Taylor: Circling the Browns

It's late in a successful season, but not everything may be as it appears. Could some of the recent upbeat talk about keeping the team together be somewhat... overstated? John Taylor has the scoop, again, as the Browns prepare to head down I-71 to face the Bengals.

---Browns fans were all a flutter earlier this month when Jamal Lewis told reporters that he'd be willing to sign yet another one-year deal to remain with the Cleveland Browns.  A source close to Lewis, however, throws a little bit of cold water over Lewis' encouraging words. "Sure, (a one-year contract is) an option, but, obviously, it's not the preferred option," the source told The OBR.  "We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out."

---Given the team's stunning turnaround in 2007, there is almost no situation that could result in Romeo Crennel not being the head coach in 2008.  That being said, there is also absolutely no truth to the rumors floating around that the Browns are talking extension with Crennel's agent.  There have been zero talks about a new contract according to sources connected to each of the sides.

---And the "Cowher-to-Cleveland" rumors?  Those have quieted down significantly since the beginning of the season, but, believe it or not, there are still some embers burning that have yet to be completely extinguished.  No, Randy Lerner's "people" have not spoken to Cowher's "people" in some time, but the chatter refuses to die a proper and—for now—necessary death.

---And, no, the Ravens' upper management did not meet with Bill Cowher.  There have, however, been conversations between persons connected with the Ravens and persons associated with the former Steelers head coach.  Nothing serious, mind you, but bases have been touched just in case there is an opening on the Ravens' sidelines in 2008 or Cowher "changes his mind" about remaining in the studio beyond 2007.

--- Believe it or not, we're going to come to the defense of a local journalist.  As reported by WKYC's Jim Donovan, when Eric Wright first injured his knee, there were indeed initial concerns from those close to the rookie that he'd be out for 4-6 weeks, with those fears shaded toward the latter end of the return spectrum.  However, the corner's knee progressed better than expected and made Donovan's initial report seem incorrect.  However, at least for a few days, the report was absolutely accurate.

--- For those contemplating how Albert Haynesworth would look in Brown & Orange in 2008, forget it.  Word out of Nashville is that it is a near certainty the Titans will slap the franchise tag on the soon-to-be free agent defensive lineman.  Provided they do not reach an agreement before the start of free agency, of course.  And while you're at it, you might as well cross Jared Allen off of any FA wish list you may have created.  He;s going to get slapped as well.

---Rob Chudzinski won't be the only Browns assistant coach in demand this offseason, at least in the opinion of several league insiders.  According to those in the know, defensive backs coach Mel Tucker could get a look if any defensive coordinator positions open up around the league.  Even though the defense is last in the league in scoring, most people around the NFL feel that the blame for that falls on the shoulders of Crennel—partly—and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham—mostly.

---Speaking of Grantham, some of the shine and luster may be off his 2006 star, but the DC is still being mentioned as a NFL head-coaching candidate. At least two front office sources we spoke to last week when researching the Chud/Atlanta rumors mentioned that Grantham's is still buzzing around head-coaching lists.

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