Rumors? Just the facts, please!

With the talent acquisition plan being utilized by general manager Tom Heckert, the Browns could be on the verge of being relevant outside the Cleveland area, and chatter about the team has sharply increased.

Surrounding nearly every team in professional sports are rumors and speculation. In Cleveland the situation is much the same, despite the national media seemingly looking at the Browns as a ‘joke' for the better part of 13 years.

With the talent acquisition plan being utilized by general manager Tom Heckert, the Browns could be on the verge of being relevant outside the Cleveland area, and chatter about the team has sharply increased.

The Browns………………

- negotiations with rookie RB Trent Richardson knowing the likelihood of them securing the offset clause was a moot point once selections around Richardson did not have the clause included in the deals. After working through some additional contract language, a deal was finalized.

- anticipate a healthy battle for the backup RB spot behind Richardson. RB Montario Hardesty has something to prove, he is healthy and seeks the opportunity to gain a primary role in the Browns offense. RB Brandon Jackson, a free agent acquisition prior to the 2011 season returns from a major toe injury which sidelined him for the entire season.

- negotiations with rookie QB Brandon Weeden have not gone as swiftly, partially due to the limited discussions the two parties have had. The Browns have remained steadfast in only offering to partially guarantee the fourth year of the Weeden contract proposal, which is not out of the ordinary for the 22nd player selected in the draft. Despite the obvious issue in the negotiations, theOBR has learned the Browns are willing to move somewhat on the partial guarantee, but are highly unlikely to fully secure the fourth year without getting something back in return during the process.

- would like the full class of drafted, undrafted and veteran players participating to be in-house on Tuesday, for the start of training camp for those. The Browns are not overly concerned if Weeden misses a day or two as a contract is ironed out, and would be disappointed if the contract situation plays out past Wednesday.

- Weeden is expected to be the Browns starting QB, but veteran Colt McCoy is headed to camp to compete mightily. The Browns will be disappointed if Weeden does not gain and earn the starting role in camp on the practice field. McCoy is said to be in the best physical condition he has been since joining the Browns in 2010.

- as the 2012 NFL Draft approached, the Browns had RB Trent Richardson as a top-three player, with Weeden and RT Mitchell Schwartz as first round talents.

- believe RT Mitchell Schwartz could be a key for the Browns offense. The staff believes the play of the guards (Jason Pi nkston and Shawn Lauvao) will improve following a season of experience and an off-season in the strength and conditioning program. Schwartz steps into a critical area where endless struggles at RT squeezed an already non-executing offense. Less TE coverage on the strong-side could help enable a Browns offense looking to run the ball and attack the intermediate to long passing game.

- did have an eye on selecting Baylor WR Kendall Wright. If Wright would have been on the board at #22 (went to Tennessee at #20), the Browns were looking in that direction.

- were looking at acquiring another selection in the first round, if Wright would have been selected to select QB Brandon Weeden. The Browns had targeted Weeden early in the process as a big arm, impact type RB for the Browns system.

- are prepared to let the youth and depth at the DT position to earn their roles, while starting DT Phil Taylor recovers from pectoral surgery early in the summer. Holdovers Scott Paxson and Brian Schaefering, along with rookies John Hughes and Billy Winn will get significant looks.

- believe the acquisitions of DE's Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker will help a Browns defense that struggled against the run and were mediocre getting pressure on the QB. Parker will line-up at DE on passing downs, while Rucker, a run-stuffing DE will get a look at DT with the Taylor injury.

- are quite interested to watch the competition play itself out at OLB. With the suspension of veteran Scott Fujita, Kaluka Maiava will get the opportunity to gain a starting role. Maiava is expected to be pressed by rookie OLB's, James-Michael Johnson and Emmanuel Acho. Johnson is a quick and hard-hitting player with the ability to play inside or out, but questionable in pass coverage. Whereas Acho is athletic, fast, quick and fluid. Looking to add quickness and physicality, the rookies are expected to get a lengthy look.

- say all the right things regarding veteran CB Sheldon Brown, but it is undeniable that CB's Dimitri Patterson and Buster Skrine will be evaluated closely in the event either player displays he is obviously playing on a level above the incumbent.

- defensive coordinator, Dick Jauron is happy as a pig in **** that safety T.J. Ward is healthy and ready to make a statement in Jauron's defense. Ward's athleticism could be a solid match in the defensive scheme.

- again are eagerly awaiting to watch the development of second-year S Eric Hagg. The Browns were impressed with his play late in the season and believe a season in the strength and conditioning program, as well as a season of experience will take his game to the next level.

- are still very happy with the addition of WR Josh Gordon in the Supplemental draft. When asked about Gordon's progress, a team source tells theOBR, "The young man is impressive and has worked hard on understanding the art of running routes and gaining separation. You guys are going to be surprised with this young man on and off the field, the sky is the limit."

The OBR Top Stories