early items I shared with the group this morning.

Milliner emerging as mock draft favorite at No. 6

Among these 50 mock drafts from around the Internet, Alabama CB Dee Milliner is picked in the top five in just eight of them (16%). Among the other 42 mock drafts, he’s picked by the Cleveland Browns at No. 6 in 28 (66.7%).

Obviously, for clarity, there are so many factors at play when mock drafts include trades. Thus, those mocks have been ignored for this early analysis. But for now, let it be known that Milliner is emerging as the clear favorite if the Browns actually do stay at No. 6 — so study up.

After Milliner, there are five other players — BYU DE Ezekiel Ansah, Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, Oregon OLB Dion Jordan, Utah DT Star Lotulelei and LSU DE Barkevious Mingo — that were picked by the Browns in 3-5 of the mock drafts.

Mock draft confusion with the Eagles at No. 4

While the first three picks in the NFL Draft have shown a relatively consensus pattern per these 50 mocks, there’s no favorite at all for the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4.

Lotulelei was picked the most times (13) overall, but both Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher (35%) and Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel (33%) were picked more frequently when available.

Overall, there are five players with picked-available rates between 24-35% at the No. 4 slot for Philadelphia. That’s by far the most tightly contested among the top seven. And if folks recall, Milliner was an early favorite here as well.

[Related: Hooray! NFL Network and ESPN agree not to tip draft picks via Twitter]

NFL News: Browns trade Emmanuel Acho to Philadelphia for Dion Lewis

In a move that is being painted as “Chip Kelly remaking his roster,” the Cleveland Browns have acquired running back Dion Lewis from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

A fifth-round pick of the Eagles in 2011, Lewis lost backup duties in Philly to Bryce Brown during training camp last season. At just 22 years of age, Lewis has averaged 4.75 yards per carry on 36 career carries. The 5-foot-8-inch, 190-pound back will push Montario Hardesty for the change-of-pace role behind workhorse Trent Richardson in Cleveland.

“Dion is a back who runs with very good quickness and vision,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. “He is a promising young player who will add depth, which is extremely important at that position.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Lewis was “too small” for Chip Kelly’s offense with the Eagles.

“Dion had an extremely productive college career and responded well in his limited chances with the Eagles,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “We felt this would be a good opportunity for him and us, and we are happy that Dion is now a member of the Browns.” 

In 2012, Acho went down in Cleveland’s second preseason game with an undisclosed injury and never returned. A sixth-round pick out of Texas, he was going to be a reserve on defense and play special teams. Given the additions at linebacker this past off-season, coupled with his penchant for getting swallowed up by linemen in college, the 22-year old was not guaranteed a roster spot.

This transaction was first reported by DraftBrowns.com’s Ryan Alton.

[Related: As the highest-paid player on the Browns, is Joe Thomas’ value diminishing?]

NFL News: Browns’ Michael Lombardi to have title changed to General Manager

It was a bit of a tongue twister for Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to say “Vice President of Player Personnel” in the news conference when Mike Lombardi was hired. At least that’s what I assumed when he kept referring to Lombardi as the Browns’ new GM.

Well, now it appears that the confusion will be gone as Pro Football Talk reports that the Browns will change it.

As for Ray Farmer being the new Assistant GM, here’s the scoop. Farmer is a former 1996 fourth round draft pick out of Duke. He played for the Eagles from 1996-1998 and was most recently the Director of Pro Personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs.

[Related: The Browns, analytics, and finding market inefficiencies as an organization]

 

Philadelphia Eagles and Lurie taking shots at Cleveland Browns and Joe Banner?

The Chip Kelly hiring in Philly was seemingly linked to Cleveland and it could have stood to reason that it was just Cleveland-born negativity and paranoia driving that bus. Now that Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles are talking about their newest head coaching hire, Chip Kelly, it appears that there might be just a little bit of gamesmanship between the Eagles and the Browns, if not some outright loathing for the former partnership according to Paul Domowitch.

There are a few things that could potentially going on here. First of all the relationship between Lurie and Banner could truly be as sour as Domowitch indicates it could possibly be. That doesn’t seem all that far-fetched.

From a Browns perspective, this might also mean that Haslam and Banner’s instincts about Chip Kelly might have been right where Cleveland was only being used as a tool for leverage. If you’re one that thinks the Browns were smart to step away from the Kelly situation (and you think they actually did step away) then these statements about it being a two horse race might make you feel even better.

If Chip Kelly turns out to be the next great NFL coach, none of this will make anyone feel better. The Browns at least kicked the tires on the guy and got a chance to interview him, so if he becomes a success, there will always be reason to wonder what could’ve been.

If he fails on the other hand… Well, we’ll just leave that to the budding rivalry between Joe Banner and his former partner / boss.

[Related: WFNY Podcast – 2013-01-17 – Craig and TD talking Browns]

“Chud” may be the man, but the Cleveland Browns were played by Chip Kelly

And I have been whining that there hasn’t been much to write about…..

CHIP KELLYHere I was, sitting in the Kansas City airport, waiting for a flight home, perusing Twitter, and ESPN’s Chris Mortensen drops a bomb of atomic proportions: The Philadelphia Eagles will name Oregon’s Chip Kelly as their next head coach.

Wh-wh-what?

I was going to try and not be reactionary to the news, but I just can’t. Let us recap what has happened:

New Browns bossman Jimmy Haslam and his handpicked CEO Joe Banner can tell you all day long that Kelly wasn’t there first choice, but it was clear that he was. The two went to Arizona, met with him for seven hours plus a two-hour dinner, the day after Kelly’s Ducks dispatched the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl. There was no doubt – their full court press was on. We were led to believe that Haslam was not going to be outbid by anyone for Kelly’s services. As I wrote last week, Haslam and Banner had all of their eggs in Kelly’s basket, thought they had him, yet left Arizona without a deal in place. Kelly went on to meet for another full day interview with Philadelphia owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, who is all that remains from the Reid/Banner era front office. Like with the Browns, the Eagles were reportedly rebuffed by Kelly and his agent and had to go back to the drawing board.

[Read more...]

NFL News: Philadelphia Eagles land Chip Kelly

A shocker today from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen-

The Browns of course were in on the Chip Kelly circus immediately after Oregon’s win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Following a weekend of wining and dining from the Browns, Eagles and Bills, Chip Kelly announced he was staying at Oregon.

So what changed? And could the Browns have approached Kelly one last time before giving the keys to Berea to Rob Chudzinski?

You can be sure there is more to this story to eventually come out.

[Related: 2013 NFL mock draft has the Browns selecting...]

Browns contribute to Deadspin naming Erie PA the NFL’s most tortured TV market

Many of our friends down in Columbus know what it’s like to not know exactly which games will be on TV every week. I’m sure it’s a pain in the neck, but know that it could be worse. Apparently being caught between the Bills, Browns, Steelers, Eagles and Lions in varied proportions has made Erie Pennsylvania the most tortured NFL TV market according to Deadspin.

Sweet, sweet victory! Fifty-four percent of Erie’s Sunday afternoon games involved one of 2012′s s****y teams, including 10 Bills games (63 percent of Buffalo’s Sunday afternoon games) and nine Browns games (56 percent). Despite being further west, Erie still managed to pick up four Eagles games (33 percent) and four Jets games (29 percent); what’s more, Erie wandered a little close to the Midwest and got hit with three Lions games (25 percent). To top it all off, the city got only nine Steelers games, just 75 percent of the team’s Sunday afternoon total.

I have known people from Erie all my life and I know that it used to be a much stronger Browns market. Obviously the Steelers have made inroads there since the 90s when the Browns were (even more) irrelevant. In all seriousness, this is one of the battlegrounds where Jimmy Haslam can pick up some marginal Browns fans. There is a history of Browns fans in Erie at least historically. Maybe he can find a way to re-ignite it. Plus, if the Browns were a good and exciting team, they would no longer become a knock on the TV.

[Related: Mike Polk blasts Browns coaching search with (tragic) comedy]

NFL News: Chip Kelly is staying at Oregon

The news that was expected for the last few hours appears to be here. Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that Chip Kelly will indeed return to Oregon.

Schefter doesn’t even mention the Browns in his tweet. So the Browns can now officially move on to the rest of the board of candidates.

[Related: Browns mishandling media during coaching search]

Reports: Browns rebooting head coach search without Chip Kelly

What a difference two days and a lunch running into dinner makes.

The Browns’ contingency has left Arizona where they interviewed Chip Kelly on Friday among many others this week. According to various reports, including ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, they are heading back to Cleveland to regroup and continue the coaching search with Kelly’s name crossed off the list.

This too, from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, seems to hammer it home.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who originally reported that the Browns and Kelly were close to an agreement, says that super-booster Phil Knight is pulling Kelly back to Oregon.

So, where do the Browns go from here? Bill O’Brien and Doug Marrone, who the Browns interviewed as well, are now off the board in addition to Kelly. That leaves former Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton as the two candidates the Browns have interviewed that are still in play.

It’s certainly possible that the Browns open the search back up again with several other viable candidates still out there.

[Related: NFL Rumor: Chip Kelly could stay at Oregon]

NFL Rumor: Chip Kelly could stay at Oregon

After a back-and-forth 48 hours where he was heading to Cleveland and then to Philadelphia, Chip Kelly could be staying at the University of Oregon, according to at least two reports on Twitter on Sunday morning.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane got the rumor mill heated up with his tweet, speculating there’s as much of a chance Kelly stays at Oregon as his reported leap to the NFL. And The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot followed up with a report from Michael Lomardi, also a candidate for the Browns executive opening, that Kelly might lean toward staying in school.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport followed up to McLane’s tweet in saying that this could be unlikely, considering the NCAA sanctions the Oregon program is likely to face in the near future.

With Doug Marrone locked into a deal with the Buffalo Bills, it’s likely to be a continued scramble on Twitter for all possible breaking news related to Chip Kelly. We’ll keep you updated with all of the latest reports we see. Stay tuned to WFNY.

[Related: NFL News: Doug Marrone agrees to join Bills]

Rumors: Kelly, Eagles close to agreement; Browns meet again with Marrone

Two hot rumors just hit the Cleveland Twitter-sphere. First, SportsRadio 94 WIP’s Brain Startare out in Philadelphia has a potentially dynamite rumor for Cleveland Browns fans:

https://twitter.com/brianstartare/status/287748074875531264

The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot just retweeted his rumor about Oregon head coach Chip Kelly closing in on a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. As Cabot had just pointed out, the Eagles and Kelly were running late on their scheduled lunch — he had not yet began his dinner appointment out in Arizona with the Browns.

Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network remains a must-follow on the case, as he added these new details about the Browns’ continued pursuit of Syracuse coach Doug Marrone:

Rapoport appeared to be very careful to clarify that the Browns are still deciding who their favorite candidate is.

Eagles report and XM host Adam Caplan added to the story with his tweet, saying that the Eagles appear more confident in their chances of landing Kelly two hours ago, than compared to when their lunch began.

We’ll keep you updated with the latest. But if Startare’s report is true, it could be a heartbreaker for many Cleveland fans. But regardless, Rapoport’s rumor indicates the Browns still aren’t as set on either one of the candidates just yet.

[Related: NFL Rumor: ‘Be ready for something to happen tonight’ with Browns, Chip Kelly]

NFL Draft: Browns currently picking 6th

According to the experts at NEPatriotsDraft.com 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]