OBR News and World Report: 2/21

Your Cleveland Browns: Prepared, if needed, to sue the evil forces of sharing and common good....

(Editor's note: Welcome once more to the OBR News and World Report, Cleveland Beat Writers Vacation Edition. While at first it will be simply links—with an OBR twist and flava--to news stories associated with the Browns and other AFC North teams, we will eventually be branching out into original material ala the NFLtalk Rumor Mill and the old BTNG Sunday Morning Massacre. Of course, the usual smarminess and snarkiness that has been associated with the above two mentioned columns will continue in liberal/heavy doses.)

Most of the focus of off-season legalese has been on extending the league's collective bargaining agreement and whether or not 2006 would be an uncapped year of spending.

However, an undercurrent which may or may not involve the Browns is growing that has the potential to alter the mostly pristine NFL landscape.

The Washington Post is strongly hinting in a story published this morning that Cleveland may be one of the six to nine teams to make legal waves regarding the league's current and future revenue-sharing plan.

The plan, which is the envy of every major sport—and hockey--in North America, currently calls for all teams to share national revenues while keeping locally-generated monies to themselves.

A number of teams—the "have-nots" like Minnesota and Arizona—may attempt to grab a piece of the "have's" pie. The Browns, along with teams such as the Redskins and Cowboys, belong in the latter group.

If, according to The Post, a new revenue-sharing plan that involves giving up local dollars to "poorer" teams is approved, the six-to-nine team block will take their case to court.


The Bengals, picking 24th in April's draft, are preparing for the start of tomorrow's NFL Scouting Combine with an eye on one-on-one interviews more so than a player's performance in individual drills.

"Their personality, how it's magnetic, tells me how a guy is going to have success in the NFL or avoid the low times as much as possible," head coach Marvin Lewis, who recently extended his contract with Cincinnati through 2010, tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. "When a guy is dull, all he has is himself, and boy, that's a lot of pressure."

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According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are leaning toward placing the franchise tag on running back Jamal Lewis. Baltimore has until Thursday to decide whether or not to slap the $6 million RB franchise tag on the talented but oft-injured/in court RB.

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Former Steelers running back-turned-NBC broadcaster Jerome Bettis tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he thinks the Steelers may be willing to allow safety Chris Hope to leave via free agency.

"(The Steelers) think that maybe they can stand to lose (Hope)…because of the dollars he's going to command," Bettis said.


Ricky Williams and new agent Tommy Chong are appealing The Dreaded One's latest drug suspension, ESPN is reporting. This is Williams' fourth violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

Additionally, the Miami Herald is reporting that, unlike his first three violations, this latest lapse is not for marijuana.

As a result of Williams' latest brush with the league's drug policy, rumored trades with the Broncos and Texans have been at least temporarily placed on the back burner.

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Trade winds continue to swirl around injured Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper as reports from both Minneapolis and Miami have him playing almost anywhere but Minnesota in 2006. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports talks are ongoing with the Ravens, while the Miami Herald writes that Culpepper could be headed for the Dolphins.

And what would the going rate be for a former Pro Bowl QB coming off a major knee injury? At least a 2nd-round pick, but probably more according to both papers.

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The ongoing "will he or won't he" saga involving Chad Pennington continues as new Jets head coach Eric Mangini is doing his best Belichickian impersonation regarding the QB's future. Pennington is due a $3 million roster bonus on March 3rd, and Mangini has steadfastly refused to commit one way or another to the QB.

"Chad's status with the Jets is unchanged," Mangini said, adding, when asked if Pennington would be his 2006 starter:

"That's a hypothetical question that at this point I can't answer."

Somewhere, Bill Belichick is attempting to start the process of beginning to possibly crack his patented creepy smirk.

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The Chargers have declined to place the franchise or transition tag on quarterback Drew Brees, which means the Purdue product will hit the open market on March 3 if a rumored multi-year agreement with the club is not reached.


NFL teams will spend $70,000 apiece in order to watch really big, sweaty men run around on fake grass in nut-huggers and wife-beaters at the NFL Scouting Combine.



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