Below are some highlights from the discussion in the Ask the Insiders forum.
JMazzulo: A cleveland radio station reported that Bentley was an option to play in the middle, is this really the case, do you think this is anywhere near a possibility?
Lane: There is an element that believes that Bentley could play the middle, but from listening to those in Berea, that is not the plan.
Mike: I was told by someone close to the team that Butch believes Andra Davis could be the answer at middle linebacker. I still wouldn't be surprised if someone else ends up there before September rolls around. We'll have to wait and see how that one plays out in training camp.
Lane: I would agree with Mike on this, those in the organization believe that Davis could/should be a very viable MLB for this team. I was under the impression that 2004 was the season, maybe the cap has elevated the time-table.
Skippy45345: What's the deal with the 2 linebackers brought in, Nate Webster and Twan Russell? Are the Browns going to make an offer to either of them? How will they clear up money for this and for signing the rookies they draft this year?
Lane: Neither of these players have been to Berea. Russell is a player the Browns attempted to sign last season before Russell decided to return to the Dolphins. As for Webster, he played for Davis at Miami and has been a backup LB.
Skippy45345: Sorry. I read that one article on this site and thought they were brought in. Are the Browns showing interest in them?
Lane: Yes, the Browns have an interest, but indications are that the Browns are playing the waiting game. In all, Davis wants to build this team from the draft and relieve the salary cap issues that have been faced this off-season, ensuring that the salary cap will not be in issue in 2004.
DXDawg: How good of a signing would Darling be for us? Is this a guy to get excited about or is he just an average player? Also, do you know if there was a contract offered to Luchey this past weekend? And what are our real chances of landing Mike Peterson?
Lane: Darling is servicable from what I have seen and have been told by two personnel men in the league. Nothing to get excited about. Some general information was discussed with Luchey, he is to make a decision on where we wants to play within the next week to ten days. On Peterson, does not look good.
The Browns showed moderate interest according to those close to Darling prior to his visit. According to the same source, upon leaving Cleveland with no deal being eminent, the organization talked with him as a possible starter and depth player.
weweber3: How is TC coming along with the knee/leg? What about the arm?
Lane: He had been working on his upper body while in the cast. The cast has been removed, but I do not not know what further working out / rehab has been in progress. We'll see what we can find out.
Ramllov: What additional draft choices do the Browns get this year? I notice the players we cut had some additional value to the Browns team. If the commissioner evaluates the players cut versus the players signed become additional draft choices? The players the Browns pick up are say a third and fourth round choices just for this example. What is the net effect? Do the Browns get additional picks after the third, fourth and fifth choice? Is there an established formula? If so, I do not remember reading about it. Could you update this with a few examples or an explanation? Reading an article today, I saw that Philly thought they would get a third or fourth round draft choice for FA Trotter.
ArtBtz: We aren't going to see anything for those players. We cut them... said "we didn't want 'em". There is no compensation on players who are cut. Trotter was a different situation because he was tagged, didn't sign the offer from the Eagles, and then they withdrew the tag a month into free agency (after the big spender had blown their bankrolls). The only additional pick we're getting is the Vikings' fifth rounder, for the immortal Stalin Colinet.
Lane: Again, AB is correct. The Browns released those players, they will not have an opportunity to receive comp picks. Now, if they were free agents and signed elsewhere, they would have received comp picks.
ArtBtz: Some additional info from Howard Balzer on the Rams site: "The league balances players lost against players gained in free agency, and also takes into account performance before awarding those selections. Compensatory picks are slotted at the end of rounds beginning in Round Three. The announcement of those choices is expected in mid-April."
PhotoCityDawg: Butch Davis admitted that the Browns wanted to resign Ryan Kuehl. However, Butch clearly underestimated the impact that his roster purge would have on the remaining players. One also has to wonder about the effect of Davis praising Corey Fuller one year for being a "team guy" and restructuring his contract, only to be unceremoniously dumped the next year. Hardly a motivation for anyone else to restructure, is it? My question to the Insiders: Does Butch Davis strike you as the kind of guy who learns from mistakes like this, or is he likely to continue to treat players poorly without recognizing that he is turning off the low-cost players that he wants to attract?
Lane: Many players have been turned off by the treatment some players receive. Also, many players do not trust Davis, that he is not straight with them. Now, Davis learned as he went along at Miami, only time will tell in Cleveland.
Mike: I'll add my two cents to what Lane said. There are some players that are pleased with the uneven way Davis deals with players. If he's a Butch guy, the coach might cut more slack for him. Case in point is Gerard Warren. There was an issue invovling him last year (nothing serious but enough that he should have been fined by the team) that wasn't acted upon by Butch. Another player said that if some of the other players had done the same thing that they would have paid the price. I'm not a genius in understanding human nature, but I don't think that's good for developing team morale.
Nutz75: Insiders,You guys all have the inside skinny on the Browns and really seem to know you stuff. If you had to make the choices BD did so far, is there anything you would have done differently in regards to the cap and FA?
Lane: worry about the extent of the cuts. The depth and quality at these positions are not strong. I can understand the logic behind ridding the team with the salary cap hits now and in the future that these players held, but a player such as Corey Fuller should not have been released.........but that is not just a $$$ issue.
One thing is certain, Davis is molding this team his way, with his players.......he desperately wants to get out of any salary cap issues that will appear over the next couple seasons.
Superfork2002: I see the 'Skins signed 7 players, Rams signing a few, Bengals and everyone else is doing something in FA. All we have done so far is lose people when are we going to get someone? I see a lot of good players that were available not being available any more. Any thoughts?
Lane: The Browns are not very active at the present time, they are focusing a significant amount of their attention towards the college kids. They have talked with the agents of about 18-24 players, to get a feel for the expectations. Right now, the Browns are being compared to bottom-feeders looking to something to fall into their grasp.