Trade down possibility on table

Browns general manager Tom Heckert with local media Thursday, days before start of free agency to answer questions, however vague, on the Browns' plans.

BEREA -- Peyton Manning will not be joining the Cleveland Browns, but the Browns like four quarterbacks in April's NFL Draft, where a trade down remains a possibility.

That was the word from Browns General Manager Tom Heckert, who made his first appearance with the local media since he had heart surgery after the Senior Bowl. Heckert did not want to go into details about his procedure, but said he felt good -- and he looked good.

Not surprisingly, Heckert offered few specifics about the Browns plans, but he did address questions about a number of topics -- including the draft.

"We feel very comfortable being at four," Heckert said. "We feel very comfortable moving back and getting more picks."

A move down would seem to mesh with Heckert's statement that the Browns like four quarterbacks, including Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. He didn't specify the others, but spoke highly of Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden.

As for reports that the Browns told the Rams they were not willing to give up both their first-round picks this year to move up to the second spot, Heckert scoffed. Sort of. He said he'd had talks with a lot of teams, but none were serious.

"Never say never about anything," he said of giving up two No. 1s.

He then admitted that the Browns talked seriously with the Rams two years ago about moving up to get the top pick. That would have been Sam Bradford; instead the team stayed where it was and took Colt McCoy in the third round.

The team is not down on McCoy and is in "wait and see" mode regarding running back Peyton Hillis, who will be a free agent March 13 if the Browns do not re-sign him. He also reiterated the point that the Browns will not lavish money in free agency, but be judicious with whom they sign.

That might slow chatter that the Browns will pursue quarterback Matt Flynn of Green Bay. Flynn will be the best-paid quarterback once he hits the open market.

"We're not going to go crazy in free agency," Heckert said. "Are there guys we're targeting? Certainly. Whether we get them remains to be seen."

He mentioned Scott Fujita and Dmitri Patterson as good examples of the kinds of guys the Browns will sign, players who fit needs and contribute but don't cost a lot. Which would indicate defensive end Mario Williams will not be on the target list.

"You don't win football games by signing a bunch of free agents," Heckert said, adding it is his belief there is always a reason a player is let go by his team.

Many questions dealt with the quarterback position, and Heckert said the team still believes McCoy can succeed.

"We're not down on Colt McCoy," he said. "I want to make that clear."

He added it's the team's job to "help him out."

He called Griffin a "super athlete" who is "super fast." He called Luck "a phenomenal athlete for a guy his size."

And he said Tannehill is "untapped."

"He's fairly new to the position," Heckert said. "Big kid. Strong arm. He looks like a quarterback. He's got a lot of upside."

Weeden is 28, but Heckert said "if he can play six years I might not be here then."

He said Weeden looks at his age as a positive, saying he is mature and has been through a lot.

"I like him, I like him a lot," Heckert said.

Heckert will attend Pro Days for Weeden and Griffin, but was not asked about Tannehill or Luck.

As for Manning, Heckert simply said: "That's not a direction we're going to go."

Regarding other players, Heckert said offensive tackle Tony Pashos had ankle surgery this week, and the team is discussing the future of guard Eric Steinbach, who missed 2011 after having back surgery. Steinbach is due $12.25 million the next two years. He could be a candidate to have his contract restructured.


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