Barking Mad: Sign of the Times

All is good in the world - Mike Desmond has a new favorite player. Hopefully this one will break a string of draft-day disappointments which has doomed the Browns since their return.

Kamerion Wimbley is my favorite player.

Seriously. Never mind that the guy has yet to play a down for the Browns. Heck, he still needs to make the transition to outside linebacker—the position the former defensive end is slated to play when the season starts in September.

But when Wimbley signed a six-year contract last week, to become the first player this side of Mario Williams to sign from the first round of the 2006 draft, I was hooked. I mean, what's not to like about a slippery quick, 245-pound speed rusher who lives clean, plays hard, and respects the game?

Feeling a touch of déjà vu? That's not a glitch in the Matrix, it's just the icy claw of cold coincidence taking hold of your brain stem. Remember the last time the Browns managed to ink a first-round draft pick before the start of camp? I do. It was 2000, and we were all gushing over a 6-4, 270-pound speed rusher by the name of Courtney Brown. Brown was a prototype defensive end—the thinking man's Bruce Smith—who lived clean, played hard, and respected the game.

Instead, he spent more time hitting the IR than QBs and eventually emerged as the most disappointing of the Browns' many draft busts since 1999. Unlike Tim Couch, Gerard Warren, William Green and Jeff Faine, Courtney Brown actually had it all—the talent, work ethic, game smarts, and raw, physical attributes to play at the highest level. He really was that good. He just couldn't stay on the field.

Not that history is doomed to repeat itself with Wimbley. After all, there is no comparing the cap damage wrought by a #1 overall pick to that produced by a #13 selection. For example, this year's top draft pick—Mario Williams—signed a six-year, $54 million deal, with $26.5 million guaranteed, while Wimbley's six-year haul is $23.7 million, with $9.3 million guaranteed. Even if Wimbley busts, he won't take the entire franchise down with him.

The good news keeps getting better. The Browns negotiating team must be staying at a Holiday Inn Express, because Savage and company have signed just about everyone this side of the team janitorial staff. (The janitors held out for more guaranteed money and got shipped to San Francisco for some old Joe Montana-era game tapes). On Sunday, the Browns closed out everyone but third-round pick Travis Wilson. Most impressive, second-round pick D'Qwell Jackson, who pundits feared might hold out, will be attending Monday's rookie camp. A lot of folks expect Jackson to quickly step into a starting role at inside linebacker.

And man, is it ever good to be clear of the ugliness brewing in New Orleans. Reggie Bush is already threatening to sit out the entire year, so he can re-enter the NFL in the 2007 draft. According to reports, the two sides have barely even talked, much less tried to negotiate a deal. You gotta wonder if Butch Davis isn't holed up in a FEMA trailer somewhere, advising Saints management on how to deal with Bush's agent.

None of that matters, of course. We just signed my favorite player.

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