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In Cleveland, hope dies last

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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.

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.

If the Browns make a coaching chance, who should it be?

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The Cleveland Browns enter the month of December in a familiar position.

The team is currently residing in the basement of the AFC North Division, have lost six in a row (and 14 of their past 16 dating back to last season), and are trotting out yet another starting quarterback on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

It wouldn’t be December in Cleveland, either, without the annual call for yet another coaching change.

If head coach Mike Pettine is relieved of his duties shortly after the regular season comes to a close, whoever takes over will be the Browns’ eighth full-time head coach since the team returned in 1999, and the fourth head coach since Jimmy Haslam took over as owner in 2012.

As hard as it is to find something nice to say about former owner Art Modell, of the seven full-time head coaches he hired, he gave all but one more than two years to try to figure things out.

Let’s assume that Haslam has seen enough, though, and is ready to fill our January and February with yet another coaching search.

So who can we expect the Browns to look at?

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

Cleveland Browns: 5 best MNF games of all-time

browns jets monday night footballThe Cleveland Browns will make the 30th appearance in franchise history on Monday Night Football when they host the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow night.

It will be the first time the Browns have played on Monday night since the 2009 season, when they also hosted the Ravens. That night, the Browns dropped a 16-0 decision – the team’s 14th loss in 15 games dating back to the previous season. The Browns managed just 160 yards of offense that night and never crossed Baltimore’s 45-yard line.

Quarterback Brady Quinn, another in the never-ending line of first-round quarterbacks who have failed in Cleveland, finished the night just 13-of-31 for 99 yards while being intercepted twice.

This time, much to the chagrin of Jon Gruden and ESPN, the Browns will not be led by quarterback Johnny Manziel, who decided that acting like a spoiled teenager is more important than being a starting quarterback, but rather veteran Josh McCown. The move to demote Manziel to third string pushes him one step closer to joining Quinn on that list of failed first-round quarterbacks.

It hasn’t always been doom and gloom for the Orange and Brown on what was once the league’s lone weekly primetime game. The Browns appeared in the first Monday Night Football game in league history and carry a 15-14 record into this week’s game against the Ravens.

To get ready for the matchup, check out the five best Monday Night Football games of all-time in franchise history in our latest post at Dawg Pound Daily.

Cleveland Browns: 5 best trades of all-time

alg-frank-ryan-jpgAs the Cleveland Browns continue to see the 2015 NFL season circle the drain, one of the few bright spots has been punter Andy Lee.

Acquired in the off-season by general manager Ray Farmer (reportedly a horrible judge of talent) for just a seventh-round draft pick, Lee has consistently shown why he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection while punting for the San Francisco 49ers.

Lee is fifth in the NFL with 49 punts (not a surprise for an offensive that loves nothing more than a three-and-out, especially with Johnny Manziel at quarterback), is sixth in both average and net average, and is tied for fifth in punts inside the 20 (only two off the leaders).

A few weeks back we had a discussion with Seth Neale (@Marbles7th) on Twitter, who posited that the trade for Lee was the best trade in franchise history. That got us thinking about the trades that the Browns have made over the years.

Generally it is often the bad ones that most fans remember – trading Bobby Mitchell for the right to draft Ernie Davis, trading Paul Warfield for the right to draft Mike Phipps, trading Chip Banks for the right to draft Mike Junkin – but there had to be some moves the worked out for the Browns, right?

To see who made the list of the five best trades of all-time for the Cleveland Browns, visit our latest post at Dawg Pound Daily.

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