While the NFL plays out the end of the 2007 season, teams like the Browns are already cranking through plans for 2008. The coaching staff has already had changes, and the team is continuing their evaluation of the roster.
Here's what I've been hearing:
- The organization intends on making a significant effort to retain nose tackle Ethan Kelley. The staff likes his physical ability and the determined play he demonstrated after replacing the aging Ted Washington. Although he was considered to be a project when training camp started, Kelley elevated his status during the 2007 season.
- Shaun Smith played reasonably well as a defensive end and nose tackle during the 2007 season. Strong indications from a voice within the organization are that the team would like to get Smith back to the nose tackle position and add a quality, experienced defensive end in free agency.
- Defensive end Orpheus Roye has battled knee woes for the better part of two seasons, but does not appear poised to call it a career just yet. Roye is expected to give it all he has this off-season and if the knee issues persist he may call it a career.
- Linebacker Chaun Thompson is a free agent and would like an opportunity to play on a consistent basis. With veteran outside linebacker Willie McGinest in the twilight of his career, an opportunity could be presenting itself. The problem for Thompson is that the Browns have shown minimal interest (as of last week) in getting a deal done with him.
- A source in Baltimore close to Jamal Lewis tells the Orange and Brown Report that the running back likes to let his former teammates know how solid a locker room and organization the Browns are, as well as he expects to be in a Cleveland uniform for the foreseeable future.
- When Vice President and General Manage Phil Savage discusses the future of the quarterback position and Derek Anderson, specifically, believe what he says. Savage would indeed would like to sign the signal-caller, but not at the numbers Matt Schaub of Houston and Dallas' Tony Romo received. At this time the organization views a starting point of the Romo salary ($67 million over six-years) unrealistic.
- Tight-end Kellen Winslow is taking it a bit easier since the season has concluded. Winslow is working out and has not determined if/when he is going to have a procedure on his surgically repaired knee to provide him relief. The Pro Bowl is a goal he set for himself prior to the season, and he may have the opportunity to play if Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers passes on the honor. Regardless, look for Winslow to determine his off-season fate in the next six-to-eight weeks.
- A little tidbit regarding departing defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. The former defensive coordinator wanted more physical play from the linebackers and was not happy with the "methodical" play of certain inside linebackers.
- According to team sources, no fewer than four players discussed the state of the defense, as well as the former coordinator specifically, with head coach Romeo Crennel following the season.
- Upon the promotion of defensive backs coach Mel Tucker to the defensive coordinator position, one player tells the Orange and Brown Report, "Now we have a coach that knows how to get through to the players, will keep an ear open for thoughts and will let players get after it."