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Archive for the category “NFL free agency”

The Browns are not Duke & Duke

It’s all over for the Cleveland Browns.

That’s the only conclusion we can come to judging from the reaction pouring in from some corners of Browns nation after the team failed to “do something” on the opening day of free agency in the NFL.

Apparently to some fans, the fact the Browns did not sign someone, anyone, in the first 20 minutes of free agency means the team just isn’t trying.

In this warped view, team president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert should be more like Mortimer and Randolph Duke, riding around in a limousine while trying to lure free agents inside with promises of money, clothes, nice houses and “whiskey, all you want.”

Head over to The Cleveland Fan for the rest of the story.

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Browns need to pass on Matt Flynn

Now that the Green Bay Packers have decided not to franchise quarterback Matt Flynn, the speculation will heat up as to the destination of the one-game wonder, with Cleveland being a landing spot in too many people’s minds.

So here’s the only primer that Browns fans will need as far as Flynn is concerned:

  • He has started two NFL games in his four-year NFL career.
  • His most recent start, and the one that generated all the buzz, was in Week 17 against Detroit. Flynn passed for 480 yards and six touchdowns against the Lions.
  • Detroit was the 22nd-ranked pass defense in the NFL this season.
  • The Lions secondary sucked, with former Browns cornerback Eric Wright giving up 79 receptions for 879 yards and five touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.
  • Detroit’s secondary fell apart late in the season, thanks to injuries to starter Chris Houston, nickel back Aaron Berry and free safety Louis Delmas.
  • In addition to Flynn’s game, the Lions gave up 307 yards passing to Aaron Rodgers in Week 12, 338 yards to Drew Brees in Week 13, 345 yards to Carson Palmer in Week 15 and 466 yards to Brees in the playoffs.
  • At LSU, he couldn’t beat out JaMarcus Russell, who turned into one of the biggest NFL busts of all time.

Basically, Flynn is Kelly Holcomb, who Browns fans all remember for passing for 429 yards and three touchdowns in a playoff loss against Pittsburgh in January of 2003.

Imagine how much money Holcomb would have made on the free agent market after that game. Now imagine if the Browns had given him a big-money contract and turned him into the starting quarterback?

Do we really want the team to make that same mistake with Flynn?

(Photo by The Associated Press)

Phase One Begins for the Browns

The Cleveland Browns started phase one of their off-season on Monday, signing linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a reported five-year, $42.5 million contract that includes $19 million in guaranteed money.

“D’Qwell is thrilled with the deal,” Brian Mackler, Jackson’s agent, told The Plain Dealer. “He wanted to finish his career in Cleveland and this enables him to do that.”

Well we would certainly hope that Jackson is thrilled – that’s healthy chunk of change to hand out to a player who has only been healthy for a full season once in the past three years. But once the team decided it wanted to keep Jackson, they were going to have to devote some of their salary cap to him, the only question being how much.

Hopefully the team played the right side of the risk on this one.

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The D’Qwell Jackson Dilemma

Free agency in the National Football League isn’t exactly free, as the Cleveland Browns are learning when it comes to linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.

A free agent, Jackson finished the 2011 season with a team-leading 158 tackles and an NFL-leading 116 tackles. He says he would like to stay with the Browns.

“Do I want to be back? This is where I started,” Jackson told The Plain Dealer. “That’s not even an afterthought to me. Yes, I want to be with the Browns, no question about it. I’m here in this locker room and I like the guys I’m playing with right now. That’s all that matters.”

And general manager Tom Heckert has said the team wants to keep Jackson, saying near the end of the season that “You can pretty much say (Jackson’s) going to be here.”

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Would Ward look good in Orange & Brown?

As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to cut players and restructure contracts to try and get under the NFL salary cap before free agency begins on March 13, the team may have an unexpected move up its sleeve.

According to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora, the Steelers may release Hines Ward, a 14-year veteran at wide receiver.

Ward was the third wide receiver last year behind Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, and put up his lowest receiving numbers since his rookie season – 46 receptions for 381 yards and two touchdowns (basically he was Mohamed Massaquoi).

If the report is true and the Steelers release Ward before his March 1 roster bonus is due, should the Browns take a look at bringing Ward to town? While his best days are clearly behind him, the thought of Ward joining the Browns in a mentoring role is, we have to admit, intriguing.

Ward knows how to play the game, he knows the other teams in the AFC North, and there’s little doubt he could teach Greg Little, Massaquoi, Carlton Mitchell and Jordan Norwood some important lessons about playing wide receiver at the NFL level.

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Browns start making some moves

Browns general manager Tom Heckert wasted no time getting back to work, signing a reported 23 undrafted free agents throughout the day on Tuesday.

As the majority of the players will probably end up as practice fodder for the veterans, we won’t spend too much time trying to analyze the signings (and WFNY has a great rundown, so why try to improve on that?)

The one positive we took from today is that Heckert and Co. obviously did their homework during the lockout. They knew which players they were going to target when the lockout ended and, once they had the OK, were able to move quickly.

That leaves us confident the Browns will be prepared and strategic when the full free agency period starts on Friday.

While the team can obviously use all the help it can get, Heckert has previously stated the Browns won’t be splashing cash around (see Charles Johnson’s six-year, $72 million deal with $30 million guaranteed as Exhibit A of reckless spending).

It would be nice if the team found another starter for the defensive line and the secondary, but they can’t go crazy with the money – they have too many other holes to fill.

We can dream about a cornerback duo of Joe Haden and Nnamdi Asomugha, but there’s no way the Browns are going to take up residence in that financial neighborhood – nor should they.

While the team does have money to spend – and will have to spend some to get to the league-mandated salary floor – we’d rather see them spend the money and effort continuing to build depth and get younger throughout the roster. Tying up a huge chunk of your salary cap in one player just doesn’t seem prudent for this team at this time.

It seems more likely that the Browns will look at the second-tier of free agents, players that are young enough to not command big money but with potential to improve – we’d rather the Browns pay players to perform for Cleveland, rather than pay them for the way they performed for their previous teams.

One player we were interested in seeing the Browns pursue was Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards, who is familiar with the 4-3 defense the Browns are going to start playing this fall.

But then River Burns alerted us to comments Edwards made on Monday about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and we started to rethink out stance a bit. While we are all for the Browns defense picking up some feisty players on defense, we have to worry about someone who might be a knucklehead.

It’s going to be an interesting weekend no matter what the Browns do. And until he shows us otherwise, we remain confident in Heckert’s ability to continue building the team.

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