Even as I'm now associated with Mike Florio in my capacity as a writer on CollegeFootballTalk.com, I will still call bullspit on his recent report regarding Brady Quinn.
The simple fact is, the "lukewarm" inclinations toward Quinn indicated in Florio's piece fly in the face of everything I've heard since the new regime stepped foot in Berea. From off-the-record conversations – which are admittedly waaay down compared to the previous regime – to the sit-down conversations with owner Randy Lerner and head coach Eric Mangini, the organization has not been slanted one way or the other toward Quinn. And, it should be noted, the same can be said for Derek Anderson.
This organization, a league source said, "is playing this quarterbacking situation perfectly", and I would tend to agree with that based on that and additional conversations with others around the league.
From those talks, it seems as if the Cleveland Browns are doing a masterful job of keeping Anderson's trade value afloat should they decide to go in that direction – which they haven't, mind you.
And that's the thing: no decision has been made on what direction they will go at the position. Not based on the information I've received.
Could a trade occur involving Anderson? Absolutely. Is a trade even remotely imminent? Absolutely not.
What is certain is that the Browns are methodically working their way through the process as it relates to the QB position, and will not allow rumors or reports to dictate when the process will reach its conclusion or where it will lead.
--Shaun Rogers can huff and puff (whine and cry?) all he wants about wanting to leave Cleveland, but, barring a seismic shift in the new regime's thinking, the hulking (sulking?) defensive lineman will not force the Browns' hand on this issue. As one league source said early this morning, "This will not be a Laveranues Coles situation. Eric Mangini would never let him do that or create that."
Yet another source had his own spin on the Rogers brouhaha, "I think this has been blown way out of proportion. It's not something I've heard of and would be surprised if it were the complete truth."
Regardless of what is happening now, it seems likely to blow over within the next month or so. Rogers, more than likely, will have no choice but for it to happen exactly that way.
--While the Browns are indeed looking to create cap space, one player they have not looked at as a possibility is Eric Steinbach. A Browns source tells The OBR that the club has not been in contact with the agent for the offensive lineman, nor do they have any plans to do so in the near future. "If (the Browns) we're going to do it, it would've happened (at the recently-completed Indianapolis combine)," the source said. Steinbach, incidentally, will carry a cap number of roughly $6.37 million in 2009.
--The following comes from a Browns source, when asked what the club's strategy in free agency will be this year: "If you're asking if you'll see a so-called 'big ticket signing' right out of the gate, I'd suggest you not get your hopes up. Anything's possible, but is it likely? Probably not. We'll see. As with every other year, it just depends on the market and how nuts teams go in those first 12-18 hours."
--One NFL agent who prefers not to be named says that kind of strategy could bear fruits for the Browns if it's indeed the course they choose to take. "I think there's going to be a lot of quality players available once the initial frenzy dies down," the agent said last night. "Some good players are going to be available at a relative bargain. Teams like the Browns could benefit if the process plays out the way a lot of us think it will."
--As it stands now, the Browns will have roughly $17 million in cap space with which to work once the bell rings to open free agency. That number could go higher as the day progresses; there are rumblings that cuts could – could – be coming which would create additional space. We have been hearing increasing chatter involving several players, including starting right tackle Kevin Shaffer, but have yet to get anything definitive.
--Incidentally, the above number has the bonus of Donte Stallworth taken into account. Talks are ongoing between the Browns and Stallworth's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, but the bottom line still appears to be the organization will not opt to pick up the roster bonus due the receiver in the middle of March. Multiple messages left for Rosenhaus over the course of the last two weeks have yet to be returned.
--Yes, Jim Leonhard will be on the Browns' radar – as one league source rhetorically asked, "Why?" – once free agency opens, but don't discount Sean Jones returning to Cleveland either. Neither side has pushed that option off the table, and both will allow the market to dictate the safety's value. Once that's established, then the real negotiating can commence.
--Multiple league sources have said over the course of this week that linebacker Bart Scott will either stay with the Ravens or bolt for the Jets in free agency. That doesn't mean the Browns won't pursue Scott if he's available; they will, but he will likely -- likely -- be out of the Browns' price range after Scott's camp uses the Cleveland interest to drive up the price tag if/when he hits the open market. Given the personality of new general manager George Kokinis, however, the creativity and persuasiveness he possesses could push the Browns back into the picture.