John Taylor's "Rumor Has It..."

John Taylor has burned off his ear and decimated his Rolodex so he can tell you exclusives like: Phil Dawson's next steps, what insiders are really saying about Braylon, the likelihood of a Thomas Jones deal, and more on the horrific Indentured Servitude Bus Tour.

--Barring a last-minute -- and unexpected -- change of heart, kicker Phil Dawson will participate in the upcoming mandatory minicamp, The Orange & Brown Report has learned.  Dawson has not taken part in the two "voluntary" camps thus far this offseason, due in large part, it's believed by the club, to his dissatisfaction over his contract and/or the pace of talks on a new deal.

--People in the organization who have been around since Braylon Edwards was drafted with the third-overall pick of the 2005 draft say he's in the best shape physically and, perhaps most importantly, mentally he's been in the last four years.  "It's almost like he used this offseason to take a big deep breath and regroup," one source said.  Perhaps most importantly was how Edwards responded to the trade rumors that swirled around him throughout the course of the offseason; he didn't.  Rather, he's of the mindset to prove the Browns correct in not jumping at the myriad deals that were on the table in the months leading up to the draft.

--The Browns and the agent for linebacker D'Qwell Jackson began talks on a contract extension shortly after the end of the 2009 NFL draft and, given the tenor of the talks thus far, it would come as no surprise if a new agreement was reached before the start of the regular season.  It's been intimated by sources close to Jackson that he is looking for a contract that contains guaranteed money in the $10-$12 million range -- at least.  It seems as though the Browns are amenable to the numbers being tossed out by the Jackson camp, but there is still some slightly-more-than-minor tweaking to be done before a deal is finally consummated.

--Speaking of Jackson, the LB is held in very high regard by the new coaching staff, particularly head coach Eric Mangini.  Jackson's intelligence, attention to detail and high-motor has impressed the new regime since the first time they sat down and really dove into film study of the current roster.  Mangini and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan view Jackson as a lynchpin of the defense, one who could be a staple on that side of the ball for years to come.  Additionally, and even with the veteran additions to the defense this offseason, Jackson is expected to be a leader -- the leader -- of the unit both vocally in the locker room and with his performance on the field. 

--There continues to be rumblings that the Browns have an interest in disgruntled New York Jets running back Thomas Jones, but we have obtained nothing of substance to back that ongoing rumor up.  If there is any interest, it likely wouldn't come to fruition -- or even heat up, for that matter -- until a current member of the backfield goes down with an injury.

--The coaching staff has no preference -- none, nada, nil -- as to who the starting quarterback is, other than siding with the one they feel gives them the best chance to win.  Unlike the previous regime, there are no agendas that will provide the impetus for a decision on a starter; rather, the best man, in the eyes of Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, will win the starting job.  That being said, those close to the team privately admit they would be somewhat surprised if Brady Quinn didn't open up the season under center.

--The defensive coaching staff is "cautiously optimistic" they can get Kamerion Wimbley back to his rookie-year production level -- if not higher.  While they wouldn't get into specifics, two Browns sources stated that they feel the linebacker was misused by the former coaching staff, and feel that there's untapped talent and potential they can get out of the former first-round draft pick that went unrealized for the past two seasons.

--The more the Browns see of rookie running back James Davis, the more liberally they privately throw around the word "steal" in regards to the sixth-round draft pick.  While he has yet to don a set of pads or been involved in contact at this level, Davis has impressed the offensive coaches and could be in line for a significant role-- relatively speaking -- once the curtain opens on the 2009 season.

--The Browns have held preliminary discussions with the agents for all eight of their 2009 draft picks, but, as of this weekend, no contracts were imminent.  That being said, there should be no issues whatsoever in getting all of the draftees signed and in training camp on time.

--I spoke to the agents of several players who participated in the controversial -- or, "media-contrived happening" if you will -- bus trip to work at Mangini's youth camp, and not a single one expressed any type of frustration, angst or shock over the "voluntary" excursion.  Now, does that mean every single person was onboard with the exercise? Of course not.  However, I've yet to come across a single person who would state either on or off the record that this "thing" was as slavish as has been portrayed by some media outlets.


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