Just Checking in.
One more round before I go.
Do you mean to tell me a rookie QB, playing in a unfamiliar offence, routinely getting to the line with a couple of seconds left on the play clock could have trouble reading a defense?! Whoa stop the presses we have news! Wow! Who would of thunk it! Florio and Prisco better watch out this guy is good!lol! no chit. (and people say sarcasm doesn't come through in print...)
By Marla Ridenour<!--end post-credit-->
Beacon Journal sports columnist<!--end post-credit-->
Free-agent wide receiver Steve Breaston visited the Browns on Wednesday and underwent a physical examination, a league source told the Beacon Journal.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Breaston met with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, according to ProFootballTalk, but the Steelers reportedly are over the salary cap. They are restructuring the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and are expected to finish it by the end of the week, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported. According to multiple reports, they are doing the same with linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley and receiver Antonio Brown.
The Steelers might be the front-runners to land Breaston, born in North Braddock, Pa. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley coached Breaston with the Arizona Cardinals and during his first year with the Chiefs. The Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans and Detroit Lions are also interested in Breaston, according to NFL.com, and the Minnesota Vikings have been mentioned as another possible suitor.
Breaston, 29, signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Chiefs in 2011. He fell out of favor there last season, catching only seven passes for 74 yards in 10 games. He has played in 86 games with 43 starts and has totaled 255 receptions for 3,387 yards and nine touchdowns.
Free-agent receiver/returner Josh Cribbs wants to finish his career with the Browns and would consider giving them a hometown discount, Cribbs said Wednesday during an interview on Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan.
Speaking on the Baskin and Phelps show, Cribbs said his contract situation is “at a standstill right now.”
“My plan is to stay with the team, even to take a slight pay cut. But at the same time, not huge pay cuts,” former Kent State quarterback Cribbs said on 92.3 The Fan, according to Sportsradiointerviews.com. “We have the coaches to do it now, to take it to the next level, and I definitely want to be there.
“I gotta just weigh my options. I want to retire a Cleveland Brown. I’m gonna go as far as I can with the team to make a compromise. And at the same time, I won’t devalue myself.”
Cribbs was coached by new Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner, then with the San Diego Chargers, at the Pro Bowl after the 2007 and 2009 seasons.
“I definitely know they can help me succeed and use me like I should be used,” Cribbs told The Fan. “Norv Turner, in the first Pro Bowl, he ran a couple option plays for me and he’s excited to work with me. But ultimately we all know that it comes down to the upper management. … I’m not too confident in upper management. … It doesn’t seem like the interest level is there.”
Cribbs may have more to say at his scheduled appearance at the Greater Cleveland Auto Show at the I-X Center from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturday.
A day after Arizona Cardinals running back Chris “Beanie” Wells fumbled in the first quarter against the Chicago Bears and was benched by former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt on Dec. 23, he told reporters he expected to be traded or released this offseason. But Wells, a Garfield High School and Ohio State University product who missed seven games last season with knee and toe injuries, has a chance for a fresh start, because the Cardinals fired Whisenhunt and replaced him with Bruce Arians, a former Browns offensive coordinator.
“Beanie had a tough stretch this year because of the injuries,” Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said last week at the NFL combine. “He showed a lot of grit, a lot of toughness late in the year when he was able to. He’s had some injuries, so he had a difficult time with his cut ability and his lateral movement. But Beanie is still a big horse who can finish runs and create yardage after contact, which is something that excites us.”
Wells is under contract with the Cardinals for next season.
Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus recorded 25 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles in his rookie year with the Houston Texans, playing in 16 games with four starts. The Garfield High School and Illinois product was the 26th overall pick and Texans General Manager Rick Smith said the Texans were “very excited” Mercilus fell to them.
“I am excited about his future,” Smith said last week at the combine.
“When you look at his production per play, it’s up there. He adds explosiveness, he adds pass rush, he adds speed to our defense.
“That jump from year one to year two has to be exponential. He understands how important this offseason is to him and his development. I’m excited to watch that.”
The Morning Kickoff …
Let freedom ring: The Browns have 18 free agents – 13 unrestricted (four years experience or more), two restricted (three years), and three exclusive rights (two years or less). There is no indication they will re-sign any of them.
At the NFL combine in Indianapolis last week, I asked CEO Joe Banner if the team has determined what they intend to do with their free agents.
“We do know and we won’t say,” he replied.
“Let’s say we’re trying to sign them and we want to bring them back – that wouldn’t be a very smart thing to do from a negotiating perspective. And we don’t need to help other teams know who’s going to be free and not be free,” Banner said.
Let’s take a look at the prospective player losses facing the Browns.
Unrestricted free agents
Sheldon Brown, 33, cornerback: As president of the Eagles, Banner traded him to the Browns in 2010, so he already has rejected him once. Brown was a great example to young players. His imminent departure requires the Browns to acquire a starting cornerback. Nobody on the roster can ascend to that position.
Josh Cribbs, 29, special teams/receiver: Holder of more than a dozen franchise return records, he was fourth in kickoff returns and sixth in punt returns in 2012 – but didn’t score. His frustration with losing and watching teammates drop balls often boils over. Heir-apparent Travis Benjamin is 40 pounds lighter, doesn’t play on coverage teams like Cribbs and has question marks about durability and ball security.
Phil Dawson, 38, kicker: Probably the most popular player of the expansion era, he holds the franchise record with 305 field goals and is 78 points shy of Lou Groza’s scoring record. The Browns’ only full-time kicker is coming off his first Pro Bowl berth. He won’t be given the franchise tag a third year in a row and hopes to end his [career with] a winning team.
Scott Fujita, 33, outside linebacker: He ended his third straight Browns season on injured reserve and is trying to avoid neck fusion surgery. He will go on to bigger and better things after [retirement].
Reggie Hodges, 31, punter: Achilles surgery in 2011 resulted in a severe drop-off in gross average (41.8 yards) and net (37.1) in 2012. The recent signing of 2012 camp punter Spencer Lanning was the tip-off that Hodges won’t be back.
Brandon Jackson, 27, running back: He played two games and had eight rushes in two years. Not one of the productive free agent pickups in Browns’ history.
Josh Johnson, 26, quarterback: A late-season pickup when injuries hit the position. He could end up rejoining Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco.
Kaluka Maiava, 26, linebacker: A special teams core player who was forced to start 13 games at outside linebacker in 2012. One of three players left from the 2009 Browns draft.
Mohamed Massaquoi, 26, receiver: Another departing member of the 2009 draft class, he averaged 29 catches in four seasons. Injuries the past two years caused him golden opportunities to slip away.
Juqua Parker, 34, defensive end: A very productive role player who was second in sacks (six) despite being fifth in snaps among linemen. He may have another year left as a situational rusher in a 4-3 – but not here.
Alex Smith, 30, tight end: You’d think the fondness for tight ends among the new coaches might earn him a one-year deal to return. Probably not.
Ray Ventrone, 30, defensive back: An Eric Mangini favorite who survived one coaching change but isn’t expected to make it through another.
Ben Watson, 32, tight end: He averaged 51 receptions in three years but the numbers working against him are 32 (age) and three (number of concussions the past two seasons).
Restricted free agents
The Browns can reserve the right to match any offers by tendering them a qualifying offer.
Chris Ogbonnaya, 26, running back: A favorite of former coach Pat Shurmur, he may appeal to new coach Rob Chudzinski as a facsimile of Jason Wright, who had his most productive season under Chud in 2007.
Eddie Williams, 25, fullback: We’ve never seen him play in a game.
Exclusive rights free agents
These players can be retained by minimum salary contract tenders.
Auston English, 25, defensive end: He has the body type to be a 3-4 outside linebacker, but new coaches usually bring their own developmental players to camp.
Emmanuel Stephens, 26, defensive end: See above.
When the new regime of football minds evaluated the Browns 2012 season, there was a belief the team wasn’t nearly as physical as they wanted to see and the defense wasn’t as appeared.
Granted, the Browns defense was the strength of the team, especially in perception.
[Film study] showed the Browns defense while competitive, has holes in its [foundation]. A lack of quality and inexperience at defensive back leaves the secondary susceptible against the pass.
The lack of a consistent pass rush generated by the front-seven of the defense creates further issue for a defense lacking overall talent in the defensive backfield. The necessity to utilize defensive backs to generate pressure further exposed an already mediocre pass defense.
Improved speed and quickness across the linebacker positions, increased youth and athleticism at defensive tackle with leadership and experience at defensive end, the Browns defense in the 2012 defense was average and kept the team in games.
Much like the offensive side of the ball, the Browns defense lacked difference-makers and an ability to stop the opposition on third-down.
Youth and inexperience play into the equation of a season ago, but the less than aggressive philosophy schemed by the coaching staff was deemed insufficient.
New defensive coordinator Ray Horton believes in pressuring the offense with many different looks from his defense. While the base scheme will be the 3-4, his utilization of additional LB’s and DB’s changes the look of the defense significantly.
With this though process – theOBR has learned the following from those associated with the Browns and those of interest to the team………….Today we look at the pass rush / OLB type prospects.
And, the Browns do not have a player locked in as ‘their guy” at number-six at the time of this writing.
- LB Jaime Collins is on the radar of nearly every team looking for a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 LB. Collins displays excellent agility, quickness, change of direction and burst. Many evaluators, including the Browns envision Collins having the ability to pressure the QB, as well as displaying the athletic ability to drop into coverage. The Browns like this young man from Southern Mississippi.
- OLB [Dion Jordan] has the all-around skill-set which excites talent evaluators around the league. Jordan’s speed, quickness and tremendous athletic ability cannot be denied. Quite possibly the purest overall OLB prospect in the draft due to his ability to play moving forward or dropping back into coverage with ease, Jordan plays the game “fast” and the league is only getting “faster”. Limited in workouts due to a shoulder injury which requires [surgery], the Browns have little to no concerns about his strength and weight.
- The Browns have not been as active on OLB [Jarvis Jones] as many portrait. The Browns, as some other teams have reservations about jones’ overall physical strength and await his personal workout to gain an improved perspective, but on film Jones displays the explosive quality which the Browns seek. Some teams, including the Browns have been questioning whether Jones is a better 3-4 OLB or 4-3 OLB prospect. Jones’ workout and additional medicals will be important for teams such as the Browns going forward.
- DE/OLB [Ezekiel Ansah] has been on the Browns radar for the last nine months. Ansah caught the eye of Browns while the team was scouting another player and the Browns had hoped Ansah wouldn’t have shown as well as he did at the scouting combine. Ansah is raw; his limited experience could be an issue, he needs to learn how to use his hands, but Ansah’s explosive 10-yard burst and shuttle, along with smooth transition to direction change and drops make this young man extremely intriguing.
- [Barkevious Mingo], the pas rushing DE/OLB from [LSU] is a player some teams love and others teams believe isn’t committed. There is no question Mingo possesses speed and quickness, but needs to add weight and overall strength. Mingo has trouble when engaged by similar or larger opponents, which falls to the weight and strength concerns.
- DE [Bjoern Werner] is physical at the point of attack, but undersized to be a 3-4 DE and hasn’t shown the athletic smoothness to be a viable 3-4 OLB. Werner plays adequately moving forward and has flashed well against lesser talent, but has not displayed the ability to excel against comparable talent.
- If there is a player you love inside the sidelines, but really can’t grasp off the playing field, it’s LB [Alec Ogletree]. Ogletree is physically gifted, athletically significant can do everything and anything you’d like to see from an ILB or OLB on the playing field. But, Ogletree’s off-field issues (failed drug test / DUI) have left teams wary of the talent. The Browns will be at Ogletree’s pro-day workout.
- [Damontre Moore], the DE/OLB from Texas A&M has gotten little play from the Browns, as the DE/OLB has not shown the ability to play in space, nor drop effectively. One word which may tell the Browns thoughts are “stiff”, as Moore body lends no bend, which does not equate to a OLB in the 3-4.
[Josh Cribbs] sure seems to have stepped into it.
He probably couldn’t have stepped into it worse had he put it in a bag, lit it on fire and stepped on the bag to put out the fire.
This is shocking, I’m sure, that Cribbs said something and caused a ruckus, but that’s what happened.
Appearing on ESPN-850 on Thursday, Cribbs basically said his agents have been talking to other teams about his upcoming free agency. Which they’re not supposed to do.
“My agent has been meeting with several different teams,” Cribbs said in an on-air interview. “There is a lot of interest. There are already numbers brought to the table. Things are happening. Wheels are turning behind closed doors.”
Not a lot of wiggle room on that one.
This of course would be … you know … against the rules.
Teams are not supposed to negotiate or even [talk] to agents of players with other teams until three days prior to free agency. Doing so is tampering.
This led to a scramble by Cribbs’ agents to say this was not happening.
“Let me be clear,” [J.R. Rickert posted on Twitter. ]“[Cribbs] is a Cleveland Brown [until] March 12. No other discussions are [in] process.”
Which of course makes it so.
Not to say that NFL teams don’t violate the no-contact/tampering rule; it happens all the time. It’s one of the reasons the league put in a three-day window prior to the start of free agency. In those three days, agents can talk to teams about a contract, but can’t sign them. The new rule makes legal what had been happening for years.
That wasn’t all Cribbs had to say, though.
Asked if he would accept a role as a special-teamer, Cribbs said:
“I’ve been on this team for many years and watched our offense struggle every [single] year but once. And every time I step on the field on the offense, the majority of the time there was an exciting play. First down. Momentum. For me not to be a part of the offense, I’m not OK with that.
“To say, ‘Hey, you’re just a special teams guy.’ I’m not OK with that. Especially after catching 42 balls as a No.3, No. 4 receiver (in 2011). You can’t say I can’t catch the ball. You can’t say if you put me on the field I’m not going to produce. Because that’s what this game is about.
“Ultimately it’s producing, putting up points and winning. But now it’s becoming more and more about whoever you draft, and opportunity for the draft pick. If these scouts didn’t bring in this guy, tough for him. He has to get in where he can get in. We have to play these guys because we drafted these guys.
“It shouldn’t be that. If you want [to win], you play the guys who are the best. Play the best guys who are going to win. Too many organizations come to the Browns trying to build instead of trying to win this year. Put all your eggs into this year.
“Because as you see, it’s not definite that you’ll be here the next year. They said (Pat) Shurmur was gonna be here for years to come, and that’s what (Mike) Holmgren was preaching, consistency in the organization. But as you see, if you don’t win there will be high turnover. Put all your eggs in one year. Win that year so you can have many more to come.”
At this point it seems like Cribbs could not do a better job of opening the door to his exit.
Joe Banner said last week that decisions have been made on the future of the Browns free agents – Cribbs and kicker [Phil Dawson] being the most prominent – but he wouldn’t say the decisions.
He did, though, stress that the Browns will emphasize youth, and bring in younger players.
That alone does not sound good for Cribbs, who isn’t exactly old at 29 but has a lot of miles on a 29-year-old body. Cribbs still remains one of the better special teams players in the league. Last season he had his best punt return average since 2007 and his best kickoff return average since 2009. He’s fearless, but he’s also not what he was in ’07 when he scored three return touchdowns or in ’09 when he scored four. Since 2009, he has one return touchdown in three seasons.
Yes, there are new kickoff rules, but it’s still not a good trend for a guy trying to stay with a team that is going younger.
Add on Cribbs’ recent chattiness and it just doesn’t seem like the Browns will want to keep him.
Cribbs is one of the most cooperative media guys on the Browns. He’s always willing to talk, it’s appreciated and a media guy should never turn away from that.
But … sometimes for the guy doing the talking, discretion is the better part of valor. And talking about your deal and a role you will not accept as free agency approaches doesn’t seem like the best way to cuddle up with this new regime. Banner does not seem like a guy who tolerates this kind of thing — especially when Cribbs basically admits that he and his agents are guilty of tampering.
Though of course his agents said that’s not so.
At this point, it’s been a great ride with Cribbs, but his future seems like it will be elsewhere.
Pat McManamon appears courtesy of [FoxSportsOhio]