Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Cleveland is title town once again!

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We had planned to write something following the Cleveland Cavaliers claiming the first title in franchise history – and the first in Cleveland since 1964 – but, frankly, the game was so exhausting we had nothing left on Sunday night.

Then the plan was to do something during the day today, but it is still hard to put the emotions into words as we honestly had started to doubt if we would ever see the day that a Cleveland team won a championship.

We’ve been there for just about every disappointment since the Cleveland Browns won the city’s last title in 1964. The Miracle of Richfield that broke along with Jim Chones’ foot. Red Right 88. The AFC Championship Game losses to the Denver Broncos. The playoff frustrations against the Chicago Bulls. Game 7 of the 1997 World Series.

All of it bad. Until last night.

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Can the Cavs avoid another Cleveland moment?

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The Cleveland Cavaliers did the improbable on Thursday night in forcing a Game 7 against the Golden State Warriors.

Tonight, they have the opportunity to do the seemingly impossible in delivering Cleveland its first major pro championship since 1964.

On that December afternoon at Municipal Stadium, the Cleveland Browns defeated the supposedly invincible Baltimore Colts – a similar situation facing the Cavs against a Warriors team that many were calling the NBA’s best ever after a 73-win regular season.

Tonight’s game will be just the second time since 1964 that a Cleveland team has been in a title-deciding game and, again, the situation has a familiar feel to it.

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Cleveland Browns: 5 options to replace Alex Mack

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While it came as no surprise that Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack opted out of the final three years of his contract on Wednesday to become a free agent, that doesn’t mean the Browns have an easy solution in hand.

The easiest path is to simply suck it up and sign Mack to a contract that makes him the highest paid center in the NFL, which is what he is most likely going to be, whether it is in Cleveland or somewhere else. With around $48 million in salary cap space, that is a realistic option for the Browns, especially since Mack may be open to staying in town.

A new deal for Mack will reportedly make him the league’s first $10 million a year center, surpassing the deal of current Miami Dolphins’ center Mike Pouncey, who is the current top-paid center with an average annual salary of $8.95 million. Mack is tougher and better than Pouncey, so giving Mack a contract that exceeds Pouncey’s should not be an issue.

However, if the Browns pay Mack it could make it difficult to come up with a contract to keep right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who is also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 9. But, similar to the situation with Schwartz, the options of replacing Mack are not that enticing.

If we have seen the last of Mack in a Cleveland uniform, we offer five options to replace him in our latest at Dawg Pound Daily.

Could the Cleveland Browns target George Iloka?

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With Monday’s decision to not place the franchise or transition tag on Tashaun Gipson, the Cleveland Browns may find themselves in the market for a free safety when free agency opens on March 9.

But unlike right tackle, where there are limited options for replacing Mitchell Schwartz if he leaves, the Browns may have a ready replacement just down the road in George Iloka of the Cincinnati Bengals.

While their first preference should be to retain their own players in free agency, if that doesn’t work out with Gipson then Iloka could be an attractive option for the Browns. He knows the division, knows head coach Hue Jackson and would represent the opportunity to weaken a division rival.

To find out more, check out our latest at Dawg Pound Daily.

Donte Whitner once again calls out Justin Gilbert

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With so much focus falling on quarterback Johnny Manziel, cornerback Justin Gilbert has flown a bit under the radar.

While not as spectacular a failure as Manziel, Gilbert has been every bit as much of a bust after two years in the NFL as Manziel.

Manziel’s time in Cleveland will be coming to an end next week when the new NFL league year begins and the Browns can release him, but Gilbert may have one more opportunity to salvage his career in Cleveland.

Of course, as it has been since the beginning, it is up to Gilbert to want it.

To find out the latest, check out our post at Dawg Pound Daily.

Cleveland Browns should avoid Colin Kaepernick

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The Cleveland Browns are expected to select yet another quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft, if not in the first round then at some point during the weekend.

Holding the No. 2 overall selection, the Browns should have their choice of one of the two top quarterbacks – presumed to be Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz – or, if they don’t like what they see, could dip into the second tier of prospects, a group that includes Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Michigan State’s Connor Cook, among others.

Of course, for a team that has been searching for its next franchise quarterback for 23 years, the Browns will always find themselves linked to any quarterback that has fallen from grace.

Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.

To see why he would be a bad fit for the Browns, visit our latest at Dawg Pound Daily.

Cleveland Browns: 10 options if Mitchell Schwartz leaves

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The Cleveland Browns may not have much going for them, but one unquestioned area of strength on the team is the offensive line.

Of course, as luck would have it, the start of free agency on March 9 may change all of that.

The Browns are facing the possibility of seeing both starting center Alex Mack and starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz hit free agency. While executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said that the Browns have “identified the guys that can really help us and fit within the schemes we’ll be running,” you never what will happen when a player has the opportunity to speak with another team.

While the Browns may believe that they have a contingency plan if Mack leaves in second-year player Cameron Erving (although the person lining up behind Erving may not agree), no such option is currently on the roster, which puts Schwartz in an enviable negotiating position.

Knowing that, if the Browns do lose Schwartz they will need to turn to either the draft or free agency to fill the vacancy at right tackle, paths that are certainly no guarantee of success.

Visit our latest at Dawg Pound Daily to see 10 players – five in the draft and five in free agency – that the Browns could look at as the team’s next right tackle.

David Blatt firing the latest “Only in Cleveland” moment

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As Cleveland fans we’ve come to realize that we can’t expect championships from the local sports teams.

But that doesn’t mean things are ever boring.

The latest example came on Friday, when the Cleveland Cavaliers firmly took hold of the “most dysfunctional team in town” title by firing head coach David Blatt at the midway point of his second season.

In doing so, the Cavs are just the third team in the past 40 seasons fire their head coach the season after an NBA Finals appearance. They also become the first team in NBA history to fire a head coach with a winning percentage as high as Blatt’s, which is at .732 after Thursday’s win against the Los Angeles Clippers.

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Cleveland Browns sign Gary Barnidge to an extension

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The Cleveland Browns signed tight end Gary Barnidge to a contract extension on Thursday, the team announced on its website.

The news mean that, for one day at least, it is all not doom, dysfunction and despair in Berea.

Barnidge, who is in his third year in Cleveland and seventh year in the NFL, has a team high 60 receptions and seven touchdowns, and is second on the team in receiving yards with 817 (those numbers also put him third among all tight ends.)

To get the rest of the story, visit our latest at Dawg Pound Daily.

Mike Pettine: It’s hard to be unified at this point

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Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine met with the media on Monday and for the first time publicly acknowledged that there are problems within team headquarters in Berea.

Namely, not everyone is pulling in the same direction when it comes to turning things around for the 2-10 club.

While Pettine did not go into specifics, it seems likely that the source of the division centers around (or at the very least includes) quarterback Johnny Manziel.

The coaching staff, which knows football, clearly has one opinion on what to do with Manziel, while the front office and/or business side, which is interested in moving as many No. 2 jerseys as possible, has another.

For the rest of the story, check out our latest at Dawg Pound Daily.

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