OBR News and World Report: 3/15

There are many stories in the big city. Here are about a dozen or so.


The future of Jeff Faine in Cleveland became muddled with the signing of LeCharles Bentley during the opening day of free agency.

That future likely become even more clouded over the night as the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting the Browns reached an agreement with versatile free-agent offensive lineman Bob Hallen.

Hallen, who went to high school in Mentor and graduated from Kent State, reportedly inked a two-year deal with the Browns. The eight-year veteran becomes the fourth free agent who matriculated at a Cleveland-area high school to sign with the Browns this off-season.

Hallen's signing makes Faine even more expendable as the former Charger and Falcon lineman has played both guard and center during his career.


Safety Chris Hope, linked to the Browns as a potential signing throughout the first four days of free agency, may not be the only defensive back drawing interest from Cleveland.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, rumblings coming out of Oakland have the Browns interested in defensive back Renaldo Hill.

Hill, who has played both safety and cornerback during his five-year career with the Raiders and Cardinals, appeared in all 16 games last season and finished with one interception. Oddly enough, his lone pick came in Oakland's 9-7 loss to Cleveland in December.


It seems as though the hometown discount was in full effect for the Browns, at least as it concerned Joe Jurevicius. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the wide receiver turned down an offer from San Francisco that was worth more than the one he eventually signed in Cleveland.

As to how much Jurevicius turned down, we have not yet been able to divine that, nor the specifics of his deal with the Browns.


Continuing on the "hometown" theme, the vastly underrated reporter from the Canton Repository, Todd Porter, nabbed an interesting interview with THE Ohio State University head coach Jim Tressel regarding Bentley and his signing.

Tressel, of course, coached Bentley at tOSU and witnessed firsthand the center's love of all things Orange & Brown.

"LeCharles lives and dies the Cleveland Browns," Tressel told the paper.

"He wants to be there bad, so that's the first thing he brings. No. 2, he brings a physical nature to their game. ... It starts up front being physical. He's a competitive guy. I think he'll, one day, be considered the best center in the NFL."

However, Tressel realizes that bringing in players who grew up rooting for the team can only go so far. The players being signed also have to be able to contribute.

"Just like us, the only way you bring in players from Ohio is if they're good. The Browns better bring in good guys. Jurevicius is special. He's a winner. LeCharles is the best in the business. ... They're bringing in bonuses. You have to understand Ohio to understand it's important (to bring in home-grown talent). It may not be important in Seattle."


Now, getting back to the 49ers and wide receivers, the club landed former Brown Antonio Bryant recently after the Browns said "thanks, but no thanks" to the receiver's return. Given Bryant's somewhat "troubled" past, the organization did its due diligence in checking out his background before putting pen to paper.

As part of their investigation, the organization spoke to numerous persons associated with Bryant during his NFL tenure, including current Browns wide receiver coach Terry Robiskie. Apparently, Robiskie gave Bryant a glowing review, citing the WR for his tremendous work ethic and competitiveness.

"I knew I had some baggage in the past, and I definitely think I have something to prove to them and to come in here and be the player and receiver they need me to be, and to help improve this organization and the receiving corps," Bryant told reporters at the press conference announcing his signing.

"I'm 25 years old now. I came in very young, so I can say that I didn't have the opportunity to be groomed by other receivers like some guys did. A lot of things I had to do was learn on my own and protect myself. But for the most part, I've been around a lot of guys who feared the competition of a young guy taking their job. I had to bump my head a few times to get where I am now."

Oddly enough, one of the few people previously associated with Bryant that head coach Mike Nolan didn't talk to was Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells. Bryant had an infamous run-in with Parcells during his stint in Dallas, as the receiver tossed a jersey in the coach's face after being booted from practice.


Following the signing of Ma'ake Kemoeatu with the Carolina Panthers, The OBR reported that the Browns, while very interested, refused to break the bank for the promising but mostly unproven defensive tackle.

Now, the mainstream has joined in on that tangent.

Kemoeatu's agent told the Canton Repository that the Browns made a sincere, reasoned offer to his client, but it was above what the club had budgeted.

"It turned out the market for Maake was pretty damn high," Ken Vierra told the paper.


Multiple Cleveland-area newspapers are reporting this morning that the Browns visited with free agents Ravens tight end Darnell Dinkins and Giants wide receiver Tim Carter yesterday.


Former Browns vice president of football operations Lal Heneghan is currently interviewing for a post in the 49ers front office, and could be hired as early as early next week.

The 49ers seemingly understand the value Heneghan brings to an NFL organization, and it's too bad Randy Lerner, apparently, doesn't. If I'm not mistaken, the title of "president of the Cleveland Browns" is still vacant, and it's a shame that Heneghan, who was a valued member of the organization until being unceremoniously dumped by Butch Davis, is not under consideration for the position.


Browns running back Reuben Droughns will be the featured guest at the Browns Backers of Great Dayton's annual banquet on March 25.

I have three words for the organizers of the event: "No", "Open" and "Bar".


So, the Browns have released Jason Fisk. Wow, never saw that one coming. Especially given the nose tackle's level of play last year.


The Steelers went one-for-two yesterday in retaining their own free agents as defensive end Brett Keisel re-signed with the club, while fellow DT Kimo von Oelhoffen opted for greener pastures in New York.

The financial terms of Keisel's four-year deal were not released, while ESPN's John Clayton reports von Oelhoffen a three-year, $9.2 million contract to sign with the Jets.

Von Oelhoffen also received a $3.2 million signing bonus as part of his deal, Clayton reported.


Having two Pro Bowl running backs in the same field—as the Ravens do with Mike Anderson and Jamal Lewis—has the potential to cause more than a few "issues" both on and off the field.

According to Anderson, though, that will not be the case in Baltimore.

"It was a surprise. But if you've been in this business long enough, you know anything can happen at any given moment," Anderson told reporters.

"That was fine with me. I know Jamal. I am going to love playing with him. I assumed that I was going to come in and compete. Nothing is guaranteed in this business. That's all I've been doing since my rookie year."


You can count Carson Palmer as one member of the Cincinnati Bengals who is somewhat saddened by the departure of backup and mentor Jon Kitna.

"I guess you could say I have mixed emotions," Palmer told reporters. "I'm extremely happy for Jon and his family in having this opportunity. But I consider Jon irreplaceable as a player, a teammate and a leader in our locker room."

Kitna inked a four-year, $10.5 million deal with the Lions yesterday. The deal also included a $3.5 million signing bonus.


In addition to re-signing Keisel, the Steelers plucked a player from an opposing team as they came to terms with safety Ryan Clark. The former Redskin, whose signing all but slams the door on the return of Hope, signed a four-year deal.



Do not be surprised when the Bengals announce—either today or, at the latest, tomorrow—the signing of defensive tackle Sam Adams.


With Kitna off the market, the Ravens may turn their attention to Brian Griese as an option at quarterback.


ESPN's Len Pasquarelli is reporting that the Falcons are trying to put together a package to bring franchise-tagged linebacker John Abraham to Atlanta. The stumbling block in any potential trade, Pasquarelli reported, is the Jets insistence on quarterback Matt Schaub being included in the deal… Updating an ongoing storyline, Adam Schefter of the NFL Network reports that Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre remains undecided as to whether or not he will return for a 16th season… According to the Washington Times, the Redskins are on the verge of trading QB Patrick Ramsey to the Jets in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick… The Vikings may be looking to trade up in the draft from their current spot at 17th overall, with their eyes on one of the top three QBs available in next month's draft…

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