NFL front office types across the league are making their list and checking it twice in preparation of the free agent player signing period which commences on February 29th. As most teams have significant salary cap space available and a lesser number of big-name players have been made available, the race is on to land that perfect fit for a team seeking to improve its roster.
In Cleveland, the Browns are no exception. Looking to solidify the defensive line and add an impact player at linebacker, the Browns are hopng to strike quickly in free agency.
Q: Has tight end Kellen Winslow had surgery on his knee and if so what is his prognosis?
LA: Winslow, at the time of this writing, has not had a procedure done on the knee and is believed to be wavering on this. We may know more in the next week or so on what he is going to do.
UPDATE: The Orange and Brown Report have confirmed Winslow did have a procedure on his knee in the past few days. The procedure is believed to have been minor.
Q: Is LeCharles Bentley going to actually come to the OTA's and be a participant this off-season or are we looking at a training camp type of deal here, if he shows or practices at all?
LA: The more I hear about Bentley and his progress and health, the more I do believe he is going to make a legitimate run at getting on the practice field. His knee is never going to be what it was prior to the issues, but he is committed to playing in a Browns uniform and has taken his regiment to the extreme in anticipation of getting on the field.
Q: What is real deal on Derek Anderson? We hear all types of numbers and such thrown out there?
LA: Phil Savage has been steadfast in a three-year offer which the Anderson side has been opposed to. Now, the Anderson camp is closing in on the three-year offer, but the dollar value of the contract is not nearly what his camp wants. The Browns have upped the guaranteed dollars in the offer, but the Anderson offer does not rival the yearly average of what Tony Romo signed for in Dallas or Matt Schaub signed for in Houston.
Q: This team needs help along the defensive line in the worst way. With Corey Williams (Green Bay) getting the franchise tag there is now no hope to fix the issues this team has.
LA: Before we get ahead of ourselves here, Williams was not going to be the answer at the noise tackle position. I look at Williams as an end in the 3-4 mainly and a defensive tackle in the 4-3. With the Browns playing the 3-4, Williams potentially would have been an end on most occasions.
Q: The Browns need help at linebacker, is there really anyone available that can help?
LA: I do not see a destroyer type linebacker available in free agency and those are difficult to secure. The Browns need a physical presence in the middle, which may be not in the making through free agency. The best options overall to upgrade the entire state of the linebackers are Victor Hobson (Jets), Lance Briggs (Bears) and Calvin Pace (Cards).
Q: Not much has been mentioned about the availability of cornerback Asante Samuel and safety Eugene Wilson of New England. The Cleveland defensive backfield was inconsistent last season and could use this influx of talent, agree?
LA: Samuel is a tremendous talent and is going to garner a significant contract somewhere. While the state of the Browns defensive backfield was improving over the second-half of the season, there remains room for growth. Due to the youth and relative inexperience at the positions, improvement is expected. While Samuel has been discounted by many covering this team, I would not be overly quick to throw this to the side, there is an element within this organization that believes an absolute shut-down corner would greatly improve this defense and provide other opportunities.
As for Wilson, he is a nice player and plays well within the New England system. I do not see him being a player which the Browns see as a priority type at this time.
Q: Where is the most help needed on this team and can it be fixed in one off-season?
LA: The defensive side of the ball is the obvious choice. The organization must improve quality and depth along the defensive line and add youth, size and athleticism at linebacker. Both areas of this roster have been a disappointment and nearly all players fitting into these categories are replaceable.
With the right moves, these areas could be dramatically improved in one off-season. Also, a different coaching philosophy and coaching eye may elevate the consistency and overall skill-set of some on the roster.