OBR Blog: 3/4/2010

Your friendly OBR webmonkey frantically blogs as the heat turns up on off-season activity. Just be happy that there isn't a live webcam. Be really, really happy about that.

Yes, you too can communicate with an actual blogging webmonkey! Click here!

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/05/2010 12:56 AM ET

Peep... peep...

We're making a lot of calls but things are getting a bit quiet at this hour. If you're staying up late waiting for a big Browns free agent signing, we're not sensing one. I still remember how Kevin Shaffer got slipped past everyone a couple years ago, so we're staying alert, particularly around some low-level QB buzz we've picked up.

We've confirmed that the team is making calls, letting certain players know of their interest. There's no indication that Mike Holmgren has gone to New York to wash Thomas Jones' car. Or even hand-deliver a nice box of assorted chocolates.

Keep an eye on the Insider Blog and other likely places where Lane and John are known to dwell. They're still working it... I'll see you all bright and early tomorrow.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/05/2010 12:31 AM ET

Veteran QB Ramblings

Two veteran QBs whose names get tossed around a bit are Chad Pennington and Marc Bulger. The former is 34 and the latter is 32, although my brain seems convinced that Pennington is older. I'm not sure why. Might be the same way I think Luke is the older Wilson brother. 

Regardless of my addled notions of age, I'm not thinking that there are happy endings for either that include them wearing orange and brown. 

Pennington, per the Palm Beach Post, appears to be headed back to Miami next year, although Chad Henne is the man there now. The local paper in Miami seems pretty sure of itself, even though there's nothing close to a deal in place for Pennington and the Fins, and Dan Snyder is running around in circles in his office, wild-eyed, wads of money in his fists, yelling "I wanna buy something!" at anyone with the misfortune to wander by. But let's assume Shanny doesn't clue Snyder in that there's a quarterback for sale, and that Pennington remains in Miami.

The other veteran QB, Bulger, seems like he might be an interesting fit given his past success in St. Louis, but that success seems like a long time ago. In addition, I've never seen a quarterback savaged by an ex-teammate like Bulger was by current Rams radio voice D'Marco Farr.

Read that article and ask yourself if Bulger's a good fit here.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/05/2010 12:06 AM ET

Relative Calm, and Some Props

Since about 12:30 this afternoon, I've been pounding away at updating Scout's Free Agency Blog, which has been getting updates every 5-10 minutes or so.

Fox says that I don't get as many pellets for that blog because I just "post" those and other people "write" them, which don't think is fair at all. It's still a blog, and I'm supposed to get a pellet for every blog.

For someone used to blog - pellet - blog - pellet - blog -pellet, having to live with blog - blog - blog - pellet - blog - blog - blog - pellet isn't the same.

But we blogging webmonkeys take what we can get and (nom nom nom) I've accumulated a nice little pile of beer pellets, which their crispy bread outsides protecting the luscious beery centers.

While I nom-nom-nom on these, I need to send out a little props to Scout.com wiz Adam Caplan, who took a little heat a few weeks ago for saying Williams was alongside Jamal Lewis and Derek Anderson on the chopping block.

West coast folks are updating Scout's Free Agency Blog now, so that's going to be humming for a few more hours yet.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 11:34 PM ET

Corey, We Hardly Knew Ye

John Taylor slammed out a Hot News item that covers what we knew about the Williams deal a little after 11 PM tonight. 

Williams the latest in a parade of Browns who have publicly expressed displeasure in Eric Mangini's approach and then been gifted with a free pass out of town. Braylon, Jamal, Corey, etc. If you don't like Cleveland, complain to the press, and off you go.

The trade of Williams shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone who has seen how this organization operates in the last year.

I'm not fully on board with this trade, honestly. I love me some draft picks almost as much as a typical player/personnel exec, who seem to regard mid-round picks with the same sort of calm demeanour associated with deformed Hobbits croaking out "Gollum". Still, I felt that Williams really came on towards the end of last season, grumpiness or no. Quality defensive ends are not a dime a dozen in this league, and I feel that the Lions got themselves a nice deal.

It's Mangini's locker room, and he only wants guys who buy into how he runs things. That's fine. But I hate to see a veteran with years left and some talent head out of town.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 11:08 PM ET

Williams is a Lion

As we confirmed for our subscribers in the last hour, Corey Williams has indeed been dealt to the Detroit Lions. We're trying to lock down compensation, but are getting conflicting details about whether the mid-round pick is in 2010 or 2011. Williams would have been released had the trade not been worked out.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 09:57 PM ET

Williams to Lions?

ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who has some good contacts in the NFL, has offered up that the Browns and Lions are talking about a potential deal involving the Browns Corey Williams. But who do the Browns want in return? Lane Adkins has a name to keep in mind via his sources in the Insider Blog

We're working the phone lines to bring you more...

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 09:27 PM ET

Another Vote for "Active Browns"

This comes from our compadre Adam Caplan:

In talks with league executives and sources this week, the Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle Seahawks have been mentioned as teams that could be active over the first few days of free agency. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 08:15 PM ET

Tenders are Official

The Browns have finally released their press release highlighting their RFA tenders. Short version: Everyone gets a second-round RFA: Abram Elam, Jerome Harrison (as JT reported earlier), Jason Trusnik (ditto), Matt Roth (reported earlier), Lawrence Vickers, and D'Qwell Jackson. Trusnik as a second round tender was a mild surprise, as well as the team's decision to cheese off DQJ's agent by giving him a mere second-round tender. D'Qwell's late-season injury may be the major complicating factor in any attempt to get the linebacker signed to bigger money. Marcus Benard, Blake Costanze, and Chris Jennings, exclusive rights free agents all, also got tendered, so they're not going anywhere.

A glance at the Browns free agent list would indicate that Brodney Pool did not receive a tender offer. Pool's return is still questionable following a series of concussions over the last several years.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 07:18 PM ET

Browns Burning up Phone Lines

According to Chris Mortensen, that is, who just tweeted the following:

There are a lot of phones burning around league. Some free agency. Some trades. Browns very aggressive. 

Now, we know the Browns can't be burning the lines about free agency yet, because it's not 12:01AM. Right Mort? Right? We don't cheat... the Browns coporate motto is "Don't Be Evil". I think... maybe that's someone else. Oh yeah... Google. Our motto is "Those plastic bottles don't pack much of a wallop." Sorry for the mistake.  

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 06:13 PM ET

Munching Away

We added and updated a number of mock draft to the Mock Draft Muncher today. Some interesting trends developing, especially at the first three slots... keep an eye on the changes in the Eric Berry trends at the top of the draft and the slight uptick for Berry to the Browns at #7. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 05:54 PM ET

The Ghost with the Most

The OBR's John Taylor has the early scoop on Jerome Harrison's RFA status here for subscribers. This will get into the media in the next few hours we're sure, but we like sometimes giving our subscribers an early heads-up on news like this. We expect a press release from the Browns later today. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 05:49 PM ET

More Good News for Quinn

Thanks to folks in the Cooler for pointing me to this one. In addition to Mike Lombardi sounding a positive note for Brady Quinn by predicting doom, no less a personage than Peter King feels that Quinn will get another shot this year.

Just from listening to (Holmgren), it sounds like the Browns will give the job to Quinn, draft a passer sometime after the first round, and groom him in case Quinn's not The Man.

Read more from King here...

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 04:48 PM ET

Chargers to Keep Sproles

As we just reported on our national free agency blog, it looks like the San Diego Chargers are going ot hold onto Darren Sproles by tendering him with a first and third. So, if you had lingering dreams of Sproles and Harrison in the backfield, it might be time to move on.

No driving by his house or following him on Facebook. It's over. You've gotta move on. We're all worried about you. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 04:00 PM ET

A Little Off-Topic...

Some folks may wonder why we have a big whompin' Michael Stanley Band ad on our forums. Basically, it's because we're lifelong Clevelanders, remember the 1970s and 80s (a lot of it is confused and fuzzy, admittedly) and were MSB fans back in day. And still are. Michael's new music is pretty good bluesy stuff, and we wanted to give him some love. It's part of being from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame city.

If you get a chance, check out the forum and sign up for the MSB boards and share memories and talk new music with other MSB fans. The man himself is very active on the boards, if you want to reconnect with a Cleveland rock-and-roll history.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 03:26 PM ET

Smith Gets Less Obtainable

Browns fans with fond memories of Troy Smith at the helm of the Ohio State Buckeyes have been mulling whether or not they would like to see Smith get a shot at manning the Cleveland Browns. 

I think that's gotten a little less possible now that the Ravens have declared a right of first refusal and original round tender for Smith

The Browns could certainly go after the Buckeyes/Ravens QB, but the odds that Baltimore would happily let him go off to a division rival aren't that high.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 02:42 PM ET

The Groupies Can Line Up Outside

Proving once again that there's nothing the national media loves more than inappropriately using technology for unredeemably silly purposes, the Mock Draft Muncher is getting featured on Fox Sports

First CNN gets reporters talking to Wolf Blitzer via hologram, now this.

Well, folks, I'll be seeing you. Now that I've clearly gravitated beyond "harmless webdork" to "major media player", I need to find someone who can help me acquire a crack habit and a posse of hangers-on. I have no idea where to start. Speedway just has those four-hour power shot things, and all I know is that those make you drop footballs.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 02:34 PM ET

Jets to Chase Jones

As Lane discussed this morning for radio listeners, RB Thomas Jones, of some of the big-name free agents, might make some sense for the Cleveland Browns. According to Pro Football Talk, however, the Browns are going to get some competition. Namely, the team that's cutting him, the New York J-E-T-S. 

Problem is, unless Jones spends a lot of time humming "I love New York" to himself, the Jets may find themselves in a bidding war for his services. Sometimes players don't take all that kindly to teams yoinking a $2.8 million roster bonus from them after piling up a ton of yards. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 02:18 PM ET

Browns Trust in Trusnik

As John Taylor first let fans know in our Ask the Insiders forum, LB Jason Trusnik of the Browns has received a surprising second-round tender from the club. With a lot of players around the league fired up about getting tendered lower than they wanted, the high tender for Trusnik comes as a little bit of a surprise. It just shows how much the team likes the recently acquired player.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 01:53 PM ET

Good News for Brady Quinn

We guess it's supposed to be big news that the Browns are looking at their quarterback situation, and that nothing is off the table - including trades and dumping Derek Anderson/Brady Quinn. Most fans on our forums have been talking about that for months. But a few more folks now seem to be paying attention, so we'll read all kinds of speculation about what Holmgren is thinking.

A bit of good news for Brady Quinn is that Mike Lombardi has heard that Brady Quinn is basically doomed in Cleveland. We don't want to be mean to the guy or anything, we're sure he's a smart dude and has bounced back from his Al Davis association and wrecking the late 80s Browns. But I don't remember a single big Browns prediction or inside tidbit that he's offered that has been right this year. Just sayin'. So, if one applies the "opposite of Lombardi" standard, it looks good for Quinn to stick around.

Which means he'll be right about this one and I'll look like a doofus for making fun of him. That's usually how these things go. Stick around a couple of months to mock me.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 12:02 PM ET

National Free Agency Blog is Live!

We just cranked up Scout's national Free Agency Blog and I'm already getting pounded with updates from around the league. CLICK HERE to read that one. I'll be spending my day bouncing back and forth from that one to this one. I'm gonna get a lot of pellets for the blogs I post today... yummy, delicious pellets of beer, delivered via a FoxSports.com tube, just like nature intended. Ra!

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 11:51 AM ET

Browns Interest in Two Seniors

Ed Thompson recaps a number of interviews with college seniors at the Combine in this article. Two of the players (Roger Saffold, Jermaine Cunningham) talked to the Browns. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 10:50 AM ET

Hamster, Meet Wheel

This one-hour break in blogging was brought to you by WKNR, where our man Lane Adkins was doing the Really Big Show. Great segment, and very cool of LeCharles Bentley to be there, and for Bernie to call in. 

While listening to that, I've been updating Scout's Free Agent Database, catching us up on some of releases and franchise tags. Once that's done, the national blog kicks off as well. Woo hoo!! Love this time of year!

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 09:53 AM ET

Bye Ventrone, Maybe

Per Adam Caplan, the Browns won't be tendering Ray Ventrone (no surprise) but are interested in potentially re-signing him (also little surprise). 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 09:41 AM ET

A Quick Safety Under the Microscope

NFL Draft Bible, among others, reports that the Browns were among the teams that were scoping out Buffalo safety Mike Newton the other day. Newton supposedly impressed:

Newton, who has started since his red-shirt freshman year was 5'10, 197 pounds, ran a 4.46 and 4.48 in the forty-yard dash, which would have placed him second amongst all safeties in attendance at the NFL Scouting Combine. He had a 41-inch vertical jump, which would have tied him for second amongst all safeties at the combine. Other drills included a 10-foot broad jump, 6.94 three-cone and 4.17 twenty-yard shuttle.

Be careful about reading too much into those great times, as it's not uncommon to see Pro Day times taken in friendly surroundings be more impressive than the harsh unfamiliar environment of the Combine.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 09:33 AM ET

Olsen on the Block? 

The Browns need some help at tight end, so how does this grab ya? From the Bear Report's John Crist: "Rumors continue to swirl in the Windy City that tight end Greg Olsen could be on the market. While Bears general manager Jerry Angelo told reporters at the Scouting Combine that he isn't in the business of trading his best players, the local NBC affiliate cited friends of Olsen saying the former first rounder isn't happy Mike Martz is Chicago's new offensive coordinator. Martz has never featured tight ends in his passing game, preferring beefy-types that can block."

Consider that sort of a sneak peak at some of the goodness coming in the national free agency blog we're cranking up this afternoon.

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 08:22 AM ET

Brain Twisting RFA Questions - Answered

Tim Yotter of the scary-good Viking Update site cranked out an article for his subscribers on the thorny questions of how the RFA tag really works. 

Honestly, we're still talking to to the NFL about some of the high strangeness which accompanies the RFA tag this year. Among these quirks: there's a rule that will result in an original-round tender being compensated one round lower than his actual draft status. It has to do with players picked in the second round, who got an original round tender when someone else on the team gets a second-round tender.

 In other words, apparently NFL owners saw a copy of the US Tax Code all printed out and said "Man, we gotta be more like that".

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 12:23 AM ET

Our Horrifying Plans for This Afternoon and Beyond

I've been asked a couple of times what we plan to do as free agency kicks off here on the OBR. Per usual, we're going to do something different this year than last, since we're so jaded and cynical now that only the paralyzing fear of the untested makes us feel alive anymore. 

Plus, we don't remember what we did last year, but whatever it was, I guess people liked it.

Anyhow, here's what we plan to do.

-- This blog will continue on each day. Sorry about that.

-- Scout.com will have a national free agency blog, manned in no small part by yours truly, pounding out updates from around the NFL as soon as we get them. Folks who read our Combine and Senior Bowl blogs have an idea what to expect. We've gotten great feedback on these, and hope that folks enjoy what we've got planned starting Thursday afternoon. And, yes, we plan to blog into the wee morning hours after free agency starts at midnight. 

-- The OBR gang will lurk in our Subscriber Chat Room throughout the day Friday and into the weekend. We plan on keeping it a one-way stream of updates for our subscribers who hang out in there, but will occasionally open the floor for questions when we can take a break from working the phones and frantically blogging. We will slam buzz we hear into that blog first and will keep subscriber tidbits there. 

It's gonna be nuts. Betting lines are open regarding how deep the OBR World HQ Blogging Office will be in empty beer cans, chicken wing takeout containers, beer pellets and Ho-Ho wrappers by the end of the weekend. I might be able to sub-lease this place to Chuck E. Cheese as sort of a garbage-filled adjunct to their child-swallowing plastic ball pits. 

Posted by:  Barry McBride
at 03/04/2010 12:16 AM ET

Countdown to Weirdness

It's technically Thursday, so it's technically the day before free agency begins. So, technically, I can start this blog and get my first beer pellet of the day. 

I put a picture of a $100 dollar bill on this article to remind me that there are people who, starting tomorrow, will be able to walk around with a bunch of those wadded in their pants pockets and not have to worry too much if one of them accidentally falls to the floor. After Friday, some large and athletic people will be able to use $100 bills for Kleenex if they want. 

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