Stallworth: The Real Agenda

The true impact of signing WR Donte Stallworth may be on the ripple effects it has further down the Browns depth chart. Here are today's player notes, with some thoughts on how the Cleveland Browns will really benefit from their new receiver...

When the Browns signed Donte Stallworth to a seven-year contract to start opposite Braylon Edwards, what they really did was improve their third receiver position.

The new lineup leaves Stallworth and Edwards plus tight end Kellen Winslow as the starters in the base offense. The Browns should have more instant-offense than they did last year. Joe Jurevicius, a full-time starter in 2007 in his second year with the Browns and 10th in the NFL, would be the third receiver.

The move should not be interpreted as a demotion for Jurevicius, who says he plans to retire after the 2008 season. In fact, this could be a way for the 33-year-old veteran to squeeze one more season out of his body.

"Joe had come up at the end of the year and said he felt like being the number two receiver had taken somewhat of a toll on him as the season developed, so he would appreciate if we could go find a legitimate number two," general manager Phil Savage said. "I think this really clearly defines what each of them will be doing."

--Left tackle Joe Thomas and nose tackle Shaun Smith got a rousing ovation from fans in Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland recently when the two Browns walked out to the center of the floor to participate in the coin flip for the home opener of the Gladiators, Cleveland's entrant in the Arena Football League. This is the Gladiators' first season in Cleveland after moving from Las Vegas in October.

--DT Shaun Rogers, acquired in a trade with the Lions, pleased Romeo Crennel and the defensive coaches when he weighed in at 350 pounds for his physical. The Browns would like him to play around that weight during the season.

--While signing OL Rex Hadnot and re-signing Lennie Friedman indicates the Browns lack confidence LeCharles Bentley will play in 2008, they do expect Bentley to participate in the OTAs beginning in May. The offseason conditioning program begins March 17. Bentley originally signed a six-year contract in 2006. The contract was reworked after missing the first two seasons to allow Bentley to become a free agent after 2008.

--The search for a cornerback after trading Leigh Bodden to the Lions might end at an unlikely source -- Gary Baxter. Baxter missed the last 10 games of 2006 and all of 2007 after tearing both patellar tendons in a game against the Broncos two years ago. Baxter is an unrestricted free agent and the Browns would like to re-sign him, general manager Phil Savage said.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

It is only mid-March, but something that will bear watching in the weeks ahead is any renegotiations involving the contracts of right end Kellen Winslow Jr. and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Winslow is signed through 2010 and Edwards is signed through 2009.

Both players switched agents. Winslow is now represented by Drew Rosenhaus after leaving the Poston Brothers. Edwards' new agent is Tom Condon after leaving Lamont Smith.

Condon has not made demands for a new contract, but Rosenhaus has. The Browns are treating the Winslow situation delicately. If they do give Winslow a new contract, general manager Phil Savage knows the next knock on his door will come from Condon.

MEDICAL WATCH: TE Kellen Winslow Jr. is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery and should be ready for the organized team activities beginning in May. ... DL Ethan Kelley, an unrestricted free agent, is recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee. His return date is uncertain. ... WR Joe Jurevicius and LB Antwan Peek are making steady progress from arthroscopic knee surgery. ... G Isaac Sowells is expected to make a complete recovery from shoulder surgery in January and be ready for the OTAs.


The OBR Top Stories