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Thoughtful Browns fans - and that's most of us because we're all so smart - had much to ponder during an event-free weekend. After Friday afternoon, in which the Browns lost free agents Shawn Barber, Oliver Ross, and James Allen to other teams in quick succession, we were generally left to consider whether the team had avoided overpaying mediocre players or simply weren't considered a desireable employer.
Based on the contents of my email box, it is clear that Browns fans weren't panicking. Forums denizen Phelix wrote in to say: "The Browns are truly on the way up, and I have to believe that Davis would pull the string on these guys if he really thought they were way better than the players he's going to pick up next month in the draft." BKDog echoed this point of view, offering "...we shouldn't get to excited about a 2nd tier lineman, an average back at best and a OLB that we thought we could make into a MLB. I don't think any of them except maybe Ross was a good fit for this team. I'm glad we didn't fill our cap space with these guys."
The Bernies Insiders Forums and in my email box are about as good as anything in getting the pulse of dedicated Browns fans, and panic does not appear to be setting in.
Dwight Clark would like to hear this, as he is quoted reassuring fans and the press in Pat McManamon's story in the Akron Beacon-Journal this morning: "It's a long time until July 15... We have (free agents) left now and then the draft and the June 1 waive. With the cap trouble that a lot of teams are in, this may be a better June 1 stretch than normal.'' McManamon's interview with Clark follows a day after his excellent analysis of the Browns continuing needs.
Pat seems skeptical of T.J. Duckett's reported 4.3 40 time. After a little research, I have discovered that running a 40-yard dash with a 50-mph wind at one's back while going downhill on a skateboard should not be considered to bias the results. That brought my 40-time down to a nifty 5.6 seconds, and I'm considering inviting the press and a few scouts next time.
Tony Grossi also took a look at Duckett and William Green over the weekend, remarking on the size of the contingent that the Browns took with them to Michigan State and Boston. Grossi points out that the suddenly spend-happy Falcons signing of Warrick Dunn likely opens up the draft so that the Browns can get whichever running back they want. The most eye-opening, and frankly hilarious, story in Grossi's column was towards the bottom: Mike Ditka is quoted out of the Times-Picayune saying that the Saints actually offered more to the Bengals than they paid the Redskins to land Ricky Williams in 1999. The Bengals turned them down. Amazing.
Steve Doerschuck of the Canton Rep seemed a bit more concerned about the Browns running game in today's lengthy overview of the Browns positional needs and possibilities. "As free agency marches on", Doerschuck writes, "and the draft approaches, the pressure mounts. The Browns have signed a starting safety (Robert Griffith) and a starting defensive lineman (Kenard Lang) for their defense. But what's in it for the running game?"
Browns fans will be watching closely, and so will Bernie's Insiders.
Write to Art Bietz at email@example.com. He will often send back rambling and incoherent replies, but you can wait until the medication kicks in and he'll often forget about the first response and write again.