Tag:Cleveland Browns
Posted on: February 27, 2012 4:18 pm
 

Browns GM Heckert had heart surgery

By Josh Katzowitz

It caused a minor stir last week when it was revealed by the Browns that general manager Tom Heckert wouldn’t travel for the combine because he was “ill,” but that he should be fine to return to work this week.

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If you count “needing heart surgery” as being “ill,” then I guess Heckert was, in fact, ill.

That’s what Cleveland president Mike Holmgren announced at a press conference Monday afternoon when he revealed (via the Cleveland Plain Dealer) Heckert underwent heart surgery to clear a blockage and that he was recovering well.

Holmgren said Heckert -- who Holmgren said did not have a heart attack -- would return to the office Tuesday and would continue to be an integral part of the Browns draft efforts.

Heckert also missed the Senior Bowl, but he participated in combine interviews with potential draft picks the past week via Skype.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 2:11 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 2:15 pm
 

Report: D'Qwell Jackson gets $42.5 mil extension

Jackson wanted a five-year extension, and that's exactly what he got. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

D’Qwell Jackson was one of the best comeback stories of 2011. Though Matthew Stafford took home the AP comeback player of the year award, Jackson was as good a candidate for that honor as anybody.

After missing two seasons because of pectoral injuries, Jackson returned as a force in 2011, leading the AFC with 158 tackles (second-best in the NFL), recording a career-high 3.5 sacks and recovering three fumbles (tied for best in the AFC)*.

Now, the Browns are rewarding him, as they’ve announced they’ve signed him to a multiyear contract extension. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the deal is for five years and $42.5 million (including $19 million in guarantees and bonuses).

*Obviously, the hyperbaric chamber he loves so much was one reason he was so successful. At least in his mind.

The news obviously is great for Jackson, who wanted a five-year extension, but it’s also a positive step for the Browns, who were thinking about placing the franchise tag on Jackson at about $8.8 million for 2012.

As the Plain Dealer wrote earlier this month, the Browns also were thinking about tagging kicker Phil Dawson. That would cost them about $3.8 million since they also tagged him last season. Running back Peyton Hillis also remains an option to be tagged.

"Do I want to be back? This is where I started," Jackson told the paper in mid-February. "That's not even an afterthought to me. Yes, I want to be with the Browns, no question about it. I'm here in this locker room and I like the guys I'm playing with right now. That's all that matters."

"They indicated they wanted me back when they gave me an opportunity to come back after an injury; that was enough for me. That told me that they wanted me back. I was out for 26 games and they could've easily gone in a different direction, but they didn't. I owe it to them in a sense."

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:07 pm
 

Report: Browns will go after Matt Flynn

Flynn

By Josh Katzowitz

The list of potential suitors for Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn continues to grow. Already, you know the Dolphins are interested, and Green Bay probably would like to bring him back so the team can then (possibly) trade him away.

But according to the Canton Repository, the Browns also will make a play for the fourth-year veteran who’s made exactly two starts in his career (though he admittedly was pretty awesome in both those starts).

As Steve Doerschuk writes, “There will be a budget that will not be exceeded in the play for Flynn. Peyton Manning’s presence on the market drives down his price.  … That still leaves the Dolphins as a suitor … and as the likely lander of Flynn.”

The paper also notes that Browns president Mike Holmgren is “no great fan” of quarterback competition, and if Cleveland can land Flynn, the team would make him the starter instead of Colt McCoy.

It’s still unclear whether the Browns, who hold the No. 4 spot in April’s draft, will try to trade with the Rams to move up to the No. 2 position to grab Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, but on Wednesday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur had some nice things to say about McCoy*.

In like Flynn?
"We're looking forward him to improving through the offseason," Shurmur said. "I think it will make a big difference in year two (of) me being here.  I told him to prepare himself to get as much out of this offseason as possible. I'm expecting him to attack this offseason and get as good as he can get within our system. He really works at things and that's going to help him."

*Basically, it seems like nobody has any idea what the Browns will do.

Flynn, meanwhile, is looking forward to striking out on his own as a potential starting quarterback.

"I'm a confident person but the element of the unknown makes you wish March 13 was tomorrow," Flynn said this week. "I've loved being a Packer, and it's not 100 percent sure I'm leaving Green Bay, but as a competitor and football player, that's what you play the game for -- to be a starter in the league. Hopefully some teams will be interested in me and I can find a good opportunity. I want to lead a team and I'm excited about it. But I can't talk to teams now. I don't know if I'm on their radar. It's going to be a long month leading up to that time -- waiting and wondering."

While you still have to consider Miami the favorite to land Flynn (even if there are no billboards of him on I-95) because of the connection with new Dolphins coach/former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, it will be interesting to see if the Browns actually can make themselves a player in this lottery.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 4:24 pm
 

Shurmur believes Colt McCoy can improve

McCoy

By Josh Katzowitz

Because the Rams hold the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL draft and because they already have a franchise quarterback, it makes sense that the Browns, holding the No. 4 selection, would try to trade up so they can grab Robert Griffin III.

Even though Colt McCoy has had some success as the Browns quarterback the past two years, much of the speculation surrounding the Cleveland quarterback situation center around the Browns trying to find another quarterback to replace him.

Count Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur among those who aren’t sure replacing McCoy is the best solution.

"We're looking forward him to improving through the offseason," Shurmur told reporters, including the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I think it will make a big difference in year two (of) me being here.  I told him to prepare himself to get as much out of this offseason as possible. I'm expecting him to attack this offseason and get as good as he can get within our system. He really works at things and that's going to help him."

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So, McCoy can actually improve, then? That’s strange for a coach to say.

"I'm expecting that he will and the thing that's encouraging to me is that he's a guy you know [is] going to work at it," said Shurmur, who also reported McCoy is completely healed from the late-season concussion he sustained. "Heck, I think he can be very good. If he plays at a high level like I think he can, when he makes these improvements, that means he can help us win football games and I think that's what you're looking for at the end of the day -- put the ball in the end zone and win games."

Of course, the Browns would be silly if they didn’t study Griffin at this week’s scouting combine, but perhaps whatever they’d have to give up for Griffin might be too much to bear if the team really feels like McCoy can be the guy. Or Shurmur could just ask CBS analyst Rich Gannon.

"I know people are saying, 'Is this guy a player?' but there's a lot of things to like about him," Gannon said last season. "I mean, there's something about him that makes me think he's got a chance. I like him. ...

"People don't understand that you've got develop the quarterback position," Gannon said. "We're making a huge mistake in the NFL with these young guys. These coaches come in and say, 'He's not my guy, I want to get rid of him,' and then they bring another guy in. Then it takes a couple of years to develop that guy. Meanwhile, they fire that head coach, and the next guy comes in. It's a terrible cycle."

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Posted on: February 15, 2012 6:14 pm
 

Mayock: Browns should trade up for RG3

If the Browns make a move for Robert Griffin III the Colt McCoy era is officially over. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock loves football. It comes through in his work as a color analyst for Notre Dame and Thursday night NFL games, and it's clear as day when he starts ramping up for the draft. On Wednesday, Mayock held a conference call with the media to talk about next week's combine and the two months leading up to the biggest day of the offseason.

Conventional wisdom is that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is a bonafide star at the next level, often described as the "next John Elway." Not surprisingly, Mayock has Luck as his top-rated quarterback but with the understanding that Luck is, in fact, mortal.

“I don’t put him up there as a once-in-a-lifetime guy … I’m not sitting there saying he’s going to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning,” he said via NFL.com.

Mayock thinks that Luck will blow teams away with his classroom smarts and willingly acknowledges his physical gifts. “All those top teams are going to come away saying, ‘Wow I want that guy,’“ he said.

The bigger takeaway from the conference call? Mayock is a big Robert Griffin III fan. So much so that he thinks the Browns, who currently hold the No. 4 pick, might want to give serious consideration to trading up two spots to draft him.

“You probably have the opportunity to move up and get him if you want him,” Mayock said. “To me that’s a pretty exciting proposition. (Griffin) might be most exciting offensive player in this draft.”

Mayock thought Cleveland's two first-round picks (fourth and 22nd) should be enough to get them to No. 2.

“If I were the Rams, I would be ecstatic with that deal,” he said. “If you’re moving down two slots and picking up the 22nd pick, I’d be happy with that. I would be very happy with that deal.”

One caveat (ours, not Mayock's): never underestimate what the Redskins would be willing to give up to get a guy they've fallen in love with. Assuming Peyton Manning is suddenly off everyone's board given the most recent news, and the 'Skins aren't interested in any of the other free-agent offerings, RG3 could be a distinct possibility.

“[If I'm the Browns,] I want to go get RG3," Mayock continued. "I’m going to examine free agency also, but in draft I’m looking to move up to No. 2 as opposed to No. 3. … I’d rather not give up No. 22 also, but I think that’s shortsighted when you talk about securing your future at the most important position in all of sports.”

The Browns making a move for RG3 isn't new. Here's what we wrote on January 17:

CBSSports.com mock draft experts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler both have Cleveland grabbing RGIII, decisions no doubt made easier by Colt McCoy's struggles in 2011 coupled with head coach Pat Shurmur's indifferent take on McCoy's future as the starter.

And the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi added at the time: "I would not automatically eliminate the Baylor quarterback from consideration with the Browns' top pick simply because he is a product of the one-read, shotgun spread offense."

In fact, not only are the Browns giving serious consideration to RG3, we'd imagine that the Colts won't rush to any conclusions on Luck without evaluating Griffin. We're not saying this is like Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning back in 1998, but there's no reason for Indy not to extensively scout both players.

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Posted on: January 31, 2012 11:34 am
 

Report: Browns now want Peyton Hillis back

Hills could be back in Cleveland next year. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

2011 wasn't Peyton Hillis' year. But maybe 2012 already got him clear of the Madden Curse, as the Browns reportedly want to re-sign the running back, despite his injuries during the previous season.

That's according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, who reports that Hillis "worked his way back into the team's good graces" over the final six weeks of the season, and that Cleveland would like him back in 2012.

Hillis struggled with injuries, a belief that he was soft, playing time, and all the other things that accompany the Madden Curse in 2011. After busting out for 1,177 yards in 2011, Hillis took a major step back in 2012, rushing for just 587 yards in 10 games, nine of which he started.

At one point, he was the embodiment of Cleveland athletics, a blue-collar guy whose style of running fit perfectly with the way Cleveland sees itself. Which is precisely why the Browns kept saying they'd re-sign him.

That they're now interested in locking up Hillis again is interesting, but perhaps the timing of the interest is obvious, given how much cheaper  Hillis will be to sign than he was a year ago at this time.

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 9:27 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 8:59 pm
 

Browns hire Brad Childress for OC

Chilly might be about to get back in the playcalling business. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Thursday, the Bucs landed Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, eliminating Brad Childress and Mike Sherman as candidates. And with another domino -- Sherman to Miami -- about to fall, it looks like a good bet that Childress will wind up with the Browns.

That's precisely what the Browns did Friday, announcing that Childress has been hired as their offensive coordinator. 

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Cabot points out that Sherman and Childress were the Browns top two options, and with Sherman signing with the Dolphins, it means Childress' top option is Cleveland, and Childress is Cleveland's top option as well.

The marriage makes sense. As Andy Reid's offensive coordinator with the Eagles, Childress twice architected a top-10 passing offense, and he managed that with the Vikings once as well. (It's really unfair to judge his passing production in Minnesota, what with Adrian Peterson on the roster and all; the Vikings were quite good at rushing the ball.)

And Browns coach Pat Shurmur was the tight ends coach and quarterbacks coach in Philly under Chilly. They know each other. "Very well," according to Shurmur recently.

Shurmur didn't hire an offensive coordinator in his first season and called the plays himself. Cleveland finished 24th in passing yards in the NFL, 27th in passing touchdowns, 30th in net yards per passing attempt, 28th in rushing yards and 32nd in rushing touchdowns and 31st in net yards per rushing attempt. (Football Outsiders is a touch more generous, ranking them 25th overall in offensive efficiency.)

So, um, not good. Shurmur declined to commit to Colt McCoy in his season wrap-up, and that made most of the headlines. But he also wouldn't rule out the possibility of having someone come in and call plays for him.

"It's important that I get the best coordinator I can for us," Shurmur said. "I think that's one of the details that'll get worked out as we go through the process. I want to get the best guy I can. And if he's outstanding at calling plays, listen, I want to win games, and so I'm gonna get the guys in there that are gonna help us do that."

Ultimately, it's a logical conclusion. Childress and Shurmur are former co-workers. Both of them are disciples of Reid, who's a direct coaching-tree descendent of Browns president Mike Holmgren.

The transition to Chilly calling plays would likely be seamless. The Browns just need to figure out those "who's our quarterback" and "where can we get playmakers" problems.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 1:42 pm
 

Would Browns trade up to get Robert Griffin III?

Would Cleveland give McCoy the Heisman and go with Griffin? (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

We wondered last week if the Browns, who hold the No. 4 pick in the April draft, might give serious consideration to taking Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. CBSSports.com mock draft experts Rob Rang and Dane Brugler both have Cleveland grabbing RGIII, decisions no doubt made easier by Colt McCoy's struggles in 2011 coupled with head coach Pat Shurmur's indifferent take on McCoy's future as the starter.

“As we go forward here with Colt, he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said shortly after the Browns' season ended. “Get him back healthy, get him in an offseason where he has a chance to develop. I expect that Colt will improve just like I expect (backup) Seneca (Wallace) will improve and whoever the quarterbacks are here. I think that can be said for all positions, so the best quarterback will play when we start the season.”

In his mock draft posted Tuesday, NFL.com's Sam Wyche has the Browns trading up two spots to No. 2 to take -- you guessed it -- Griffin. He writes that "Several teams are going to try and move up to get Griffin but the Browns have the most ammo -- the fourth overall pick and a late first-rounder or high picks in later rounds. Cleveland needs Griffin -- and wants him, according to league sources -- and the Rams will still get their man."

Seems reasonable, even given what Browns general manager Tom Heckert said recently (via the Canton Repository):

“In a perfect world, we would stay at 4, but it’s not a perfect world," he noted. "If we think we can get the same guy by moving down a few spots getting an extra pick or picks, why not do that?”

And then there's this from last week, by way of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Tony Grossi: "I would not automatically eliminate the Baylor quarterback from consideration with the Browns' top pick simply because he is a product of the one-read, shotgun spread offense."

Of course, Kevin Kolb was also mentioned as a possibility should the Cardinals decide that they'd seen enough after one uninspiring season. As we wrote previously, we're not convinced Kolb is much of an upgrade over McCoy, and certainly not at starting-quarterback money. But whatever happens this much is certain: the Browns absolutely have to nail this draft. It's up to team president Mike Holmgren, Heckert and Shurmur to figure out if Griffin is part of that conversation.

And if he's not, there are sure to be teams interested in trading up to grab him. Earlier this month we mentioned the Redskins as a possibility, something draft expert Chris Steuber echoed again Tuesday.

"We all agree that a team will trade up for RG3. My money is on the Redskins. Daniel Snyder, for better or worse, rolls high stakes dice."

If there's any team that needs a quarterback more than the Browns, it's the Redskins.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com