In late April excitement resonated throughout the Browns' fanbase and Berea training facility thanks to the team's first three selection in the 2007 college player draft.
If there was an organization seeking something, anything, to get excited about and gain momentum toward a new season, it was the Browns.
All three players are being counted to play key roles in the future of this franchise. Each player excelled at the collegiate level and project to become solid players are the professional level. In the case of Thomas and Wright, an immediate contribution is expected, especially following an exceptionally strong showing by Wright during the team's off-season training activities and mini-camp sessions.
Quinn, however, is a player this team does not desire to rush.
The Cleveland front office does sincerely believe the notion they have their 2008 first round draft selection in house a year early, due to their draft day trade with the Cowboys. While the organization would not mind seeing Quinn compete and make the decision tougher on who to select as the starting quarterback of this team come September, they are not remotely pressing the issue.
Low and behold, orientation for the rookies begins today for the Browns, and the three rookie players the club dearly wants participating are unsigned.
This is not for the lack of effort, but nonetheless the three key players will be on the outside, looking in.
The first week of training camp (the veterans are required to report Thursday night/Friday morning) when the team and player can afford missed time. After this period, any time missed by a player can be detrimental to the progress, of not only the player, but the overall team. The Browns, implementating a new offensive scheme, as well as attempting to answer numerous roster issues, can not afford any lengthy hold-outs.
Of the three prized rookies, indications are Quinn is going to be the most difficult to get to an agreement. Sources tell the Orange and Brown Report that the rookie quarterback's representative, Tom Condon seeks multiple escalators in the contract, which would boost Quinn;s salary to that matching a top-ten draft selection (Quinn was selected with the 22nd overall selection in the draft). Making matters increasingly trying is the demand Quinn be compensated well above that of the player drafted in the like position is prior drafts.
The Orange and Brown Report has been informed the Browns have offered a deal to Quinn which easily dwarfs in comparison the overall dollars and guaranteed money to the 22nd pick in any previous draft. As of Saturday afternoon, the Browns and representatives for the quarterback were still far from a contract.
While much of the focus has been on the Quinn negotiations, talks between the Browns and representatives for cornerback Eric Wright have heated up.
Wright, selected with the 53rd overall selection in the draft seeks a deal which would potentially earn him first round draft selection money, although he was a second-round selection. Much same situation as with Quinn, the player is of the belief he should be compensated a level much higher than his actual selection position, since his representatives argue that it was not indicative of his talent level. The Orange and Brown Report has also learned escalators regarding the rookie starting, being named an All-Pro, and reaching certain individual statistics has been discussed to increase the overall contract value.
A deal with Wright is much closer today than it was a few days ago, but there is nothing imminent in regards to the discussions and the Orange and Report has been told talks will continue on Monday.
Over the past few weeks it has been reported Joe Thomas, the third overall selection in the draft, was likely to be a holdout. Contract numbers have been bandied back and forth between the Browns and representatives for the offensive lineman out of Wisconsin, with some promises being made. The Orange and Brown Report has learned that the vast majority of Thomas' contract language has been agreed upon. Both sides have been haggling over the length of the deal, as well as guaranteed dollars.
Negotiations have reached the point where both parties believe there is a chance Thomas could be in camp by Friday, but some compromise is required to get there.
Getting Thomas in camp is critical for the Browns, as he is expected to be the starter at left tackle this season. The entrance of Thomas permits the team to shift players around on the line to compete for starting positions, while a lengthy holdout would only set the plans for Thomas and the team behind.