It's that time of year when the rumors really start running rampant. In recent days, fans have seen plenty of speculation snaking its way into the media regarding off-season plans and free agency news concerning the Cleveland Browns.
Hopefully, most of you have been reading along in the OBR's Ask the Insiders forum, so not much of what has hit the fishwraps and web browsers of late should come as a huge surprise. But let's do some recapping and provide some additional insight as the free agent player signing period looms.
- TheOBR was first to report the earlier this week that Browns and Josh Cribbs have come to an agreement in principle on a new contract. At the time of this writing, both parties are deeply involved in ensuring all the details have been covered and clarified.
- Reports appeared yesterday noting that the Browns are working the trade market, and searching for a QB. For the past week, theOBR has noted team president Mike Holmgren has actively been pushing buttons in an attempt to find the elusive QB, which has escaped the organization for over a decade. Holmgren has talked to many teams about the QB position, including a team he formerly coached, the Seattle Seahawks.
- Veteran QB Chad Pennington is a name that has been getting discussion time in Cleveland. The Browns are expected to check into the physical status of the QB in the near future, if the organization does not land another QB of more immediate desire in the coming days.
- Contract modification talks targeting QB Derek Anderson have not been productive and the player is likely to be released, or possibly traded.
- QB Brady Quinn is expected to be at full strength in the Spring following a significant foot sprain. Quinn, like Anderson, has been less than impressive on film as the new regime evaluates the position. Two factors keep coming to the fore: Anderson has been unable to raise his play and that of those surrounding him, while Quinn has had little opportunity to gain true continuity and experience. At the present, neither player is comfortable with their current status with the team.
- No less than three teams have inquired about the availability of defensive lineman Shaun Rogers, directly or indirectly. Presently, the Browns have not entered into trade discussions for the (at times) dynamic player.
- As teams are releasing their complied list of tendered players heading into this free agency season, the Browns have yet to distribute such a release. Although the team has not officially done so, theOBR has been told the following has been in the discussion process :
- RFA LB D'Qwell Jackson is expected to be labeled with a first round tender.
- RFA RB Jerome Harrison is expected to be labeled with no less than a second round tender.
- RFA OLB Matt Roth is expected to be labeled with an original round tender (2nd).
- With the clock ticking toward free agency, the Browns are in the process of upping their efforts to get contracts done with FB Lawrence Vickers and S Abe Elam.
- Contract talks for K Phil Dawson have been slow in developing.
- Throughout the evaluation process, the Browns have recognized a deficiency along the right-side of the offensive line. C/G Hank Fraley's contract has been terminated, while RT John St. Clair could share the same fate at some point. Presently, the lack of experience and depth has enabled St. Clair to remain in contention to keep his job.
- While the GM of the Browns, Tom Heckert, has attempted to publicly suggest the team does not need an experienced WR, theOBR has been told the team is looking at the talent available at the position to enhance this young unit.