EXCLUSIVE: The Silence Of The Phones

So, Joe Horn, are you on a plane yet? Ty Law, how's it going? The OBR's John Taylor gets to the bottom of how the Cleveland Browns are reacting to their initial loss to the Cowboys.

Looking for the Browns to add another receiver? There's nothing to see here. Move on.

Even with a less-than-100% Josh Cribbs – he of the scant "real" experience at the position to begin with – the dinged-up and enigmatic Donte' Stallworth, and the very raw and very green tandem of Syndric Steptoe and Steve Sanders – whose only real-game experience in the NFL occurred last week – manning the position? Sir, m'am , please, move on. There is nothing to see here.

Hoping for the Browns to add a veteran to prop-up a depth-challenged secondary or a talent-challenged linebacking corps? OK, this is your last warning. Move on.

Right or wrong, personnel-wise, that's where the Browns stand right now. And will likely remain standing for the week leading up to the critical divisional showdown. Standing pat and preparing for perhaps the most critical game since their return in 1999.

Over the course of the day yesterday, The OBR attempted to contact the agents for 27 NFL veterans at varying positions of perceived need currently out of work. We eventually heard back from 21 of them. Of the 21, exactly none of them had heard from the Cleveland Browns.

Needless to say, given the questions surrounding multiple positions on the depth chart, more than one eyebrow was raised by the silence of the phones.

"No, I haven't heard from them, which is kind of surprising to be quite honest," Peerless Price's agent, Tim McGee, told The OBR late yesterday afternoon. "Given their injury situation, you'd figure they'd be like the Titans and Seahawks and show at least a little bit of interest. But, no, I haven't heard from them."

"I don't understand it," Ralph Vitolo, the agent for receiver Joe Horn, told The OBR. "Who do they have there? Joe could help, and he wants to come to Cleveland. But for whatever reason, the front office just isn't interested, it seems."

As The OBR reported in recent weeks, and was reiterated by a Browns source yesterday, there are members of the coaching staff – with senior offensive assistant Dave Atkins being the most vocal – who have been pleading with Phil Savage and company to add some veteran help, in particular and especially at the receiver position.

"With Joe (Jurevicius) being out, then Donte', you saw what happened (in the loss to the Cowboys). I really don't think much else needs to be said," a Browns source grumbled.

One agent, who refused to allow his name to be used for this piece, relayed a conversation he had with an unnamed member of the Browns' defensive staff.

"He told me ‘I'm pushing, a bunch of us are pushing for some help, some veterans. It's almost to the point where you just throw up your hands and just go about your business'", the agent said he was told.

When given the premise for this story, one Browns source became slightly agitated. When given the specifics of the conversations, the same source became downright incredulous.

"Do people think we've forgotten how to build a football team? We should just implode everything and start all over after one loss? I don't get it. I really don't.

"Could we use some help, some veteran help, at certain positions? I could see how someone could probably make the case for that. But there are 31 other teams in the league who aren't and won't be 100% healthy, and 15 of them lost their first game. Are they blowing up the roster they spent all off-season and training camp building after Week One? C'mon. We'll always be looking to upgrade the roster, but we aren't going to make a move just to say that we made one."

In particular, the source wanted to expound on the agent's contention that some members of the coaching staff were upset at the lack of moves.

"How long have you been doing this, ten years or so? You know as well as I that every single coach on every single staff of every single team is always in the ear of the front office looking to add this person or that person. Every coach wants 22 Ray Lewis's on defense and 22 Peyton Manning's on offense. It's the job of the front office to listen, and then decide what's best both in the short- and long-term. And the stance this week – whatever that is – isn't necessarily the one that will be in place next week."

And, since the source was seemingly in the mood to talk, we decided we had to ask the question: So, what exactly is the nature of Stallworth's injury and what did the MRI show?

"No comment."

Of course.


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