LET'S GET RETARDED: When is not landing your hands-down #1 free agent priority a good thing and the second biggest development of the first 18 hours of free agency?
When said target lands an 8-year/$80 million deal - with $23 million in guaranteed money - as cornerback Nate Clements did earlier this evening.
According to a source with knowledge of the negotiations, the Browns and 49ers were in a heated tit-for-tat struggle to land the former Pro Bowl corner throughout the day. Earlier this evening, when Clements' agent went back to the Browns with what would turn out to be the 49ers' final offer, the Browns blinked and walked away from the negotiating table.
The Browns, finally, had reached their breaking point.
In fact, the source said, the Browns went over their self-determined breaking point earlier in the afternoon but remained in the bidding anyway.
Now, here's the scary thought: if the Browns had matched the 49ers "last" offer, the 49ers were prepared to go even higher.
As we said in a report before the signing, Clements was both impressed and surprised at the lengths the 49ers were going to retain his services. After eyeing those numbers, it's easy to understand why.
WHAT'S THE DIELMAN? According to a source very close to the situation, the reported signing of Eric Steinbach means the Browns will officially be ruled out as a potential destination for free agent lineman Kris Dielman.
The OBR was also told that the Browns and Dielman's camp were in contact for most of the day "in case talks broke down" between the Browns and Steinbach, or the Seahawks and Dielman.
Furthermore, The OBR was told there was a chance that Dielman would have visited Cleveland if Dielman left Seattle without a deal, not Miami as has been previously reported.
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE: Last night we reported that the Browns had an interest in Joey Porter. That interest remains as The OBR has learned that the club has spoken to the linebacker's agent again today. The talks, however, are not yet even remotely serious and are merely in the exploratory stage. The two sides are expected to speak again in the coming days.
TACKLE OR GUARD? One of those scurrilous internet web sites reported this afternoon that the Browns are eyeing Steinbach to play right tackle with the club.
If you respond to that tidbit with a cheery "wha?", you're not alone.
If you want a little hint as to which position Steinbach is going to play, look at the value of his deal. It's not $49 million - it's $49.5 million.
Just enough to make Steinbach the highest-paid offensive guard in the NFL. Don't understimate how important that little designation is to a professional football player.
And, no, there is still no official word from the team on the signing, or a scheduled press conference. We'll provide details on what the team has to say officially, once they officially decide to make it official.
OBR publisher and caffeine junkie Barry McBride contributed to this report. Badly.