Greetham: A Smart Move

The Browns first franchise tag since their return is smartly applied argues the OBR's Fred Greetham, as Phil Dawson will now return to the team he's kicked for since 1999.

BEREA—There's an old saying that says, ‘Good things come to those who wait.'

For Phil Dawson, it appears his payday has come--although, probably not the way he thought it would play out.

Dawson was to become an unrestricted free agent, but the Browns named him their franchise player, which allows them to negotiate a contract with him, while paying him between approximately $3 to 3.5 million.

Dawson is one of the best kickers in NFL history and easily could've been lost if he hit the free agent market.

The Browns confirmed Tuesday night that Dawson the first player the Browns have tagged as their franchise player since the team returned in 1999. Usually, teams don't franchise their kickers. However, in recent years the Colts franchised Adam Vinatieri and the Steelers one time franchised Jeff Reed.

Dawson kicked at the University of Texas and he and his wife, Shannon, are from Texas. With the Cowboys uncertainty at kicker, Dawson might have landed in his home state.

Dawson should have close to a 300 percent increase in his pay, as it appears he will now return for his 13th season with the Browns.

Dawson had earned $1 million a season over his last contract and although Dawson never publicly said anything about his contract situation, he silently protested by skipping the voluntary workouts and minicamps the past two seasons.

When Dawson walked off the field after closing the 2010 season on Jan. 2 with a 41-9 loss to the Steelers, his demeanor seemed to suggest he had seen his last day as a member of the Browns.

Dawson has been with the Browns since the team returned in 1999 and has eclipsed records that were set by Hall of Famer Lou Groza, who played 17 seasons with the Browns.

Dawson, in his 12th NFL seasons-- all with the Browns-- has kicked more field goals than any other kicker in Browns' history with 252. His .832 field goal percentage is the ninth-best in NFL history, which is very impressive that he's played at least half of the games he's kicked in at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Dawson is third in Browns' history with 1,063 points behind only Groza and Don Cockroft. He made 23-of-28 field goal attempts in 2010. Cockroft has 1,080 points, while Groza has 1,349.

Dawson has accomplished more place-kicking, in many respects, than Groza, who has a street named after him by the franchise. Groza was an All-Pro tackle besides being a kicker, but Dawson accomplished his mark in five less seasons.

Because the Browns have just had two winning seasons in his entire tenure, Dawson has not received much notoriety at the national level.

"It's been such a blessing all these years it's hard to put a sour note on it," Dawson said about the possibility of his leaving. "We all know, whether it's this Sunday or 10 years from now, that the day would come. So I'm not going to be bitter or angry or upset or anything. I'm just really appreciative of the opportunity to play for the Cleveland Browns."

Dawson sold his home in Westlake during last season and his children enrolled in school back in Texas.

Dawson will be 36 during the off-season, but he feels he still is kicking well.

"They're going to have to kick me out the door," he said at the end of the season. "I still feel like I'm getting better. People keep asking , ‘Are you slowing down?' I'm like, ‘No' I'd tell you if I really sensed it."

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