Heading into Training Camp, one of the primary objectives of the Cleveland Browns was to get all their draft choices in on time.
All the draft selections were in camp on time, except for first-round selection William Green.
Negotiations with Green¹s agent took longer than expected and were very close to turning ugly, according to sources close to the team.
"Throughout the feeling out process, we never envisioned that we would run into the complications that we did in getting him (Green) signed," the source said. "We offered them a contract that went well beyond that of the contract signed by the 16th pick in the 2001 NFL draft. We wanted him here on time. He is an important part of this team, and we thought that we conveyed that to Condon."
"In the end, we are generally happy to get the negotiations behind us. William (Green) is on the field where he should be and we can get ready for the season."
Green added from the Browns practice facility this past week that he was happy to get the contract behind him and wants to let his play on the field show what type of player he is.
On KJ: The Browns have stated that once they completed the negotiations with Green, they would soon after work with Condon to secure a new deal for Johnson.
From what we¹ve been told, the negotiations between Condon and the Browns regarding Johnson may be easier than the just completed deal for Green.
"There are some numbers that are an obvious starting point for both parties involved. It is known what KJ has accomplished during his first three seasons in the league," the source said. "A rumor has been out in the media that KJ was offered a three-year contract for about $12-million dollars. That rumor isn¹t right on the money, but it is not too far off. One stumbling block could be the signing bonus and incentives that have been mentioned."
Simply put, the Browns know that KJ is worth $4-million dollars a season, which is the going rate for a wide receiver of his caliber. He will not get short-changed, he will be reasonable. He wants to stay in Cleveland. KJ has been in Cleveland through the bad times, the future is looking very promising, and he wants to be part of the winning.
There is no doubt that the contracts signed by comparable receivers this off-season will have a direct impact on the negotiations between the Browns and Condon.
"Look at some of the contracts that wide receivers have signed this
off-season. You tell me if KJ doesn¹t have the same or better numbers than
Johnnie Morton or Marty Booker. They (the Browns) are going to have to pay him
in that same price range and a signing bonus of between four-to-five million
dollars", the source said.
The Miller Files: In very short order, the Browns will announce that they have reworked the contract of linebacker Jamir Miller.
The Browns and Miller have come a long way since the agent for the linebacker informed the team that he wanted to renegotiate his client¹s contract, starting with what is believed to be a $12-million dollar signing bonus.
It is true, the Browns did see if there was an interest in Miller prior to the draft. League sources have indicated to Bernie¹s Insiders that the Browns were still sending out signals that Miller was available for the right price.
"Cleveland in the days leading up to the draft coyly let the information out that Miller was available. The asking price of a number one or high number two draft selection scared many teams off," the source said. "The belief throughout the league is that Miller does not fit the system run by Butch Davis in Cleveland. That may be true, but Miller had one hell of a season in 2001 and played well in the 2000 season.
"As far as his contract is concerned, there were many long discussions about
restructuring his current contract and paying him a large bonus. The Browns will
not go that route with Miller. He will get some incentive bonuses for
particulars like sacks, tackles, and being voted to the Pro Bowl. Additionally,
I would not be surprised to see incentives in the mold of team defensive ranking
worked into the deal. Presently the number that is being thrown around is a
potential increase of one-to-two million dollars a season."
Healthy Competition: Competition is thought of as a means to improve the play of a player, while having the opportunity to improve the depth of a team. In Cleveland, the Browns have turned the corner and will have numerous roster battles in Training Camp.
The offensive line has taken an enormous amount of criticism throughout the past four seasons. Interesting battles are developing along the offensive line and this could prove to be the toughest position to get a definitive set of starters.
"The offensive line is an area where this team could potentially be much improved. Last season we got a taste of what some of these guys could do. With an improved training program, the players are stronger, quicker, and in better overall condition," the source said. "You can just look at Shaun O¹Hara and Paul Zukauskas and see the physical development they have taken on with their dedication to the program.
The offensive line is looking pretty good with Verba at left tackle, O¹Hara
at left guard, Wohlabaugh at
center, Tre¹ (Johnson) at right guard and Ryan Tucker at right tackle. "Barry Stokes will play an important role on the team, rookie Melvin Fowler has done nothing but impress and will compete for playing time. There will be players that do not make this team that will play in the NFL, somewhere. It is never a good feeling to release a player, but it does tell us that we are an improved unit."