Spanning the AFC North
As the Cleveland Browns prepare for their three-day mandatory minicamp this week – the final time the team will be together before the start of training camp in July, the team continues to tweak the roster and purge it of marginal players signed by Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi.
Last week it was the release of outside linebacker Quentin Groves, brought it last year because he knew Ray Horton’s defense. With Horton now in Tennessee and Groves limited last season due to injuries, there was no longer a spot on the roster for him.
On Monday, it was safety Jamoris Slaughter, who the Browns drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft after Slaughter missed all but three games of his senior season at Notre Dame. Slaughter spent all of last season in injured reserve as he tried to come back from an Achilles tendon tear.
The move leaves just four players from the 2013 draft: linebacker Barkevious Mingo, cornerback Leon McFaddene (who may not have a spot on the roster come September), seventh-round defensive lineman Armonty Bryant and seventh-round offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey.
Quite an impressive haul from the first (and only) draft from Banner and Lombardi in Cleveland.
The Browns also signed offensive lineman Alex Parsons, who played 16 games with Oakland in 2012 (which makes us wonder about ankle injury to Joel Bitonio) and Jake Rogers, a punter and kicker.
In other Browns news, since Johnny Manziel is a modern-day Joe Namath, who better than the Hall-of-Famer himself to offer some advice to the rookie quarterback?
On Monday, Namath gave an interview to NFL Total Access where he stood up for Manziel.
“I do know this about Johnny Manziel: I haven’t seen anyone perform any better than Johnny the last two seasons on that football field,” Namath said. “And I do know that we love entertainment. Football is a sport, but it is show biz. It is entertainment. And Johnny – he’s gotta live his life, man.
“I’ve been to Vegas, you guys have probably been to Vegas. Give the man a little bit of room. But, in his position, he’s not entitled to be a regular guy, 22 years old, 21 years old. Everything’s blowing out of whack.
“I’d love him on my team, let me just say that.”
As the Browns prepare to wrap-up this segment of off-season work, it seems like a good time to check in on the rest of the division and see what is happening.
In Cincinnati, the contract signed by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has the Bengals wondering what to do with their own quarterback, Andy Dalton, who will be up for a new contract after the 2014 season.
According to Paul Dehner of The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals may be looking to give Dalton a deal that would allow the team to walk away in a few years without any financial angst. Dalton could be looking at a deal similar to ones signed by Jay Cutler, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford, and the Bengals may have a hard decision on their hands unless Dalton is willing to play ball. (And not fumble the ball in the process.)
“It’s going to be hard for (his agent) to take less than $18 million unless Dalton is the engine driving the train and saying, ‘Hey, let’s not try to break the bank on this one. I don’t need every last dollar. I just need to be paid fairly or have a reasonable salary,’ ” Joel Corry, a former agent who helped found Premier Sports & Entertainment, is quoted as saying in the article. “When you get a guy like that it’s easier to get a deal done.”
We’ve seen Dalton play the past three years; Browns fans everywhere should be hoping the Bengals work out a new deal with him.
At least Joe Flacco helped Baltimore win a Super Bowl before he crippled the team’s salary cap with a new deal.
In Pittsburgh, former Kent State running back Dri Archer is turning heads during OTAs, making people realize that he can play the game.
“It’s crazy when you have a guy that is that fast but is able to stay on his feet,” Purdue running back coach Jafar Williams, who coached Archer for two years at KSU, told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s a special player. People are going to be shocked to see how productive he is going to be. I predict he’ll probably have two or three kick returns for a touchdown and maybe even be Rookie of the Year.”
The thought of that makes us a bit nervous about the Browns having to face him twice a year.
Finally, in Baltimore rookie defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan is reportedly “flashing a lot” during the team’s OTAs.
Jernigan, who fell into the second round after having a diluted urine sample on a drug test at the NFL Combine that he attributed to “overhydration,” is looking to fill the hole created by the departure of Arthur Jones in free agency. According to a story on the team’s website, Jernigan’s strength is his ability to “beat offensive lineman off the ball and make disruptive plays in the backfield.”
We’re sure Alex Mack will have something to say about that come this fall.
(Photos courtesy of The Associated Press and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)