Another called Gordon a "faster Brandon Marshall." Schefter acknowledges "major questions" about Gordon's maturity, determination, and decision making. The NFL clearly was high on Gordon's on-field ability, even if the Moss and Marshall comparisons are over the top. The Browns believe they've formed their three-wide set of the future with Gordon, Greg Little, and Travis Benjamin.Well, all right all right. It is time for the receivers coaches to really take this group by the scruff of their neck and help them mature to the next level. These three on paper could be pretty deadly, but don't go letting the national media in on the secret. Let these guys get in camp and quietly progress from day-to-day, week-by-week. If Weedon is truly what some believe he is then he should vastly improve this offense with these key additions.
The surprise wasn't that three "franchised" players - wide receiver Dwayne Bowe of Kansas City, defensive end Cliff Avril of Detroit and San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson - failed to reach any kind of agreement before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline for signing multi-year deals.
Instead, it was that three players reached long-term agreements on the final day of negotiations. Arguably, most surprising was that the trio of long-term contracts included deals for tailbacks Ray Rice of Baltimore (five years, $40 million) and Chicago's Matt Forte (four years, $32 million). The other big contract on Monday went to Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee, who had suggested that his ability to kick off should merit a premium, and did, at $13.8 million over four years.
But the contracts for Forte and Rice accentuated that teams pay lip service to the notion that running backs are an endangered species, arguably a high-risk/short-shelf life position that should not merit a prohibitive investment, but rarely adhere to the cautionary approach they so often publicly espouse.
It's early and the structures of the Forte and Rice contracts will be critical, especially the "real" guarantees (the definition of which varies from one agent to the next) and the payouts in the first three seasons, in gauging overall value. But the contracts join those of running backs such as LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia), Arian Foster (Houston), Marshawn Lynch (Seattle), Chris Johnson (Tennessee), DeAngelo Williams (Carolina) and Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) in belying the notion that tailback is becoming a fungible position.
That is hardly to suggest that Rice and Forte weren't deserving of their $8 million-a-year deals. Both players are workhorses for their clubs and critical to the success of their teams. But Rice will be 29 when his contract enters its final season, and Forte will be the same age going into the final year of his, and that's an age, it seems, when a runner historically begins to fade.
That said, it's hard to imagine the Baltimore offensive being nearly as productive without Rice, who has averaged 356.3 "touches" since becoming a starter three years ago. And even with the offseason addition of Michael Bush as insurance, the Bears are a far better team with Forte, who has averaged 309.3 "touches" in four seasons as a starter.
The multiple-year contracts, though, are the latest example that NFL teams usually say one thing and, come deadline time, make the expedient move.
A couple other franchise notes:
--Scobee, who compiled 39 touchbacks in 2011, was insistent in negotiations that kickoffs should count for something, and he apparently won over Jacksonville officials. One of three franchise kickers to sign long-term contracts, his is worth the most, at least in raw numbers. Matt Prater of Denver, who also kicks off, landed a four-year, $13 million contract. Tampa Bay's Connor Barth, whose team has punter Michael Koenen kick off, got a four-year, $13.2 million contract.
--The contracts signed by Calais Campbell of Arizona and Indianapolis' Robert Mathis (who will move to linebacker as the Colts transition to a 3-4 in 2012), were not template enough to get a deal for Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril. The four-year veteran said Monday that he harbors no ill-will toward Lions officials, but it seemed from the beginning that the negotiations were borderline contentious. Avril will play the '12 season for $10.6 million, and it will cost Detroit $12.72 to use the tag on him again next season.
--Goldson was in the same boat as Avril. While it seemed the long-term contracts for Michael Griffin (Tennessee) and more recently for Oakland's Tyvon Branch might provide a blueprint for a multiple-year contract, that didn't happen. So Goldson will earn $6.2 million in 2012.
--There were only two other franchise wide receivers, and it seemed fairly obvious from the outset that the Chiefs, who will now pay Bowe $9.4 million, and the Patriots ($9.4 million for Wes Welker) weren't going to approximate Philadelphia's long-term deal with DeSean Jackson. The Pats seemed well aware of Welker's age (31) and the Chiefs of Bowe's work ethic.
--Of the 21 franchise players, a dozen negotiated long-term contracts, while six signed one-year tenders. The salaries for the six "tendered" players: kickers Mike Nugent of Cincinnati ($2.654 million) and Cleveland's Phil Dawson ($3.81 million); Washington tight end Fred Davis ($5.446 million); wide receiver Wes Welker of New England ($9.4 million); linebacker Anthony Spencer of Dallas ($8.856 million); and Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes ($10.28 million). None of the six, it seemed, ever got close to hammering out a long-term accord.
--This marks the second straight season in which Dawson will play under the one-year franchise tag. The Browns can use the marker for 2013, but would have to pay Dawson more than $5 million. So Dawson, 37, will either sign a long-term contract next spring or, more likely, be allowed to go into free agency.
--Of the 12 players who landed long-term contracts, five signed their deals since last Friday, headed by quarterback Drew Brees' five-year, $100 million contract. Proving once again that, as they always do, deadlines precipitate action in the NFL.
Len Pasquarelli is a Senior Writer for The Sports Xchange.
1. The coaches want Brandon Weeden to get all the time he needs with the starters to make sure they are in sync when the season opens. Weeden has not been named the starter yet, but it would be the biggest story of training camp if the 22nd pick in the draft this year does not end up starting. Weeden played five years of minor league baseball with the Yankees, Dodgers and Royals, so he is not overwhelmed about being a pro athlete. Neither he nor the Browns are concerned he will be 28 in his first NFL training camp. He is, though, still a rookie. How quickly Weeden adjusts to NFL defenses after playing in the Big 12 will be the key factor in how much the Browns improve on their 4-12 record in 2011.
2. Improving the offensive line is critical to any jump the Browns make in the AFC North. Rookie Mitchell Schwartz will be the starting right tackle from the first day of training camp. Getting him plenty of practice against the pass rush is essential in keeping Weeden vertical. Right tackle was a major problem for the Browns last season, though the problems cannot all be pinned on Tony Pashos. He tried to play with a foot injury that required surgery after the season ended. He would likely have missed all of 2012 so the Browns released him. Schwartz isn't the only player being counted on to fortify the line. Left guard Jason Pinkston and right guard Shawn Lauvao are second-year starters and should be able to build on what they did last year.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Coach Pat Shurmur says second-year tight end Jordan Cameron made one of the biggest leaps from last year, based on his conditioning in the offseason. Cameron then continued to show that improvement on the field during OTAs and minicamp. Incumbent starting tight end Benjamin Watson fought through three concussions last season. The last one landed him on injured reserve for the final three games. Cameron is quicker than Watson. More because of a numbers game than anything else, Cameron was inactive in eight games last year. He caught five passes in the final three games when Watson was on injured reserve. He will have to show his blocking has improved as much as his route running and hands to unseat Watson, but he will get plenty of opportunities to do that in training camp.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi is entering his fourth season as a starter. He has seven career touchdown catches and never caught more than 36 passes in one season. He was a second-round draft pick in 2009, the same year the Browns drafted Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie in the second round. They gave up on Robiskie last year. They are not at that point with Massaquoi, but he will have to produce if he expects to re-sign with the Browns next year. The Browns selected Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft by investing a second-round pick in 2013. General manager Tom Heckert says Gordon can eventually start. That should be a signal to Massaquoi, who has to get tougher to be a No. 1 receiver.
Gordon selected in supplemental draft
--The Browns put in a bid of a second-round pick in the supplemental draft Thursday (July 12) and were awarded Baylor/Utah wide receiver Josh Gordon. By doing so, the Browns will not have their second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
"He's a big kid," general manager Tom Heckert said. "He's a little over 6-3 and he is 225. He can run and he has huge hands and long arms. He is an impressive looking kid. There were some concerns about him, so I drilled him pretty hard when I was with him. He didn't back down and he told me everything that I thought I needed to hear from him."
Gordon was suspended by Baylor in 2011 following a marijuana arrest. He transferred to Utah and sat out the season. He caught 42 passes for 714 yards and seven touchdowns for Baylor in 2010.
On Monday (July 16), Gordon signed a four-year contract.
--Gordon is the first player taken by the Browns in the supplemental draft since they were awarded quarterback Bernie Kosar with a first-round pick in 1985.
--Rookies took a break from their normal routine on June 20 when they worked with 250 youngsters at the conclusion of a three-day youth football camp in Cleveland Browns Stadium. The participants, ranging in age between 7 and 12, learned fundamentals such as blocking, kicking and passing.
Case McCoy tweeted: "Good luck Brandon (Weeden). Fan of you, but my brother's pulling the lucky straw on this one. Cleveland is only going downhill!" He followed that by tweeting "That is, if these rumors are true."
The younger McCoy might be wishing he talked to Colt before going the social media route. When he discovered McCoy is still a Browns quarterback - for now - he felt compelled to tweet again. "Fake ESPN accounts are nuts. Got me fired up over nothing! Still kinda meant what I said."
The Browns say Colt McCoy is not on the trading block "right now," but haven't ruled out trading him at some point.
--Jim Brown is willing to listen if Mike Holmgren wants to talk, the Browns' all-time great running back told Cleveland.com
Brown has treated the Browns frostily for two years, ever since Holmgren eliminated his job as executive advisor to Randy Lerner. The job paid a reported $500,000 a year.
During a press conference, Holmgren said he would welcome Brown back "with open arms" and said, "How the Browns view Jim Brown hasn't changed and will never change." He did not say, however, that Brown can have his old job back.
"I've always been attracted to anyone who has the class to reach out," Brown said. "I am a Cleveland Brown, but it is always up to those in control to decide what they want to do."
--Without going into detail, running back Trent Richardson, selected by the Browns with the third overall pick in the draft, said his contract is "about done," but he is waiting on first pick Andrew Luck and second pick Robert Griffin III to sign their contracts.
"We're just waiting on the big boys," he said.
--Backup defensive tackle Kiante Tripp was in jail in Atlanta on Tuesday on a felony burglary charge, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
"We are aware of the incident involving Kiante Tripp," Browns general manager Tom Heckert said in a statement. "We are currently gathering information related to it, and will not have any further comment at this time."
Tripp, 24, was arrested along with two others Sunday afternoon at an apartment in a suburb of Atlanta. Investigators told WAGA-TV in Atlanta that Tripp and the other two men were looking for a man and money that allegedly was stolen from them. They reportedly had guns when the alleged burglary occurred.
Tripp was signed to the Browns' practice squad last October and promoted to the active roster in November. He got into three games in 2011.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't wait to get started and acclimated to a new city as well as the team. I want to be able to contribute to the offense in any way I can, and I am ready to come in and work hard to make that happen." - Wide receiver Josh Gordon after being taken by the Browns in the supplemental draft.
Owner Jim Irsay has been tweeting about it being close for what seems like a month, but Indianapolis Star beat writer Mike Chappell tweeted out the news minutes ago.
There’s no drama left in such negotiations, as the Colts weren’t in a position to quibble over offset language. From a financial standpoint, it was expected all along to be nearly identical to the four-year, $22 million deal Cam Newton got a year ago.
Okay h&h get off your fat ases and get TRich & Weeden signed
what are you MORONS Waiting on ???????????????????
Okay h&h get off your fat ases and get TRich & Weeden signed
what are you MORONS Waiting on ???????????????????
Where's the next batch of KOOL-AID
Camps a comin' and we're all abit thirsty.
As the Browns prepare to embark upon their second season under Pat Shurmur there are many questions that remain. With training camp opening Sat. July 28, we’re going to take a position-by-position analysis of the current roster as the team heads to camp over the next two weeks.
We’ve looked at the offense and now in part seven we look at the linebackers.
The Browns went to training camp in 2011 with a very thin group of linebackers. D’Qwell Jackson was coming off of back-to-back seasons on injured reserve, Scott Fujita finished the season 2010 on the injured list, as well. Chris Gocong was the other projected starter and he had a pinched nerve in his neck missing the entire 2011 preseason.
Jackson proved the Browns faith in him to be valid as he had one of the best seasons of his career, finishing second in the NFL in tackles. Gocong played extremely well and the Browns signed him to a long-term contract. Fujita finished the season on injured reserve for the second-straight season.
In 2012, barring something unforeseen, Fujita will miss the first three games for his part in the Saints bounty scandal. Kaluka Maiava is expected to start on the weak side and Gocong on the strong side.
The Browns did draft two linebackers, James-Michael Johnson in the fourth-round and Emmanuel Acho in the sixth-round. Both are being counted on to compete for playing time, particularly Johnson, who might push Maiava for playing time.
Jackson (6-0, 240, 7th year, Maryland) – Jackson led the Browns with 158 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries. He also had an interception. Jackson was second in the NFL to the Redskins’ London Fletcher. The Browns signed him to a long-term contract after the season.
Gocong (6-2, 263, 7th year, Cal Poly SLO) – Gocong started 10 games at weak side linebacker and the final 6 games on the strong side. He finished with 67 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The Browns signed him to a multiyear contract.
Fujita (6-5, 250, 11th year, California) – Fujita started 10 games and had 51 tackles with one interception, all at strong side linebacker. He missed one game with concussion and the last five games on injured reserve with a broken hand. Fujita played 9 games in 2010 before being placed on injured reserve. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2006 and at 33-years old, the Browns have to find his replacement in the near future.
Maiava (6-0, 229, 4th year, Southern Cal) – Maiava made six starts, taking over at weak side when Fujita went down. He finished with 24 tackles and is the leading candidate to replace Fujita for the first three games while Fujita is on suspension.
Spears (6-4, 234, 2nd year, Prairie View A&M) – Spears played in 13 games, but almost exclusively is a special teams player. He finished fourth on the team with 8 special team tackles. Spears missed three games with a hamstring injury.
Jacobs (6-4, 243, 1st year, Fresno State) – After a promising preseason, Jacobs spent the first 11 games on the practice squad, before being added to the active roster for the final five games. He did not make any tackles, but should be in the mix for depth at the position in 2012.
Dickson (6-1, 245, 1st year, Idaho) – Free agent signed during the off-season, but he will be long-shot to make the roster.
Robertson (6-1, 229, 1st year, North Texas) – Similar to Dickson, Robertson will need to make a fast impression to stay on the roster after being signed as a free agent.
Johnson (6-1, 240, Rookie, Nevada) – Johnson was a very productive player at Nevada and can play both on the inside and the outside. He was the Browns’ second pick in the fourth-round.
Acho (6-1, 240, Rookie, Texas) – Acho is another athletic player the Browns added for depth at linebacker. Acho was taken in the sixth-round.
Fort (6-0, 230, Rookie, Northern Iowa) – He is an undrafted rookie free agent that is hoping to make the practice squad if not the active roster.
Better than 2011?: The Browns had very little depth at linebacker in 2011, but were fortunate that Jackson and Gocong each played all 16 games. Fujita has shown he is at the end of his career. The Browns have to find his replacement, whether it is Maiava or either rookie Johnson or Acho.
The group is still not very deep and it would be a big bonus if Johnson or Acho can contribute immediately. It is very similar to the defensive line position where John Hughes and Billy Wynn are counted on to step in immediately.
"Going into April’s daft, the Browns “needed” help at wide receiver, running back, right tackle, and maybe defensive line/secondary, with the eternal question mark remaining at quarterback. As we all know, they selected Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden in the first round, then Mitchell Schwartz in the second, and now the addition of Josh Gordon with another second. So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s a running back, a quarterback, a right tackle, and a wide receiver, with the third-rounder being a defensive lineman. When the schedule came out this year, the Browns were pegged to have another bad season. Like…really bad. They’re projected to be the underdog in something like 14 out of 16 games. No one expects a bunch of rookies to come in and turn this team around. Yet people are making judgments about how Tom Heckert has drafted very nicely and is setting the team up for some major improvements. My question is simply this: Who cares? Even if the team miraculously turns in a monster season, clicks on all cylinders, and becomes a – gasp! - playoff team, there’s no way of knowing what sparked it. For as terrible as last season was, if you changed the outcome of about five plays, the Browns could have had eight wins. It’s a fickle game."