OBR News and World Report: 2/22

See the man with the droopy pants catching the football for a touchdown? That fellow's name is Antonio Bryant and he caught passes for over 1,000 yards this season. Antonio is waving bye-bye. John Taylor offers the latest on this situation and others involving the Cleveland Browns in this morning's OBR News and World Report...

(Editor's note: This is the first of what we hope will be a daily column. 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.)


In spite of the Jets officially announcing their intention to place the franchise tag on John Abraham for the second consecutive off-season, all is not lost for Browns fans hoping to acquire the talented but enigmatic defensive end.

According to various print and league sources, the Jets have every intention of, at the very least, making an effort to trade the highly disgruntled Pro Bowler. Those same sources list the Browns as being on the list of teams interested in a potential deal.

While it is unlikely that general manager Phil Savage would be willing to part with draft picks--even for a player the caliber of Abraham--a league source tells The OBR that "all avenues will be explored to improve (the Browns), including trades that involve draft picks."

The Chargers, Redskins and Texans are also listed as potential players in the Abraham sweepstakes.

* * * * *

A week or so ago, the agent for current/former Browns wide receiver Antonio Bryant groused to a local fish wrap regarding the lack of communication with the Browns.

Yesterday, Savage commented to the assembled media that "we could use a veteran receiver" through free agency.

Now, I'm no mathema… mathama… guy who's good with numbers, but I do believe that one plus one equals toodle-loo* Antonio.

* * * * *

The "acquire a veteran WR" drum was also beaten loudly today by Terry Pluto in his Akron Beacon Journal article. Additionally, in the same piece, Pluto officially began his long-expected "Start Charlie Frye In `06" campaign, a crusade that is expected to last until head coach Romeo Crennel relents to the writer's incessant whining about the Akron product.

* * * * *

In other veteran free-agent WR news, Tony Grossi of the Plain Dealer, citing a source close to Dennis Northcutt, is reporting that the Browns will pick up the $1.25 million roster due to the receiver by March 15.

* * * * *

The name A.J. Hawk has been tossed around more than anyone not named "Paris" as a potential fit for the Browns in '06. In fact, it's safe to assume that the OSU linebacker has a stranglehold on the #1 spot on nearly every Browns fan's must-have draft list. Unfortunately, Savage put the kibosh on any such thoughts.

"(Browns fans) all tell me they'd love to see A.J. Hawk in a Browns uniform," Savage said. "Guys ... Hawk's not gonna be there."

To quote Jack Bauer after yet another CTU miscue: "Dammit!!!"

* * * * *

During Savage's informal press conference yesterday, he made note that the Browns have every intention to "strike quickly in free agency…We'll be fairly disappointed if we're not able to make a couple of moves fairly early."

With that in mind, there are three free agents who currently sit atop the Browns wish list: linebacker Will Witherspoon, nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius. All three will be the first targeted and courted heavily upon the commencement of free agency on March 3.

Take that to the bank.

(OK, maybe the credit union.)

* * * * *

Very, very interesting listening to Savage discuss doubling up on the nose tackle position during free agency and the draft. Especially when you consider he wasn't prompted; he was simply asked about improving the position via free agency or the draft. Hmmmm…

* * * * *

Perhaps the most uplifting words to come from Savage yesterday were in regard to, finally, realizing that if you can't compete in your own division, you simply can't compete.

Cue the choir…

"We talk about Pittsburgh a lot. I've made it a point every time we've had a personnel meeting since that meeting at Thanksgiving, be it pro or college, to say, `Let's not worry about covering ourselves and making sure we know about 489 college players. Let's make sure we know the ones we think can beat Pittsburgh and help us beat Baltimore and Cincinnati.' The Steelers and the Bengals set a standard for us. If we can compete with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh and Baltimore, then we can compete with the rest of the league."

…choir slowly fades

Amen, Phil. Amen.


The current unrest between the Ravens and Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis could have been avoided as far back as 2002, the Baltimore Sun is reporting.

According to The Sun, the Ravens wanted Lewis to sign a four-year deal at the time, but Lewis and his camp held out for the current longer-term deal. If Lewis had followed the Ravens line of thinking, he would be set to become a free agent in a little more than a week.

As it stands now, Lewis is attempting to get a restructure of his contract (read: one last shot at huge upfront jack) and is beginning to rock the trade-or-release boat.

* * * * *

Speaking of Lewis, teammate Deion Sanders--who graduated magna cum loudly from the prestigious Henry Kissinger School of Diplomacy and currently sits on their Board of Regents—is fretting that this situation may gasp cause some type of shudder public backlash against Lewis.

"Now everyone in Baltimore is upset," Sanders told Sporting News Radio. "All of those fans, what do they say? How do they feel about you? Are you able to come back without being booed? That's just not the way to go about doing business."

* * * * *

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals have re-signed punter Kyle Larson to a one-year contract. That joyous sound you may have heard coming from…ehhhh, who am I kidding. He's a friggin' punter.


National Champion quarterback and recently-named Davey O'Brien Award winner Vince Young has elected to be a non-participant at the NFL Scouting Combine. Young, who is expected to fall no further than third overall to the Titans in the April draft, will be in Indianapolis but will simply interview with interested teams… The Lions are strongly considering using the franchise or transition tag on offensive lineman Jeff Backus. Needless to say, Backus would prefer to test the free-agent waters while not "closing the door on coming back"… Vikings running back Michael Bennett is about to add an "ex" to his title, according to himself. "They told my agent they're going in another direction, so I won't be coming back," the fifth-year back told the St. Paul Pioneer Press… The Chargers have released 32-year-old safety Jerry Wilson. The ten-year veteran started all 16 games during the '03 and '04 seasons, but lost his starting job last year to free-agent acquisition Bhawoh Jue… Broncos safety John Lynch reached terms on a deal yesterday that will keep the seven-time Pro Bowler in Denver through the 2008 season. Additionally, the team has re-signed defensive end John Engelberger to a three-year deal that includes a $750,000 signing bonus.

* EDITORS NOTE: The author used the word "toodle-loo". On purpose. You can let him know what this infers about his manliness on the new OBR Football Roundtable forum.

The OBR Top Stories