Publicly, the Browns have shown nothing but support for homegrown quarterback Charlie Frye, although even that once rock-solid support has wobbled in recent months.
Privately, though, it's turning into an entirely different ballgame.
At least, that's the talk floating around various league circles.
Multiple sources from around the league—from agents to scouts to members of various front offices—have told The OBR that the Browns, in not so many words, have been quietly shopping Frye throughout this offseason. While one front office source wouldn't go so far as to say that Frye was being actively shopped, he did say that at the very least, "it's been made clear that Frye is available and can be had."
When reached for comment on the talk of Frye being available, Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage had the following to say: "That story has not come across my desk."
That being said, one story making the rounds in the last week, according to one source, was that the Browns were involved in the Dre' Bly trade talks and that Frye was part of a package that had been discussed with the Lions. That claim, however, could not be verified through any other sources and should be taken with a grain of salt the size of Ted Washington.
But, here's what we know: the talk is out there, and it's very much real to the person/persons doing the talking.
"Listen, this is not a big story in any way, shape or form. It's Charlie Frye for crying out loud," one AFC scout said. "But the talk is out there, that he's available and the Browns would be willing to move him. They aren't sold on him as the future (at QB), so if moving him can help the team they'll do it."
Adding more fuel to the Frye fire is the more-than-tepid interest in drafting Brady Quinn—owner Randy Lerner was in attendance at Quinn's Pro Day workout yesterday—and the somewhat-bizarre and ongoing interest in Marques Tuiasosopo. Savage attempted to acquire Tuiasosopo last offseason, and the Raiders QB is in Berea today visiting with the club.
"(The Browns) want to improve their play at that position, and if dealing (Frye) helps achieve that goal, so be it," said another source.
"There are very few sacred cows in this league anymore. Very few players are above any kind of trade talk or rumors or whatever. It happens all the time, especially during the offseason, and it just so happens that this time one of the names being talked about is Frye."
In many ways, it makes sense to at least have conversations about Frye's future should the team elect to pick either QB Brady Quinn or Jamarcus Russell in this year's draft. Moving Frye would avoid what would certainly be an uncomfortable tenure for the local product as a top draft choice waits in the wings. The less-hyped Derek Anderson could serve as an effective placeholder until Russell or Quinn are ready.Assessing the potential market for Frye covers the team's bases for different eventualities in this year's draft, even if drafting a quarterback isn't foremost in the team's plans.
Of course, this time of the year, there is all manner of talk and innuendo floating around the league; some of the talk eventually comes to fruition, while most of it turns out to be agenda-laden drivel with little or no substance.
In this case, however, we have heard roughly the same talk coming from far too many people—people we have grown to trust as solid sources of information—for it to be simply ignored and brushed away. "Where there's smoke, there's fire" the old adage goes.
And, in this case, we are smelling something that has nothing to do with anything that happens to be clinging to the bottoms of our shoes.