Rich's Rant: More News, More Views

Think the veteran sportswriter could resist commenting about the Browns off-season? Think again. Rich Passan leaves no Browns topic without the blessing of his opinion...

More News and Views . . .

News: The Browns crash through the free-agency barrier with the signings of tight end Robert Royal, safety Mike Adams, defensive lineman C.J. Mosley, and defensive back Hank Poteat.

Views: Hard to keep from yawning. Is this the best the Browns can do out of the chute?

Robert Royal? A 31-year-old (in May) tight end who operates mostly on the periphery of the pro football world? Mike Adams, a backup at best? C.J. Mosley, who couldn't start in New York with the Jets? And we're holding our collective breath on David Bowens, a 32-year-old (in July) journeyman linebacker who promises to be another backup. How exciting.

Some fans will buy into the notion that these signings are to insure the quality of depth at certain positions. I didn't realize the Browns were so well set with their starters that depth was one of the club's biggest needs. Must have missed the memo on that one.

The club says Royal is a good blocker. OK, but so are incumbents Steve Heiden and Darnell Dinkins, who are better at that aspect of the game than Martin Rucker. So unless the club goes to a unique four tight-end set, someone's playing time is going to be severely limited. Wave bye-bye to Dinkins.

What the Browns need is a tight end who can catch the ball with some regularity now that Kellen Winslow Jr. is wearing the crimson and pewter down in Tampa. And Rucker figures to be the man.

So where does that leave Royal? There's a good reason the Buffalo Bills chose not to bring him back. He's not that good. The most optimistic thing you can say about Royal is he has improved his statistics in every one of his six seasons. Just barely.

But 33 catches in 15 games last season for a paltry 350 yards is not what the Browns need at that position. They need much better production than that. And they're not going to get it from Royal.

To put it in better perspective, Winslow had 214 catches in the last three seasons for 2,409 yards and 11 touchdowns. Royal had 112 receptions for 1,081 yards and 12 TDs in six seasons.

As for Adams, the mediocrity continues. He's a career backup for a reason. He's not that good. But at least he's glad he's back.

"I'm happy to be coming back to a great situation with a great organization," Adams told following the signing. "They are giving me the opportunity to compete for a starting job . . . and I couldn't be more excited to be staying put in Cleveland."

Great situation? Check. Right now, he's the starter at strong safety since Sean Jones bolted for Philadelphia. It's understandable why Adams would feel that way.

Great organization? Well, that depends strictly on your perspective. Considering the Browns were probably the only team to offer a contract to Adams, why else would he think differently? Of course he's excited. If he starts this season, the Browns' interior secondary is in trouble.

Mosley is insurance in the event Robaire Smith and Corey Williams fail to recover sufficiently from injuries. He'll be this season's Shaun Smith. And why is Shaun Smith still on the roster?

Bowens, if he signs with the Browns, is a backup. Has been for a long time. The only way he starts is if someone gets hurt.

News: The Browns hold the line of ticket prices for the 2009 season.

Views: Well, what did you expect after a 4-12 record last season, the front office being blown out the doors in Berea and a national economy that is in the toilet?

"After careful consideration, we decided not to change our ticket pricing for the upcoming seasons," Browns President Mike Keenan said in a prepared statement. "We hope this . . . will ensure an affordable product and provide our fans with greater flexibility when they purchase their 2009 season tickets."

Careful consideration? You mean the club actually gave some thought to raising ticket prices? That's the way it sounds.

How magnanimous of the Browns to tow the line, along with about three-fourths of the National Football League.

Why even broadcast that there will be no rise in ticket prices? Just shut up and announce nothing. Fans would assume the prices would remain the same.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces he is taking a 20-25% pay cut as the league slashes its work force by 15%.

Views: What a guy. Goodell is whacking more than 20% off his paycheck in a show of solidarity. Let's put him up for consideration for the good guy award.

What's that you say? Goodell earns $11 million a year? And that's all he's taking off?

Maybe President Obama should step in and cap the commish's salary at 500 thousand per as he's doing with the top executives of companies that receive government rescue money.

The Oakland Raiders beat out the San Francisco 49ers to sign free-agent quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

Views: Is that the same Bruce Gradkowski who started the final game of the season for the Browns and completed five passes and threw two interceptions in 16 attempts for 18 yards? That Bruce Gradkowski? I didn't realize the Raiders were that desperate for a backup to JaMarcus Russell.

What were they thinking? Or the 49ers, for that matter? Have they lowered the bar that much in the NFL?

Eric Mangini still hasn't completed his coaching staff two months after being named the Browns' head coach.

Views: At first blush, it appears as though putting together a coaching staff has proved more troublesome than Mangini expected.

Why the problem? Could it be that Mangini's reputation in the pro coaching community took a hit with the Spygate allegations?

The search for a wide receivers coach on his 16-man staff (it was 20 last season under Romeo Crennel) has dragged on well beyond the point one would expect a candidate to be named.

It has been so difficult that the last three appointees, offensive quality control coach George McDonald, running backs coach Gary Brown and linebackers coach Matt Eberflus, were recruited from the collegiate ranks. No pro coaches available?

Chances are the next wide receivers coach will arrive from the same ranks.

A quick perusal of the staff thus far reveals a distinct New York Jets flavor. Nearly of a third of them worked for Mangini last season in New York: Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, defensive line coach Bryan Cox, secondary coach Jerome Henderson, defensive quality control coach Andy Dickerson and assistant strength and conditioning coach Rick Lyle.

The only holdovers from the Crennel regime are strength and conditioning coach Tom Myslinksi and his assistant, Alan DeGennaro.


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