At least for the moment, the rumors of free agency and the draft have been replaced by an issue that could have the biggest impact on the 2007 season.
The health of tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.
According to a report on the popular website ProFootballTalk.com titled "Browns not counting on Winslow", there is a good chance the tight end will miss the 2007 season. The site also reported that there are whispers that Winslow may never play again.
If that is indeed the case, it's news to the Cleveland Browns.
While no one within the organization would go on the record regarding the Winslow situation, three sources have told The OBR that, in not so many words, the report is simply untrue at this time.
According to one source, there's always a chance that the player won't return from a surgery, especially one like what Winslow underwent. But...
"From what we've been told Kellen's rehab has gone better than expected and he should be ready to start football-related activity in June," the source said. "There could always be a setback but that's not expected."
A second source was even more direct in his response to the story.
"Those reports are simply false. He's ahead of schedule and doing fine. He's been off crutches for over a week. They're just not true."
There have been reports that Winslow was spotted at a local college with other members of the Browns playing pickup games of basketball, but those reports could be neither confirmed nor denied by The OBR. A report from Adam Schefter of the NFL Network earlier this evening stated that Winslow has been off crutches for two weeks.
Winslow underwent microfracture surgery on his knee in late January, which has caused this latest round of injury whispers.
As for Winslow's expected return, yet another source backed Phil Savage's statement from last month, where the general manager targeted June or July as Winslow's return date.
"Phil said last month that we expect him back and he'd be ready to go by June or July," the source said. "We don't know if that will include the OTAs. Nothing has changed on our end."
"OTA's" are Organized Team Activities, which began in Berea today.
So, what does all of this mean?
This report could very well end up being true, given the sensitive and still somewhat experimental nature of the surgery he underwent. At this time, though, it appears that his rehab is going either as well or better than expected.
Of course, he could have a setback and all of this discussion would become moot.
We'll find out for certain--probably--come the end of July.
While the Browns continue to sniff around free-agent defensive lineman Kindal Moorehead, two teams have entered the fray for the lineman's services.
Kirk Wood, Moorehead's agent, told The OBR that he spoke with both the Lions and Falcons today. Wood has stayed in contact with the Browns over the last two weeks, and expects to talk to the Browns again tomorrow.
Additionally, the Panthers, Moorehead's team the past four seasons, maintain an interest in re-signing the 6'2", 285-pound end.