Exclusive: Big Names on Radar

There are some big names on the Browns radar, but Edgerrin James isn't really one of them (despite what his agent says). Get the <i>exclusive</i> scoop on some players who could be signing or trade targets in the coming weeks. Per usual, Lane Adkins delivers, with some help from the rest of the NFL obsessives in <b>Ask the Insiders</b>.

jmazzulo920: How much validity is there to Drew Rosenhaus claiming the Browns are one of the few teams in the running for Edgerrin James? Also, what do you think about this? What do you think about Edge?

BarryMcBride: The fact that the team's name comes up is an indication that some sort of contact has been made, since Rosenhaus wouldn't using a potential buyer as a bold-faced lie. But, agents have been known to do whatever it takes to pump up the value of their clients, and what we've heard is that the Browns are in the second tier of teams pursuing James.

Personally, I think acquiring James would be inappropriate. If he was the final piece in the puzzle to help this team win a Super Bowl, fine. But the Browns still have too many holes and too many concerns to invest that much in a single player, who, even though he was only drafted six years ago, appears to have already peaked and is now on the downside of his career.

Mike McLain: I wouldn't place much validity in what Rosenhuas has to say. He's one of those agents who loves to see his name in the paper. I can't see the Browns having an interest in James, who's had knee problems. If the Browns want an upgrade at running back, they can simply use their first pick on one of several players among a deep group of talented players at the position. 

Lane Adkins: Rosenhaus contacted the Browns on seperate occasions about James..........the team does not have an interest in this running back, but there is another one which has been given the opportunity to seek a deal which has perked the interest of the Browns..............Shaun Alexander.

Skippy54345: Wouldn't Alexander be out of the Browns price range?

Lane Adkins: No, the Browns have the draft selection and salary-cap space to deal for Alexander if they desired.

Doug Farrar (Seahawks.NET, Editor-in-chief): Do you know if the teams are at the discussion stage? Any specific reason you know why they'd be interested in Alexander and not James?

Lane Adkins: There have been no specific discussions from what I have been told, but the passing interest has perked, starting back to the discussions regarding Dilfer. Alexander appears to be a much better fit in the offensive scheme the Browns intend to utilize, as well as Alexander being a much-less medical risk, and the realistic notion that James would like to play in a warmer climate (would love to return to Miami or possibly Tampa Bay)

dboots: Lane, are we looking at a serious possibility of a trade before draft day? Any guess at what would be involved? Willie Green maybe as part of a deal?

Lane Adkins: If the Browns were to seek a deal, I would expect that to occur prior to the draft. As for Green, I am hearing nothing about teams of interest.

Doug Farrar: Thanks for the info! Are you on board with the common perception that were the Seahawks to trade Shaun, they'd get a second-round pick in return at best?

Lane Adkins: I'm hearing 2nd as well, if it is an early round selection. If it is a later 2nd, the price increases. There is also some talk that the Seahawks seek two draft selections for Alexander, but I haven't been able to pin down any specifics. dfarrar777............would you like to chime in on the type of RB Alexander is?

Doug Farrar: Sure. The two knocks on Shaun is that he is not a good post-contact back - unlike a Corey Dillon, he'll go down pretty easily - and that he's not a good blocker. Re: the contact thing, he was much better in this regard last season (walk year syndrome?) and I would defy any Seattle Alexander-basher to come up with the name of a back who gains 1696 yards in a season without getting some pretty serious production after the first hit. While this was a legit criticism in years past, there was significant improvement last season. But part of the reason he's NOT an injury risk is that he's not going to habitually put his head down for that extra yard...unless it's in the red zone. Some fans found it karmically humorous that he lost the NFL rushing title to Curtis Martin by one yard...the response from many on our board was, "That's what you get for going down too easily on all those 3rd and 1 plays!" While that's rhetoric to some extent, Savage and co. are not getting another Jamal Lewis here.

He has the size and athletic ability to be an excellent blocker, but he really isn't. Again, there was improvement in this area last year, but he doesn't seem to want to do it. I remember hearing stories about Jim Brown and the fact that he also didn't really like to block and the trouble he had with Paul Brown over it. I'm probably going to get killed for comparing Shaun to Jim Brown on a Cleveland board, but there you go. :b

Problem is, you need a blocking back in the West Coast Offense. Shaun Alexander is not, in my opinion, a prototype WCO back. He's perceived as a good passcatcher, but that's partially because he gets more touches in that offense. Over the last two seasons, Mike Holmgren has gone away from the halfback as a receiving option to an extent - whether that's due to a change in his own philosophy or frustration at Shaun's drops (a problem the Seahawks seem to be cursed with of late) is not known.

He follows blocks extremely well...and he's had what may be the best left side offensive line in the NFL in Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. Holmgren came out of Green Bay believing devoutly in the importance in the offensive line, and Seattle's talent at those positions reflects that. I don't know about Cleveland's OL, but the little I've read tells me that there might be a dropoff there...although the Andruzzi signing was a great one, I think. He may have to improvise more, which will work if he can get past the "first wave". He is an outstanding open-field runner, especially for his size.

He's one the best red zone backs in football - he has more TDs than any back in the league (60) over the last four years with the exception of Priest Holmes, I believe.

I think he needs out of Seattle, and that the Seahawks need to replace him. I believe he's one of the five best backs in football, but that doesn't mean he fits our offense. If Cleveland's new offense will focus on the Savage template in Baltimore - a smart, conservative pass offense and a feature back - you couldn't do too much better. But we need a back who better fits the West Coast Offense as long as we're running it. His inability to fit that offense, and Holmgren's inability to re-design the offense to make him a better fit (whoever you choose to "blame" it on) has led to some pretty serious mutual frustration.

All in all...if Shaun Alexander is a Cleveland Brown, I think you'll be pretty happy with what you get...and we might be a bit wistful when we see his numbers.

Abitadawg: I know we still need linebackers....what about Hartwell??? with KC taking Bell and Knight and that is where most thought he would go I dont think they ahve the cap to get him in. What our your thoughts?

Lane Adkins: The team is quietly talking with Hartwell and I am hearing he would like to play here. Money talks in most cases and I haven't been able to get any specifics at this time.

Adogbtown: I was wondering why Hartwell hadn't signed yet. Is he in line for an Antonio Pierce/Kendrell Bell ($5M per) type of deal or more along the lines of a Jeremiah Trotter/Chris Claiborne type of deal ($3M per)??

Lane Adkins: He is seeking a deal richer than that of Pierce and Bell.

Mike McLain: Hartwell has to be on the Browns' radar simply because of his prior association with Phil Savage in Baltimore. The problem at this time might be that Hartwell's asking price is too high. It will be interesting to see what the Browns do with the money saved after Courtney Brown is released. Hartwell's name could jump into the picture at that time.

Lane Adkins: Just to add............ Hartwell and Douglas are both targets that are slowing down on the Browns radar.

ChezDawg99: When you say "slowing down", do you mean the Browns are losing interest or are looking elsewhere?

Lane Adkins: Slowing down meaning the potential for the Browns to acquire these/this player(s) increases by the day. Hartwell is an impact player.

Cavsfan90: Lane is Hartwell coming to town? What is the interest by the Browns?

Lane Adkins: He is not scheduled to come to town at this time......

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