Position Battles and Contracts

Our network friends at TheInsiders have provided us with a wrap-up of these two subjects from the first week of camp. It's always good to get another point of view, so here's another take on where these stand...

POSITION BATTLES UPDATE

QUARTERBACK: Browns quarterbacks started training camp saying all the right things about the competition for the job. Kelly Holcomb said he doesn't think about results, just playing well. Tim Couch said he's glad for the competition. Couch admitted, though, that he worried the competition could divide the team. The team is depending on a professional approach from each player to avoid that problem.
Early returns on the derby were mixed, as neither Couch nor Holcomb looked clearly ahead. If that continues it could favor Couch. Butch Davis has said the champion must be knocked out, and Couch is the incumbent starter. The first true test will come when the Browns practice against and scrimmage the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 1 and 2.

CENTER: First-round pick Jeff Faine has been written in to start at center, but with him out of camp Shaun O'Hara moved from right guard to center. The biggest difference, O'Hara said: "Probably just trying to get used to playing football with someone's hands up your butt."

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Steve Heiden vs. Darnell Sanders for starting TE -- At first it appeared that the Browns wanted Sanders to win the job, but Heiden was lining up with the starters and doing a good job catching passes early in camp. If this continues, the preseason trade last year to give up a seventh-round choice to acquire him will have been a smart one.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Barry Gardner remains ahead of Andra Davis at middle linebacker, though Davis will continue to challenge to start. ... Kevin Bentley and Ben Taylor are starting outside, and with Chaun Thompson not signed the first week the pair had a firm hold on the job. ... Anthony Henry missed a chance to grab hold of the starting corner job right away by straining a hamstring on the first day. That injury gave Lewis Sanders a chance to show what he could do.


THE CONTRACT CONUNDRUM

The team asked its draft picks to sign five-year deals. The draft picks balked because that meant delaying free agency one year. The resulting spat meant none of the team's picks were in camp for the first five days of camp.

Carmen Policy said that one reason the team wants five years is because in some cases it reached in the draft (Chaun Thompson in round two, long snapper Ryan Pontbriand in round five would be two educated guesses). Policy said the Browns reached because the team believes so much in the picks, but it was still unusual to hear a team president admit to reaching.

One agent thinks the NFLPA should take up the length of late-round contracts in the next CBA. The agent reasons late-round picks have no leverage to start, and the Browns add to the leverage by pressuring them on the fifth year. He proposes that the longest deal for a pick taken after the third round should be three years.

Daniel Snyder had an indirect effect on the Browns' contract talks. When Snyder raided the Jets and took restricted free agents Laveranues Coles and Chad Morton and unrestricted free agents Randy Thomas and John Hall, Policy noticed. He saw the Jets as a team like the Browns, one that was building. And he didn't want a team he and Butch Davis believed would be good to be picked apart in three years.


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