News is more sparse these days now that the 2002 season as concluded. For example, as of 9AM, it appears that the Plain Dealer has nothing Browns-related at all this Sunday. There is still good stuff out there for Browns fans to digest, however, and we've loaded it onto the Newswire.
There are a number of recaps of last year to be found this morning, including a multi-article look back on the season by the Akron Beacon-Journal. The Canton Repository continues to focus on the addition of Dave Campo, as Steve Doerschuck provides an in-depth look into Campo's philosophy.
Perhaps the most interesting new development is the Dayton Daily News' story on Carmen Policy. The team's President offers, as he did on the radio and in the press earlier this week, his opinion on a his developing relationship with team heir Randy Lerner. Policy offers flatly that he doesn't intend to go anywhere and is sounding like he plans to stick around.
Earlier this week, Policy waved off a report which was linked on this site's tipline and referenced by Canton Repository reporter Steve Doerschuck. The report, from Internet site AskTheCommish.com, suggested that the Browns were one of the worst teams in the league against the salary cap. Although Policy did not reference the estimated cap figure directly, he did state that the team would be able to be aggressive in approaching free agents.
Given Policy's history as a "salary cap wizard", and as an executive who has pushed against the boundaries of NFL rules in dealing with the cap, Browns fans should assume that the team has the right person in place to navigate difficult salary cap waters. Policy's words should be taken with a grain of salt, since he's only expressing that the team will be able to go after free agents. This doesn't refute the figures in the report by AskTheCommish, and could be accomplished by cutting players, renegotiating contracts, or making trades.
An even larger grain of salt, however, should accompany any salary cap reports that are found around the Internet.
There are a number of challenges for anyone who attempts to discern where teams stand against the cap. First and foremost is the lack of detail available to reporters and researchers regarding individual player contracts. While the details of some contracts are revealed, many details are not available or may be misreported in the press. In many cases, salary cap researchers need to make assumptions about bonuses and the size of contracts. The phrase "contract details have not been revealed" has appeared in a large number of reports on this site and in the press since 1999.
The second challenge regarding salary cap calculations is that the cap figure for 2003 has not been set. The salary cap is determined as a percentage of how much money the league makes, and that value has not been determined for next year. The report linked in the tipline assumes $75 million as the cap figure for next year, but the actual value may be more or less.
In talking with AskTheCommish via email about their salary cap calculations, a website representative informed me that the team's salary cap numbers were calculated by using publicly available research sources such as local papers and sites such as USAToday.com which cover the NFL. A CBS Sportsline report from last October was useful to them in setting a benchmark. I was informed that "Browns information was difficult to come by".
Over the last several weeks, I have been attempting to calculate Browns salary cap numbers using many of the same resources as AskTheCommish. Determining these numbers is, at best, an inexact science, as that the information provided to those outside the team is incomplete. This is not to denegrate the job done by the folks at AskTheCommish or any other reports that you find - it's simply a difficult number to calculate and fans are unlikely to find any reports that are fully accurate.
While many may view Policy's response to the estimates with a skeptical eye as feel-good patter from a team executive, it would also make sense to view any salary cap reports found on the Internet with the same skeptical eye.
Sometimes, after all, the truth isn't out there. Sometimes the truth is locked up in a safe where we're not allowed to see it.