Taylor on the Browns and the NFL

Another day, another KJ trade rumor put to rest, plus draft rumblings

It's less than two weeks before the April 20th, and it's been a couple of weeks since a full-blown Kevin Johnson rumor has hit the 'Net, so it must be time, once again, to offer an update on the future of the wide receiver in Cleveland.
The Insiders has spoken with several sources in both Cleveland and Philadelphia, and, to a person, they have all emphatically stated that there is very little substance, at least on Cleveland's end, to the KJ-to-Philly trade talk.  Browns and Eagles sources have all told The Insiders that there have been no -- for those in the reading audience who use Spanish as their native tongue, that translates into "no" -- "serious" discussions regarding KJ "as of late".
The sources did confirm a report in today's edition of the Trenton Times, which states that Philadelphia had offered Trotter to Cleveland in exchange for Johnson before lifting the franchise tag off the linebacker.  The Browns, according to one source, never seriously entertained the offer, partly out of their desire to keep Johnson and partly because they simply did not want to meet the exorbitant contract demands of Trotter.
In fact, a source said, talks between the Browns and Johnson's agents on a long-term contract extension, which began quietly earlier this offseason, will heat up in the coming months.
The Eagles recent screw job of Trotter should help quell some of the trade talk involving Johnson and Philadelphia, although not all of it.
As it stands now, Johnson is not going anywhere.  What the future holds for KJ, no one knows, but at least for now it involves gunning for his second straight 1,000-yard receiving season in the Brown and Orange......
Although it's still a little more than three months until training camps open around the league, there is already yet another problem bubbling underneath the surface in Baltimore
The Ravens, decimated by offseason losses to their once-dominant defense, are attempting to extend the contracts of linebackers Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware, partly because their level of play warrants it, but mainly because the club is in desperate need of salary-cap space.  The negotiations, however, have gone less than smooth thus far, a source familiar with the talks tells The Insiders
The conversations have hit such a snag, the source said, there are rumblings that the Pro Bowl twosome could be no-shows for the start of camp in July.  In other words, the word "holdout" could be a part of Baltimore's lexicon in the coming months.
Apparently, the Ravens are attempting to push very vigorously the split-bonus option on both players.  The split-bonus, despised by the NFL Players Association, pays a player an initial signing bonus upon the inking of a contract, then another bonus at a later date, usually one year after the deal is signed.
Such a split of the signing bonus allows cap-strapped teams such as Baltimore alleviate the cost of a multi-million signing bonus.
It's the same structure, though, that led to Elvis Grbac being jettisoned earlier this offseason, and the same structure that led to the Big Apple brouhaha involving Michael Strahan.
"[The Ravens] swore up and down that [Grbac] was their quarterback, but when it came time to pay the bonus, they dumped him,"  the source said.  "Why would any player in their right mind accept the split from an organization that just recently did what they did?"......
A report in the Boston Globe last week stated that erstwhile Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe has not completely closed the door on a trade to the Bengals, that he simply wants to see all of his options before agreeing to be sent to NFL purgatory.  However, a source within the offices of Bledsoe's agent, David Dunn, tells The Insiders that Bledsoe did indeed instruct his representation firm to inform the Bengals organization that he would not accept a trade to the Queen City.  The source also stated that Cincinnati has called on numerous occasions in an effort to gauge whether or not Bledsoe had undergone a change of heart.  As of yet, the source said, the veteran QB has not......
Given Baltimore's switch to a 3-4 defense, and the losses of starter Jamie Sharper in the expansion draft and backup Brad Jackson to free agency, the club is looking for a few good linebackers this offseason.  While Kevin Hardy will visit the Ravens at some point this week, they will not be able to sign the talented LB until either June 1, when they release starting defensive end Michael McCrary, or when Boulware and Lewis agree to contract extensions.  It's doubtful that Hardy will last on the open market that long, especially given the Cowboys' interest in the former Jaguar......
The Ravens, along with four other teams, have expressed an interest in Bucs free-agent wide receiver/return specialist Karl Williams.  The 5-10, 177-pound Williams, who has averaged 11.3 yards and scored four touchdowns on punt returns during his six-year career, would be a capable replacement to Jermaine Lewis, selected by the Texans in the February expansion draft...... 
Free-agent defensive tackle Grady Jackson has an offer on the table from the Jets, but is awaiting a response from one unnamed team before making his decision, The Insiders has learned.  The Raider

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