If ever a team needed the lull between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp it is the Browns, because since being hired on Jan. 9 and the last practice of the minicamp in June it has been nonstop for new coach Eric Mangini.
By the time training camp ends, half the roster could be new. Not counting undrafted rookies, 19 free agents have been signed since the end of last season. Add eight drafted players to the list and the total is 27. If they all make the team the roster will have more than a 50 percent turnover. (List of moves below)
All three coordinators - Brian Daboll on offense, Rob Ryan on defense and Brad Seely on special teams - are new, hand-picked by Mangini. That is a change from the previous regime when former general manager Phil Savage found coaches for Romeo Crennel.
Something the Browns could not have prepared for before it happened had a ripple effect on the offseason. On March 14, wide receiver Donte Stallworth killed a pedestrian while driving while impaired. He was sentenced to only 30 days in jail for his crime, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was much harsher in his punishment. He suspended Stallworth indefinitely and in a letter to Stallworth said what was done was "inexcusable."
Fortunately for the Browns, the timing of the accident allowed them to find replacements for Stallworth by drafting wide receivers Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi and signing David Patten and Mike Furry in free agency, all after Stallworth got himself into trouble.
In 2007 when the Browns finished 10-6, the offensive line was considered a team strength, but last year's collapse revealed cracks Mangini and general manager George Kokinis felt an urgency to repair. They signed guard Floyd Womack plus tackles John St. Clair and George Foster in free agency and they used their first pick in the draft on center Alex Mack. Three of the four are likely to start.
Defensively the concentration of the overhaul was at linebacker. The Browns signed former Jet linebackers Eric Barton and David Bowens in free agency and they drafted Kaluka Maiava and David Veikune. Mangini spent the minicamps shifting fourth-year linebacker Kamerion Wimbley back and forth between the left and right side, all in the name of getting more pressure on the quarterback and improving the run defense.
Biggest move: A look at the roster Mangini and Kokinis inherited was enough to convince them the fifth pick in the first round was not going to fix everything. In a blockbuster trade, the Browns sent their pick to the Jets for the 17th pick in the first round, the Jets' pick in the second round and three players - defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam and quarterback Brett Ratliff. They then traded down twice more in the first round, got Mack, whom they had targeted, and two sixth-round draft picks which they used on cornerbacks Don Carey and Coye Francies.
Add it all up and the Browns got six players from one draft pick. They passed on some big name players even after trading down, including USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, so their 2009 draft, more than the trade itself, won't be rightly judged for years.
Biggest loss: Safety Sean Jones signed with the Eagles in free agency. The Browns showed no strong interest to re-sign him. Elam will have to have an impact for Jones to not be missed.
Needs addressing: The Browns still do not know the identity of their starting quarterback. Mangini said Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson will go into training camp dead even. He wants to see them in preseason games before naming a starter.
NEWS AND NOTES
--If Brett Favre ends up the starting quarterback of the Vikings his first opponent will be the Browns, coached by Eric Mangini, Favre's coach with the Jets last season. Favre's arm troubles and the Jets collapse the last six games arguably cost Mangini his job.
"I have not thought about that at all," Mangini said. "Whatever he decides, I wish him well. I haven't talked to Brett. I don't know what Brett is doing. I've been working on the other B-word, Browns."
During the NFL Scouting Combine in February, Mangini talked about inviting Favre to Browns training camp. That was when he assumed Favre really was retired. Mangini says the invitation is still out there.
"He would be welcome to come up and help out," Mangini said. "There would be no problem with that. There is nothing to read into that. That is all it is. If he wants to come by, it would be great. There is nothing else to read into that, zero. Zero"
--The Browns will not scrimmage against another team during training camp. Mangini believes more can be accomplished with 22 Browns instead of 11 on the field.
"We are not going to do that this year," Mangini said. "I am not generally against it. I've done it, worked against some other teams over the course of my career. I think there is some real value to that. I don't think it's important either way."
--Former Browns general manager Phil Savage has been hired as the color analyst for the University of Alabama football radio team.
Savage is from Mobile and he is close friends with Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban. Also, he was a graduate assistant at Alabama for three years in the late 1980s.
"I think Phil will do an excellent job with our radio broadcast," Saban said. "I've known and worked with Phil for almost 20 years and he is one of the most knowledgeable I've ever been around when it comes to analyzing the game of football from both a personnel and strategy standpoint. We are excited to have someone of Phil's caliber as a part of the Alabama football program."
Savage was signed through 2011 when he was fired after the Browns finished 4-12 last year.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--TE Brad Cieslak (ERFA rights terminated).
--OL Lennie Friedman (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--LB Kris Griffin (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--CB Daven Holly (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--LB Willie McGinest (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--LB Shantee Orr (not tendered as UFA June 1).
--DE Chase Pittman (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--S Mike Adams: UFA; $4.1M/3 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--FB Charles Ali: ERFA; terms unknown.
--WR Syndric Steptoe: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Eric Barton: UFA Jets; $11.15M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--LB David Bowens: FA Jets; $7.2M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--DE Kenyon Coleman (trade Jets).
--S Abram Elam (trade Jets).
--OT George Foster: FA Lions; terms unknown.
--WR Mike Furrey: FA; terms unknown.
--RB Noah Herron: FA Jets; terms unknown.
--CB Rod Hood: FA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Corey Ivy: UFA Ravens; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT C.J. Mosley: UFA Jets; $5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--WR David Patten: FA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB Hank Poteat: UFA Jets; $745,000/1 yr.
--QB Brett Ratliff (trade Jets).
--TE Robert Royal: FA Bills; $10M/3 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--LB Bo Ruud (waivers Patriots).
--T/G John St. Clair: UFA Bears; $9M/3 yrs, $600,000 guaranteed.
--OT Floyd Womack: UFA Seahawks; terms unknown.
--CB Terry Cousin (released).
--CB Travis Daniels: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--LB Andra Davis: UFA Broncos; $5M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--TE Darnell Dinkins: UFA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Ken Dorsey (released).
--P Mike Dragosavich (released).
--QB Bruce Gradkowski (released).
--S Sean Jones: UFA Eagles; $3M/1 yr, guarantees unknown.
--WR Joe Jurevicius (released).
--C/G Seth McKinney: UFA Bills; terms unknown.
--LB Antwan Peek (released/failed physical).
--PK Jason Reda (released).
--OT Kevin Shaffer (released).
--TE Kellen Winslow (traded Buccaneers).
--RB Jason Wright: UFA Cardinals; $2M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--OT Eric Young (failed physical).
--OG Scott Young: UFA Broncos; terms unknown.