It's the off-season and it's all about the rumors, per usual.
Like every off-season, rumors and speculation are making the rounds from team general mangers down to the hopeful fans tracking the off-season news. In Cleveland the tale is no different.
With the off-season about to kick into high gear, here is what we have heard and our reactions to the latest buzz:
THE RUMOR: Cleveland, in need of a WR, could have their sights set on Minnesota's under-achieving burner Troy Williamson. Williamson was the seventh overall selection of the Vikings a few short seasons ago, but has fallen out of favor with the team due to his inability to hang onto the football and nagging injury issues.
THE SKINNY: The Browns need a wide receiver to compliment Braylon Edwards and a speed player that can hold onto the football would be a solid fit. Giving up anything other than a conditional draft selection for Williamson would be ludicrous, as he has failed to display the ability to make an impact. That being said, if the Browns do not make a move in free agency early in the process, I could see them being interested in taking a flyer on Williamson. But only if the price is right.
THE SKINNY: Numerous league types have told us that the Browns are not completely sold on Anderson and will not do anything to hamper the long-term future of starter-in-waiting Brady Quinn. Phil Savage has been steadfast during negotiations on the length and overall dollar value of a deal for Anderson. Additionally, there has been some talk going round that Anderson is a product of the system, but whether this is coming out of the Browns organization is unknown.
THE RUMOR: Offensive lineman LeCharles Bentley is not going to be able to participate in any off-season training with the team and his knee is going to either force him to announce his retirement or the team is going to release him.
THE SKINNY: While I do not believe Bentley can return to the All-Pro status he enjoyed prior to injury, Bentley is going to return to Cleveland and work with the team. His contract was restructured and he seriously believes he is going to be a player in the 2008 season. Seeing is believing, but I hope him the best.
THE RUMOR: Kellen Winslow's surgery was more than a simple cleaning up of the knee and information has been released to cover-up the issue by the Browns.
THE SKINNY: False. Winslow did have a very minor procedure done and he was in-and-out. Winslow is up on his feet and has been spotted in a suburb of Cleveland. No, I am not giving out the location and have to live with a Kellen stalker on my conscience.
THE RUMOR: Super agent Drew Rosenhaus is going to hold the Browns hostage, all in an attempt to get the Browns to deal Winslow to a warm climate, which he prefers.
THE SKINNY: Rosenhaus is a great agent and gets results. While he has a reputation as a single-minded man who only cares about the money, Rosenhaus has also negotiated deals which helped his client stay with a team, at a reduced price. There is a reason why many players migrate towards him, and that is because he takes care of his clients and has working relationships with teams. When a team heads into a negotiation with Rosenhaus, they know the parameters. And, don't buy into the trade theory... Winslow wants to be with this team and this is all about getting the guaranteed dollars, not compensation based on any further incentives.
THE RUMOR: The Browns were locked on defensive lineman Corey Williams of the Packers in free agency. With Williams off the board now, the team is looking at Colin Cole of the Packers.
THE SKINNY: The Browns are believed to be interested in Williams. Even though the Packers have tagged the defensive lineman, he may be available for the right price. Green Bay has depth along the defensive line and may be willing to deal for a high draft selection. With respect to Cole, the Browns like the big, restricted free agent defensive lineman and may have let their interest in Williams slip out to seriously entertain the Cole option.
THE RUMOR: Braylon Edwards is getting a new agent and will requesting the Browns to renegotiate his contract in the near future.
THE SKINNY: True, this has been an objective on the Browns side and will be on the table with the Edwards group.
THE RUMOR: It has been speculated that the Browns are going to release veteran defensive end Orpheus Roye in the off-season.
THE SKINNY: We noted as the season was winding down that Roye was on the fence due to the toll that injuries have taken on his knees. I suppose some jumped on-board with us on this, but Roye is not expected back and it may not be a decision of the team. If he calls it quits, expect the organization to make a deal with him, showing their appreciation for everything he has contributed.
THE RUMOR: The Atlanta Falcons have an interest in Derek Anderson and are behind the scenes working to get something structured for him or the Browns.
THE SKINNY: This one has been out there, but we have been told by a member of the ‘new' Falcons organization this is not the case at this time. Still, they remain intruiged with Anderson.
THE RUMOR: The Browns are targeting several linebackers in free agency. If successful a starter in the 2007 season could be released, with McGinest possibly being let go.
THE SKINNY: True. There is a very strong indication the organization could release a player or two, if free agency plays out in a favorable way. And no, I don't see Willie McGinest shutting it down just yet, but he is getting very close.