Adkins: The Inside Skinny

The Browns appear to be standing still in the early days of free agency, but looks can be deceiving. Lane Adkins looks at what's churning underneath the surface, with updates on the status of existing players (DA, Edwards, Stallworth) and free agents of interest to the Browns (such as Derrick Ward, pictured)...

- Trading TE Kellen Winslow was the right thing to do, though we are somewhat surprised it occurred so quickly. Earlier in the week theOBR was told that any trade involving Winslow or WR Braylon Edwards was unlikely. In the case of Winslow, there were a couple teams expressing an interest in the TE. The trade with Tampa Bay occurred after numerous discussions this off-season, and late during the scouting combine in Indianapolis. The deal was struck when the Buccaneers agreed to sending the team multiple picks - with one being a first day selection in 2009.

- As for Edwards, the Browns organization is in not in a hurry to trade away its number one wide receiver. As the off-season progresses, the organization will instigate further talks to determine whether Edwards wants to be part of the organization in the future. The bottom-line is this: If the receiver is receptive to an extended contract and buys into the philosophy of the organization, he will be well-rewarded financially. If not, the organization does appear poised to deal him off in order to recoup draft selections and or a player to add quality depth to the playing roster.

- WR Donte Stallworth remains a member of the Browns and his future with the team has not been completely decided. The Browns owe the wide receiver a bonus which is believed to be scheduled anywhere from the middle to the end of March. With fans surprised that the oft-injured receiver is on the roster, theOBR has sought out the representative for the player to learn if Stallworth's contract has stipulations integrated to become guaranteed in the player is released or traded.

- As we talked with fans on the OBR forums and chat room over the weekend, it became clear that fans are becoming unsettled at the lack of activity in the early days of the free agency. Accustomed to the team being active and making a statement early in the process, the 2009 version under general manager George Kokinis and head coach Eric Mangini has left a large fan-base disappointed - especially after coming off a 4-12 season. Fear not: The Browns organization has held numerous discussions with player representatives as well as contract discussions with a few. As the immediate storm of outlandish deals begin to slow, the Browns will be a player in the market. Players who might be deemed as "above average" rather than "upper tier" appeal to this Browns organization at this stage in the game, and with their financial situation. The team is seeking to fill numerous depth and a number of potential starting roles, and require more bang for their buck rather than a handful of flashy signings. This, of course, is a far cry from the activity under former general manager Phil Savage.

- To be clear, the Browns were in discussions with CB Andre Goodman, but were never at the point of entering into significant negotiations. On the other hand, the Browns were in negotiations with safety James Sanders and were in the running until Sanders returned to New England for an offer similar to what the Browns offered. The Browns did offer a package which could have netted the defensive back more compensation if certain incentives and bonuses were achieved, but was not massively better financial package as might be inferred from some of the media coverage in Boston.

- If free agent safety Jim Leonhard escapes the grasp of the New York Jets without a contract, the Browns are said to be a spot the defensive back will visit soon afterward. Leonhard's reps were contacted by the Browns early in the signing period process, as reported by the OBR on Friday.

- Plenty of talk has surrounded the status of free agent WR Laverneaus Coles and the Cleveland Browns. Coles, a former WR with the Jets while Mangini was the head coach, appears to be natural fit for a Browns team seeking quality, experience and depth at the position. While it is believed Coles has not visited the Browns, indications are the WR and the Browns have talked recently. Coles has a contract offer from the Buffalo Bills and is expected to decide where he is going to play within the next 24-48 hours. Stay tuned.

- Looking at the holes within the Browns roster, it is easy to believe the team is going to look toward players who have a history with Mangini and Kokinis to fill the void. While the Browns have been flying under the media radar in free agency to this point, they have been active and have talked with as many as five former players associated with both men in some capacity. Look for a couple players from these associations to be inked to deals by the team in the days to come.

- Nothing new to report on the trade speculation surrounding QB Derek Anderson. A rumor surfaced that the Browns were engaged in discussions for either QB Brady Quinn or Anderson in the past 24-hours. We have been told the team has not discussed the QB's with the Broncos, who were known to be open to changes at the quarterback position.  Our source, however, stopped short of saying the team had not been in discussions with any other organization.

- Free agent RB Derrick Ward appears to be a little unsettled in the FA market. The demand for the running back has not been nearly as driven as his representation has expected, and the player has not overwhelmed in a couple visits he had since the start of the player signing period. Let's remember, however, that Ward is going to Denver for a visit and the Broncos are signing nearly any player that lands in Denver to a contract. If he escapes Denver without a deal, it will become interesting to follow the developments. Ward has spoken with the Browns and there is mutual interest.

- All the talk surrounding the issue involving nose tackle Shaun Rogers and the team remains unsettling. The story has been told over and over - and the total story remains close to the vest. What we do know is, the massive lineman is unhappy and believes the organization has failed to live up to their end of the bargain as he was told when traded by the Lions to the Browns during the free agent player signing period a year ago. The belief is that the new regime in Cleveland was simply unaware of promises or words of wisdom former GM Phil Savage used to sell Rogers on being a Brown. Making matters worse, the head coach and general manager had opportunities to talk with the player before the player became upset. On the other hand, Mangini and Kokinis have been holed-up in Berea for weeks and have not been difficult to find - as others within the roster have found out by venturing into the complex and talking with the coach.


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