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Posts Tagged ‘Free Agent’

In my last post I laid out a plan for the Browns front office brass to bring in a proven head coach to lead the team. The choices I put forward were Brian Billick, Marty Schottenheimer and David Shaw. After using my Jimmy Haslam checkbook to write one of them a large check, it’s on to a couple more large checks I need to write – pending free agents.

The Browns are actually in a pretty good position related to pending free agents with only a couple contributors eligible for free agency. Those players include center Alex Mack, strong safety T.J. Ward, guard Shawn Lauvao and kicker Billy Cundiff. Running back Willis McGahee and guard Oneil Cousins are free agents too, but they are as good as gone. In my opinion, Lauvao should be as good as gone too so let’s cross him off the list. Cundiff was solid this year, but I wouldn’t give him any more than another one-year deal and possibly look for a kicker late in the draft. That leaves Mack and Ward as the only guys the Browns need to worry about.

With Mack, it wouldn’t make sense to use the franchise tag on him as he’s lumped into the “Offensive Line” tag which is going to end up over $10 million next year. That being said, they should consider giving him a contract in the neighborhood of $5 to $6 million per year for five years which would put him in the top five or so for centers in the league. The team has the cap room, Mack is a two-time Pro-Bowler and he’s consistent and reliable.

Related to T.J. Ward, if the team can’t work out a deal they could end up slapping the Franchise Tag on Ward which would account for about $7 million. They should try to give him a long-term deal somewhere just under that of Kam Chancellor of Seattle who got a four-year deal for $28 million. I’m thinking four years at about $22 million and I’d be happy as a front office.

The next steps will be free agents from other teams and then on to the draft. I already have some strong opinions on this year’s draft, and will share those in the coming days. 

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Cleveland fans lost arguably the best player in the NBA only a couple short years ago when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach and the Miami Heat. What if Cleveland is paid back in the form of one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton Manning, spurning a lucrative offer from the Miami Dolphins in South Beach to come to Cleveland?

Obviously these two scenarios are much different as LeBron James was peaking when he turned his back on his hometown whereas Peyton Manning is on the downside of his career and is coming off a major surgery which cost him the entire 2011 season. Nonetheless, the excitement and passion that the signing of Manning would bring to Northeast Ohio would rival the anger and spite that the exodus of LeBron caused when he stabbed the Cavs and his fans in the back.

To take this unlikely scenario one step further, what if Manning came to the Browns and somehow found a way to help bring the Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl victory to Cleveland? In an area starving for a winner, a Peyton Manning-led championship would temporarily erase the memories of “The Fumble”, “The Drive”, “Red Right 88”,  and “The Decision”. Nothing could ever happen in sports to erase those memories (except maybe a Grand Slam of championships with the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers all winning in the same season) but Peyton Manning would forever be immortalized in the eyes of every sports fan in Northeast Ohio.

Could this happen? Absolutely – because the Browns are one of the few teams who not only need a quarterback, but they also have plenty of salary cap room where they could overpay and sign Manning to bring him to Cleveland. He won’t come here for a discount, but if he gets the Browns to the playoffs is he worth $15 million a year? If Manning wins them a Super Bowl I think every person in Northeast Ohio would say he’s worth $50 million!

Will he come to Cleveland? Realistically no, because the Browns don’t play in a passer friendly environment, don’t have quality receivers and run a very conservative offense. If the Browns would agree to open up the playbook and bring in a playmaker like Vincent Jackson, draft Justin Blackmon, or even bring in Manning’s go-to guy, Reggie Wayne, the offer gets a lot more appealing, but it’s still a reach. As a life-long Cleveland fan I’ve been brainwashed to give the Browns a 1% chance of signing Manning because good things don’t happen to Cleveland sports teams. However, to quote Jim Carrey (Lloyd Christmas) from Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

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Typically this time of year all you’re hearing about for two straight weeks is talk about the Super Bowl. This year there’s a little twist which is centered not on the Super Bowl itself, but instead around the host city’s biggest celebrity and athlete…Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. By now you’ve heard many different scenarios discussed about Manning’s future as well as the drama with him and owner Jim Irsay. Here are some scenarios to think about as this saga unfolds along with how and where I think he’ll ultimately end up for 2012.

1.  Manning Retires – Manning may decide his long-term health is more important than adding a few more dollars to his bank account.

2. Peyton Manning may think he has one or two seasons left in the tank and doesn’t want to leave Indianapolis. He’ll never see the $28 million bonus the Colts owe him in early March, but he may get “cut” and turn around and re-sign a new one or two-year deal with the team.

3. Because many of you who’ll read this are fellow Browns fans I’ll humor you with this scenario. Manning would come to Cleveland and immediately re-invigorate the franchise. He’s been successful with second, third and fourth string WR’s in the past and since we’re a team full of #3 and #4 receivers it won’t be any change. We could sign a big name in free agency (Marques Colston or DeSean Jackson) and immediately have a legit offense. Oh, did I mention we have 3 draft picks in the first 40 picks too? Sounds pretty good eh? Don’t hold your breath.

4. Here’s where I ultimately think he may end up and it’s a team you don’t hear anyone else talking about…the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars played most of 2011 with first round pick Blaine Gabbert at QB. He was the only QB statistically worse than Tim Tebow last season…what does that tell you? They have a new owner who’s likely going to move the team to L.A. at some point and would love nothing more than making a splash bigger than his mustache (hands down the best mustache in the NFL…better than Brad Childress or Andy Reid). They have a new offensive-minded head coach in Mike Mularkey which Manning should love as he knows a little something about offense himself. Also, the Jags have been struggling like no other team in the league to sell tickets. You can’t tell me bringing in Peyton Manning wouldn’t immediately help sell TENS OF THOUSANDS of tickets for the next year or two and instantly make your team relevant again.

Time will tell what happens, but you heard it here first if he end up as a Jaguar. Selfishly I’d love to see the Browns sign him, but who’s the last big-name free agent to EVER come to any Cleveland team? It’s not going to be Manning either.

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