A rare conversation with Mike Tannenbaum

Q)Do you regret not addressing the running back position higher in the draft?

Tannenbaum: As the GM of the team, I am committed to a macro-view and approach to improving the team. The Draft is a prominent way of doing that. When you look at that from a calendar stand point, we are trying to improve the team over the course of the year, and we are going to use all of the different mechanisms available.

There are three distinct mechanisms to improve this team in August; waiver claims, trades and free agents who are veterans that are cut before the trade deadline. If those opportunities present themselves to us, I feel confident that we can react accordingly and improve the team.

Q)What are your thoughts on your first draft at this point?

Tannenbaum: I believe in the axiom that it takes three years to look at the draft. This draft is just a couple of months old.

Q)Why were you willing to trade Derrick Strait?

Tannenbaum: When you talk about the Suggs for Strait situation, we felt that we had some depth at the defensive backfield position; Derrick has gone from corner to safety. They (CLE) had gotten a little nicked up there, Gary Baxter had gotten hurt, and they had depth at the RB position. It seemed like a situation that was a win-win for both sides. Based on what we have seen from Cedric (Houston), from Derrick (Blaylock), from Leon (Washington), we felt like if we had a chance to add someone of Lee's caliber, then that would add some competition and depth at that position.

Q)Did you talk to Derrick after the trade was nixed?

Tannenbaum: It is a tough business with that. Matt Chatham is a great example of that. He has been cut a bunch of times and come back.

Famously, I would say Cris Carter could be the best example. Buddy Ryan cuts him in Philly and he goes onto a Hall of Fame career in Minnesota. I am not saying that Derrick is that caliber of player, I am saying that is a part of our business. I really admire how Derrick handled it. I spoke to him and his representative. I think he had a good camp and he is an improved player. I think he had a good off season; his versatility will serve us and him well, because as you are battling for that last roster spot, versatility is a premium, especially in the defensive backfield, that he can go between corner and safety to special teams. I admire how Derrick has handled things. He was out there practicing and trying to pick up where he left off from.

Q)Are you concerned with the disparaging remarks by the Cleveland front office hurting you around the league?

Tannenbaum: I can't worry about what other people think. We work in good faith. I think we have good relationships with most teams and with most agents. Like I said, it doesn't happen a lot with trades being voided, but it is not uncommon, like the one that happened a couple of weeks ago with Eddie Moore.

Q)How much have you been working the phones this summer?

Tannenbaum: We have been talking to a lot of teams about a lot of different positions. I don't want to comment on any particular speculation. I'll say that I am on the phone a lot, once in a while it is to Michelle (wife), but I am really talking to a lot of my peers quite a bit.

Q)What is going on Curtis Martin?

Tannenbaum: Curtis is working hard to get back as quickly as possible. We are giving him every opportunity to do that. When his situation changes, we'll let you know.

Q)When did you get the sense that Curtis wouldn't be able to participate this summer?

Tannenbaum: Specifically when he failed his physical. That is really when things become official. Obviously we have a tremendous amount of information from the medical department every day in the off season; how Player X is doing, how Player Y is doing, but it needs to be official. PUP is where the line in the sand is transactionaly. The PUP rule and mechanism affects the player eligibility and the effect on the 53 for the rest of the year.

Q)What did you think of the camp Chad Pennington had?

Tannenbaum: He had a knee injury his rookie year in 2000 against Baltimore. I saw him rehab that knee injury every day when he was behind Ray Lucas and Vinny Testeverde. How hard he worked to come back to be the third string QB and how hard he has worked this off season has not changed. We talk about character all the time and it is really important to us, the character of the person. What he did in 2000 and what he has done in 2006 hasn't changed. Chad is giving himself every chance to be successful and that is all that you can ask, is that he is going to work hard. From a football stand point, Eric and I will go by what we see. He is the head coach; ultimately he is going to decide what is going to give us the best chance to win.

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