OBR News and World Report: 3/5

Everything of relevance this Sunday on your Cleveland Browns - plus John Taylor's own scoops and insight. All of this delivered in under 15 minutes to your web browser or it's free! Well, it's free, anyway, but we won't run over anyone getting it to you, probably.


Pat McManamon has written a tremendous op-ed piece in today's Akron Beacon Journal regarding the ongoing NFL labor dispute, a piece in which he takes a sizeable chunk out of the arses of both the player's union and the owners. A summation wouldn't do it justice, so click HERE to read the article in its entirety, with just a little teaser to follow right about...


Kids are dying in Iraq, there are those still homeless from Hurricane Katrina and people deal with real tragedy every day.

The NFL is at an "impasse'' over the division of wealth.

Pardon me while I retch.

And, to continue with the labor lunacy and a view from another corner of the league, click HERE for an excellent article from David Aldridge of the Philadelphia Enquirer.


The Browns continue to work on an agreement with offensive tackle L.J. Shelton, who can become a free agent if and when the NFL decides it wants to begin the signing season. Shelton is the last of The Big Three general manager Phil Savage targeted for a contract extension/re-signing following the end of the 2005 season.

Savage sounded like a person who views the glass as a quarter full when asked about the progress being made on a deal.

"We're still working on it,'' Savage told the Akron Beacon Journal.


Speaking of The Big Three, the middle member, running back Reuben Droughns, has some sage advice for Savage as the GM heads into his second free agency go-around.

"I said, 'Get us some good free agents, some veterans,' " Droughns told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Veteran leadership in the locker room is something a successful team always is going to need. That leadership helps the younger players."


LeCharles Bentley, the former Ohio State product and object of many a Browns fan's affections, has denied a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer that he will sign with the Eagles as soon as the 2006 free-agent season begins.

The story, citing a source close to the Pro Bowler, stated that "Bentley's interest in joining the Eagles is so strong that only the delay in the free-agency period prevented the move from happening (Saturday)."

The Pro Bowl center denied the story to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, although he refused to speculate on where he may end up.

Oddly enough, there is very little noise coming out of Berea either publicly or via sources regarding the team's interest in Bentley. Is this a case of Savage lying in wait in the weeds, not wanting to tip his hand, or is there indeed little interest on the part of the Browns in the center?

In addition to the Browns and Eagles, the Vikings are also said to be interested in Bentley.


The Browns are still being mentioned as a potential suitor for New England linebacker Willie McGinest, provided, as expected, the veteran is released. The rumors seem to be Patriots-centric in their evolution as McGinest is also rumored to be drawing looks from the Jets and Eric Mangini (McGinest's '05 defensive coordinator) and the Cowboys and Bill Parcells (responsible for drafting McGinest in 1994).


Baltimore's Bart Scott is expected to be a mildly hot commodity upon the commencement of free agency. The linebacker's star rose considerably last season after proving to be, at a bare minimum, a capable replacement for the injured Ray Lewis. The Browns are among a handful of teams considered to have more than a passing interest in the 25-year-old, and, according to at least one league source, the Ravens fully expect both Scott and teammate Maake Kemoeatu to become Browns soon after the start of free agency.


Chick Ludwig of the Dayton Daily News writes that Terrell Owens may be on the Browns offseason shopping list. The Eagles have until March 11 to either trade or release the wide receiver before they will owe him a $5 million roster bonus.

That being said, anything written by a grown man who goes by the name of "Chick" on purpose and for any reason other than losing a bet should be taken with a huge block of salt.


Something to keep in the back of your mind: the Lions continue to sniff around Trent Dilfer, trying to gauge if there is any interest on the part of the Browns in dealing the veteran quarterback. The Browns have zero (or nil, nada, none) interest in trading Dilfer, but the Lions refuse to go away and remain interested.

Just something to think about, is all.



The Ravens, in the midst of their annual offseason "Must Find A QB" tour, are considering going hard after free-agent quarterback Jon Kitna. A Ravens source says that Kitna is a strong option for the club, and the reasons are two-fold: it would give them a player they deem as a strong (read: better) alternative to Kyle Boller, and, given the fact that Carson Palmer is coming off a devastating knee injury, it would weaken a divisional foe.

The Baltimore Sun, however, disagrees and is reporting that Kerry Collins, not Kitna, sits atop the club's QB to-do list.


If the Ravens are indeed interested in Kitna, there strongest competition may come from the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that Kitna is the Jets' top option as a replacement for Chad Pennington/mentor for the QB they are expected to take in the first round of this year's draft.

While re-signing with the Bengals remains a possibility, Kitna has expressed doubt it will come to fruition. "I honestly believe (the Bengals) are looking to go in another direction," Kitna told the Cincinnati Post over the weekend.


If the league cannot come up with a new collective bargaining agreement, the Steelers may be forced to part ways with either their starting or backup center.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the club has two plans to restructure the contracts of Jeff Hartings and Chukky Okobi, with the direction being determined by the final salary cap number. If there is no new CBA agreement, the Steelers could be faced with the very real possibility of losing one or the other if a restructured deal cannot be agreed upon.

"We don't know yet. It depends on what the deal is," Jim Steiner, an associate of Hartings' agent, Ben Dogra, told the Post-Gazette. "There are ongoing discussions. They are trying to work it out."


The Redskins maintain an interest in obtaining linebacker Ray Lewis and continue to pursue ways to make a trade happen. ESPN reported last week that the club would not even consider trading the Pro Bowl LB unless at least one first-round draft pick was involved, but that has, as of yet, failed to deter Big Boy Danny Snyder.


The Bengals are rumored to be targeting Sage Rosenfels as a backup quarterback if they decide to go in another direction and away from Kitna. Rosenfels has spent the last four seasons being non-descript in Miami with the Dolphins.


While it seems to be a given that Antwaan Randle-El has played his last down a Steelers' uniform, he may not end up leaving the state. Rumors are swirling that the Eagles have their eyes on the Randle-El, but will take a wait-an-see tack until they get a handle on the type of money the wide receiver and his agent will be seeking.


Wide receivers Kelley Washington and Kevin Walter, fullback Jeremi Johnson and guard Scott Kooistra were tendered one-year contracts by the Bengals over the weekend.

If another team signs the player to an offer sheet, Cincinnati has the right to match it, or receive draft-pick compensation commensurate to where the player was selected. Washington was a third-round selection, Johnson a fourth and Kooistra and Walter seventh-rounders.

The Texans are believed to be interested in signing Walter to an offer sheet.



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