Reality Bytes, Part 3: Trades A'Poppin' ?

Lane's final article in the series focuses on trade made, not made, and might-be made. In a sea of fuzzy speculation and guesses, we all need something solid. So, let's get real...

More of what we've been told, and you need to know...

- Although trade discussions have quieted in recent days, a team source tells theOBR that the Browns have not stopped talking to other teams. Despite acquiring a CB, OLB, ILB, QB and RT through trades this off-season, the Browns continue to seek quality and depth at defensive back and linebacker. The Browns have not discounted the potential to make an offer to an RFA player prior to the April 15th FA deadline.

- Prior to signing QB Jake Delhomme in free agency, the Browns did have discussions with the Philadelphia Eagles about the quarterbacks on their roster. At that time, the Eagles were not at the point of 'seriously' negotiating a deal for veteran Donovan McNabb or backup Kevin Kolb. Unwilling to wait on the Eagles, the Browns made their move on Delhomme. A team source tells theOBR that the Browns interest was sincere, but the organization was unwilling to offer high draft picks and did not want to get caught up in what could have been a "rent a player" situation.

- With the Eagles ultimately trading McNabb to Washington, the Redskins are not expected to select a QB with their first round draft selection (#4). The trade is likely to cause some change within the top selections in the draft, as a quarterback could drop and a left tackle could rise, which could be beneficial to the Browns in having a player on the board not expected to be there, as well as potential trade interest in the Browns number seven pick.

- CB Sheldon Brown, acquired in a deal with the Eagles along with OLB Chris Gocong, is expected to step in and be a solid starter alongside CB Eric Wright. Despite struggling throughout the second half of the 2009 season due to a hamstring strain while with the Eagles, Brown hauled in a career-high five interceptions, though his coverage skills were not as consistent as in years past. The Browns evaluation of Brown was that the veteran CB played well prior to the injury (he played through the injury) and should provide stability within a defensive backfield that often struggled a season ago. The Browns had little issue restructuring his deal, but did not provide him additional dollars. The Browns front-loaded his restructured contract, which in an uncapped year does not create any issue for the organization. If/when there is a new CBA, his yearly contract cap hit will be significantly minimized.

- With the recent addition of Gocong, the Browns add yet another physical presence at linebacker. Although projected as an OLB in the Browns 3-4 scheme, Gocong is expected to gain looks both inside and outside. A pass rushing OLB, Gocong is expected to take over the OLB role played by the recently traded Kamerion Wimbley. The three-year veteran is viewed as an improvement in the scheme when compared to Wimbley.

- Speaking of Wimbley, the Browns liked the athletic ability possessed by the OLB, but he did not play the run or pass nearly as effectively as the team would have liked in the LB-friendly scheme, thus the basis of the player being dealt for a third-round draft selection in the 2010 draft.

- The recent arrest of Shaun Rogers for possessing a loaded weapon in his bag has been met with relative silence by the Browns organization. The Browns have only stated they will wait for the facts to be presented and are supporting the player, who claimed he did not know the weapon was in the bag, and assumes responsibility. The at-times dynamic player has been tied to subtle trade rumors this off-season, which have quieted in recent weeks.

- Last off-season the Browns signed veteran TE Robert Royal to a free agent contract. Coming off a disappointing 2009 season in which the TE dropped nearly as many catchable passes as he caught, there had been speculation the Browns may release the veteran. At the present time, the Browns appear to be poised to retain the only true blocking TE on the roster. Royal's blocking ability could play a vital role in the Browns' numerous two TE sets. The acquisition of veteran TE Ben Watson should provide the Browns offense with a legitimate weapon in the passing game, while utilizing Royal in the role he is best prepared to handle.

- In reworking the contract of KR/WR Josh Cribbs, the Browns have eliminated the distraction his contract created a season ago. While Cribbs is expected to remain in the role he played in a season ago, there are a couple options which may utilize the all-around talents of the fan favorite. As the team seeks a dynamic play-making speed presence, such a move could put Cribbs on the field more often with the offense as a RB/QB and WR.

- Cleveland native Rob Sims, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks has been dealt to the Detroit Lions. Early in the process, the Seahawks offered Sims to the Browns while discussing a trade for backup QB Seneca Wallace. The Browns interest was minimal, they did not want to offer anything more than a very late draft selection -- if that. The reasoning was two-fold: there was concern about injury and that Sims would be a free agent next year - the Browns are not interested in renting a player.

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