Terry Pluto in the Cleveland Plain Dealer praised Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers for looking like the “only winners” among the Browns’ unhappy free agents. Harrison and Vickers were the only restricted free agents in Cleveland to participate in the bulk of the team’s offseason programs. The other restricted free agents – D’Qwell Jackson, Matt Roth and Abe Elam – did not sign their tenders until the June 15 deadline and have not been around the team.
[Harrison and Vickers] signed a type of insurance form and showed up for at least some of the OTAs and minicamps. Even wiser was [RFA] Jason Trusnik, the Nordonia product who signed his $1.7 million offer a few months ago. He realized the key word in restricted free agent is "restricted."
That means you ain't going anywhere, because the Browns could match any offer you receive. Because the Browns had the right to match any offer ... well ... there would be no offers.
So sign the one-year deal, have a good year and then cash in when you're unrestricted and teams could freely bid for you. That's how it works. In the meantime, all are being paid about $1.7 million.
The argument many restricted free agents made was that, by not signing, they were maximizing their rights as free agents. Because the uncapped year drastically limited many of those rights, it was important to fully maximize what was left.
But several players, such as Atari Bigby in Green Bay, Deuce Lutui in Arizona or, perhaps, Abe Elam in Cleveland, may come to realize that, by staying away, they opened the door for their starting job and let someone else walk right through it. That’s a point Pluto made, writing “Abe, you should have been in camp. You're not good enough to hold out. You were cut twice before Mangini signed you with the Jets. You had 17 career starts before Mangini brought you to the Browns last season.”
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