The Holdouts: What's Next

The labor disagreement between the NFL and the players union has their first victims in the league's restricted free agents. The Browns have major contributors who haven't been practicing with the team. When will they return? What should they do next?

LB D'Qwell Jackson:  The don't look for ILB D'Qwell Jackson anytime soon talk may be a smokescreen. Indications are the LB will not report to any team activities in the foreseeable future, if you read between the lines -- and training camp remains a very large question. Whether this is indeed going to occur remains quite questionable. Yes, Jackson remains unhappy with the organization regarding the lack of movement from discussions with the prior regime in Cleveland.

Lane's Take - Jackson is one of the unfortunate players caught-up in the labor issues between the team owners and the players association. With the owners opting out of the deal with the players association, hundreds of potential players lost their ability to negotiate as UFA (unrestricted free agents) and remain shelved as RFA (restricted free agents). At the present, the Browns hold all the cards in this showdown and Jackson may be best served to report to camp and let his play and leadership do his talking, as the odds appear remote (at best) that the organization will offer a contract he seeks, or trade the player.

OLB Matt Roth: Roth's refusal to sign his tender and report to the team remains a mystery, particularly for a player whose injuries and lack of consistent production have created a slow start to his professional career. Coming to Cleveland after being waived by the Miami Dolphins during the 2009 season, Roth was allowed to play in a system which showcased his skill-set. The Browns added quality and depth at OLB during the off-season to improve this specific position and overall defensive scheme. Roth is part of the equation, but the Browns have players who can step in if necessary.

Lane's Take -  A client of super-agent Drew Rosenhaus, Roth could hurt his chances in Cleveland with a prolonged holdout. Roth played the best ball of his professional career with the Browns and has the opportunity to further elevate his status on field in the 2010. The organization is not sitting idle waiting on Roth, as the team has a rotation of linebackers playing the position in OTA and mini-camp sessions. For a player that has done little in his career, this holdout remains a questionable strategy.

S Abram Elam: Abe Elam could be the next RFA player to report to the team. With the organization selecting two safeties in the draft and putting them on the field immediately in OTA and mini-camp sessions, the message couldn't be any clearer -- this team is moving forward. Elam feels he played adequately a season ago and should be compensated appropriately. The Browns lack a true play-maker and also lack veteran presence at the position outside Mike Adams. Potentially, this could backfire on the team. As for Elam, the longer he remains away from the team, the more reps the youth gains, which could put Elam in a precarious position.

Lane's Take - It's unlikely Elam would get a contract better than the tender offer on the table if he were to be released by the Browns. This is a case where the player could play himself into a solid contract if he plays well in year two of Rob Ryan's defensive scheme.

RB Jerome Harrison: Harrison opened up eyes across the league over the final month of the 2009 season. Harrison needs to display the ability to be the 'guy' all the time, and what he accomplished late last season provides a serious look at what the young man can do on gameday. Harrison did not want to fall behind the other RB's in OTA and mini-camp sessions, and by reporting he has done the right thing -- as he does truly want the team to succeed, as well as improving his status. Harrison would like a long-term deal with the Browns -- and to be compensated like a starting RB. Presently, the new Browns braintrust is in the wait-and-see mode.

Lane's Take - Again, restricted free agents are at a distinctive disadvantage. The likilihood of the Browns caving to demands made by any RFA is unlikely and the organization addressed the quality and depth at each of these positions in free agency and the draft. Coming to camp and working is the best thing Harrison could have done due to the circumstance.

FB Lawrence Vickers: He may be the best blocking FB in the game, and threat as a pass receiver in situation alignments., which makes him an asset to a team such as the Browns. The FB position remains an under-appreciated position on the wage scale, but Vickers as an RFA player has no leverage in holding out of camp. Without Vickers' crushing blocks in the run-game, the production this unit gained a season ago could struggle.

Lane's Take - While Vickers' status as an RFA puts the ball in the Browns court, this is one player the organization really should look to secure long-term. Vickers as a blocker is a tremendous asset. As the Browns look to run the ball and mix in the pass, Vickers is worthy of consideration, but in the meantime, the RFA has done his part by reporting to the team.

The OBR Top Stories