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Tag:Cleveland Browns
Posted on: January 10, 2012 5:29 pm
 

Report: RG3 'informing' Baylor he's going to NFL

Griffin's met with Briles and is reportedly heading to the NFL. (AP)
By Will Brinson

On Sunday during The NFL Today, CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported that Baylor quarterback (and second-rated would-be draftee) Robert Griffin III would think over his NFL Draft decision, meet with Baylor coach Art Briles on Tuesday and make a call on whether to go pro or not.

He's reportedly made that call and, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, he's "informing" Briles that he will enter the NFL Draft. Mortensen writes all that's left for the Heisman winner is to pick an agent, which could happen by Tuesday evening.

Briles said earlier Tuesday, via our NFL Draft Scout amigos, that Griffin is "contemplating what he feels like is the thing that's going to give him peace."

2012 NFL Draft

In our most recent 2012 NFL Mock Drafts, Griffin, who is the No. 3-ranked prospect overall in our rankings, went to the Browns in both cases.

When the real draft rolls around, there's a pretty good chance that RG3 wouldn't even last that long; there's plenty of rumors circulating that the Redskins will make a move to leapfrog the Browns for the second- or third-overall pick.

We already know that the Rams are locked in on Sam Bradford and that the Vikings are committed to Christian Ponder as their starter for the future.

That means both teams will be looking to maximize the value out of their respective draft slots, and that could very easily equate to a trade down that involves either the Redskins, the Dolphins, or some other surprise team.

All of this is to say that it makes absolute sense for Griffin to make a leap to the pros now, rather than waiting a year. So it's no surprise to hear that's exactly what he's doing.

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Posted on: January 10, 2012 4:41 pm
Edited on: January 10, 2012 5:00 pm
 

Could Browns be interested in RG3, Kolb?

McCoy's stint as Cleveland's starter may already be over. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Browns begin this offseason like most others: with plenty of questions at key positions and plenty of needs at others. Chief among them: quarterback.

Cleveland drafted Colt McCoy in the third round in 2010, team president Mike Holmgren's first year with the organization. Injuries forced McCoy onto the field as a rookie and despite the odds, he fared well. So well, in fact, that he appeared to have the job for 2011 and hopefully longer.

Instead, McCoy's sophomore season was a combination of an unoriginal offensive philosophy, a paucity of playmakers, and in the end, injuries. He didn't play the final three weeks of the season and first-year head coach Pat Shurmur was uninterested in committing to McCoy as the team's starter in 2012.

“As we go forward here with Colt, he’s done some really good things,” Shurmur said according to wire reports. “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.”


The Browns have the No. 4 and No. 22 picks in April's draft and it's reasonable to think that they'll seriously consider a quarterback. Andrew Luck is destined for Indianapolis, who'll take him first overall, but the next two teams -- the Rams and the Vikings -- drafted their franchise QBs in 2010 (Sam Bradford) and 2011 (Christian Ponder). Which means that, even with USC's Matt Barkley returning to school, Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III of Baylor should be on the board. And Cleveland could be interested.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Tony Grossi writes that "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."

Not a ringing endorsement, but it's also January. A lot can change between now and late April. A lot can change between now and the start March too, when the Cardinals owe Kevin Kolb a $7 million roster bonus.

So why mention Kolb in the middle of a post about the Browns' quarterback needs? Yep, that's right -- should the Cards decide to cut their losses with Kolb after one season, Cleveland might be a potential landing spot.

And that prospect brings us back to Grossi:

"Baylor coach Art Briles was the coach at University of Houston when Kevin Kolb rolled up similar numbers -- without the rushing yards and touchdowns -- in the very same offense. … Kolb was a much better quarterback in the West Coast offense in which he was schooled in Philadelphia. Arizona doesn't run it. Also, Kolb was drafted by Philadelphia partly based on evaluations made by (Tom) Heckert and coach Pat Shurmur -- the Browns' top two football men. Heckert was the Eagles' general manager, though he didn't have final football authority, and Shurmur was the team's quarterbacks coach."

Kolb is one year into a five-year deal in Arizona that will pay him $63 million, including $20 million in guarantees. But a concussion and a toe injury limited him to just nine games in 2011 where he completed 57.7 of his passes for 1,955 yards, 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.

We're not convinced Kolb is much of an upgrade over McCoy, and certainly not at starting-quarterback money. Which is why, at least at this early stage of the process, that RGIII could be the frontrunner. Unless, of course, the Browns draft Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill. The Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot writes that the team "will likely take a hard look" at him, too.

Whatever happens, the organization has to nail this draft. With an extra first and fourth-rounder courtesy of the Falcons, and coming off a four-win season, Holmgren can turns things around quickly with the right players. Otherwise, the team's future will look a lot like its past and present.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:10 pm
 

Sherman close to landing Bucs gig, Chilly as OC?

Could Sherman and Chilly wind up in Tampa together? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Buccaneers are currently searching for a head coach and as CBSSports.com's Clark Judge reported on Friday, they want a disciplinarian first and foremost.

Which is why it makes sense for the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora to report Sunday that Tampa Bay is closing in on Mike Sherman as their choice to take over for the recently-fired Raheem Morris.

LaCanfora reports that Sherman is "well-positioned" to land the gig and that "a decision could be announced this week."

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Sherman was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Rams gig, but his interview with the Bucs last week apparently went well and he fits the profile for what they want (read: the opposite of Morris.)

And LaCanfora has an interesting possibility for a member of Sherman's staff too: former Vikings head coach Brad Childress, who's been out of coaching since being relieved of his duties in Minnesota in 2010.

Though Sherman and Childress haven't worked together previously, they do come from the same coaching tree. Chilly came up under Andy Reid, who came up under Mike Holmgren, who hired Sherman as an offensive assistant in both Green Bay and Seattle.

Both run the West Coast offense and Childress helping Josh Freeman bounce back from a bad 2011 would help people remember his success as OC with the Eagles again, instead of the failures in Minnesota.

LaCanfora "wouldn't be surprised" if Childress landed in Tampa as an assistant but also notes that the Browns, who are searching for an offensive coordinator with West-Coast history, are a possible landing spot for Childress as well.

Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur left the Eagles (where he succeeded Chilly as quarterbacks coach) to be offensive coordinator with the Rams before taking the head-coaching job in St. Louis, so either landing spot is absolutely a viable possibility.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:49 pm
 

Vikes GM: Christian Ponder is our starting QB

Ponder will start for the Vikings again in 2012. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Christian Ponder had a solid first year for the Vikings, but he wasn't necessarily guaranteed to remain the future for the Vikings, thanks to the success of Joe Webb late in the year, as well as the presence of talented quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft.

However, new Vikings general manager Rick Speilman said on Wednesday that Ponder is the guy going forward.

2012 NFL Draft

"He’s going to be our starting quarterback when everyone is back for OTAs," Spielman told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

That doesn't mean Ponder can't lose the starting job to Webb (or any other veteran the Vikings bring in). It simply means that Minnesota doesn't plan on drafting a quarterback (say, Robert Griffin III) in the upcoming draft.

Lest you say that's obvious, the Browns are already a current example of how a team can fail to commit to a high draft pick as soon as the season ends. On Tuesday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur wouldn't commit to having Colt McCoy as his starter going forward and/or the Browns not drafting a quarterback in April.

Obviously the two situations are different; Ponder was a much higher pick than McCoy and Minnesota's only seen one season of Ponder, whereas McCoy's played in two full seasons, albeit shortened ones because of Cleveland's depth chart and concussion injuries.

But the Vikings do have the third pick in the draft, and that means they're squarely in the wheelhouse for potentially landing RG3. (For what it's worth, Rob Rang and Dane Brugler have them taking Matt Kalil and Morris Claiborne, respectively, in our latest mock drafts.)

Now they're more likely to find themselves squarely in the wheelhouse of trading down with a team that wants the Baylor product, which, as long as Ponder pans out to their projections, is an enviable position indeed.

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 4:25 pm
 

Is Matt Flynn the next Kevin Kolb?

One way or the other, Flynn's getting paid this offseason. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

After what Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn did to the Lions Sunday -- 31 of 44 for 480 yards and a team record six touchdowns -- we joked on the Pick-6 Podcast (embedded below for your listening pleasure) that the performance would mean the Redskins would be first in line to throw a ton of dough in Flynn's general direction.


We stress "joked."

Then on Tuesday we saw this tweet from ESPN 980's Chris Russell: "Heard Matt Flynn's great performance Sunday generated a lot of buzz & positive chatter amongst the big names of the #Redskins organization."

Of course he did.

Look, Flynn had a mind-blowing afternoon against Detroit, and he also played well during a 2010 start against the Patriots. And in that sense, he's already more accomplished than Kevin Kolb was before he was anointed "the next franchise quarterback" last offseason. The Cardinals gave up a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and signed Kolb to a $63 million extension. In return they got nine starts, nine touchdowns, eight interceptions, a 57.7 completion percentage and a ton of questions.

The takeaway: don't devote a non-trivial portion of your salary cap to someone who plays the most important position on the field based on a handful of snaps. Somehow, that wasn't entirely clear to everyone.

The Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk writes that the Browns could also be interested in Flynn. Doerschuk doesn't cite a source but writes that "There is no question Mike Holmgren would rush soon-to-be-free agent Matt Flynn hard. The only question is how much the Browns president likes the [Flynn]."

Is Flynn an upgrade over Colt McCoy, who Holmgren selected in the third round of the 2010 draft? Sure. Is he so much better than McCoy that the Browns should pay him starter's money to find out? Almost certainly not.

But as CBSSports.com's Will Brinson pointed out in Monday's Sorting the Sunday Pile, Flynn made himself some coin with Sunday's effort. "That's going to translate well when he becomes an unrestricted free agent and potentially becomes the most desirable quarterback on the market. There are lots of teams that need a quarterback and Flynn will be on everyone's radar just as much as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. If someone falls in love with him, he might get Kevin Kolb money."

To paraphrase Chris Rock, we're not saying it's right … but we understand.

But if Flynn's in line for a big payday, the Packers might want to get their cut, too. Yes, Flynn's set to be an unrestricted free agent in a few months, but there's a chance Green Bay could franchise him. No, seriously.

Because there may be little time (or opportunity) to trade Flynn before the start of free agency in March, the Packers' might get the biggest return on their investment by franchising him. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein explains:
In exchange for being tagged, Flynn would receive a one-year deal worth the average of the last five franchise tag numbers at his position. Last year, the franchise number for quarterbacks was around $14 million, and it's likely to be higher this year.

So once the Packers tag Flynn, that $14 million counts against their salary cap. Flynn would automatically become the highest-paid player on the team in terms of annual salary.

NFL teams are prohibited from trading franchise players. In fact, the rules say you may not franchise a player with the intent to sign him to a contract and then trade him. However, this rule has been broken before and the NFL tends to look the other way.
Silverstein adds that the move isn't without risk for the Packers. Putting aside the illegality of a tag and trade, there's also the issue of having a $14 million backup on your roster if other teams aren't sufficiently interested in trading for him. Which means that team president Ted Thompson would have to work with Flynn's agent "behind the scenes to find a trading partner and then negotiate a deal suitable to Flynn."

Silverstein was told by a "prominent agent who has represented a franchise player" that Green Bay could be in line for a first-round pick at minimum for Flynn, and maybe a first- and third-rounder.

That sounds, well, extreme, especially since Hue Jackson already traded for Carson Palmer. Then again, Redskins owner Dan Snyder isn't afraid to mortgage the future for the possibility of success now. 

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 12:51 pm
 

Report: RG3 to enter Draft, Colts interested

RG3 says he'll decide on the draft "pretty soon." (AP)
By Will Brinson

Robert Griffin III, the second-rated quarterback on Rob Rang's big board, recently said he would make a decision about entering the NFL Draft "pretty soon." Many believed that was code for "already gone," and a report Sunday indicates that RG3 to the NFL is a done deal.

2012 NFL Draft

That's according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, who reports that Griffin's already made up his mind to take the leap to the pros and that's it's simply a matter of semantics before he's being moved around on 2012 NFL Mock Draft boards sans the little underclassman asterisk.

Mort apparently spoke to Griffin's father, Robert Junior, who told him that RG3's decision would be known "when Robert makes this official and selects the right agent to represent him."

So either RGJR (not as catchy, I know) was saying that his son is going pro or, more likely, he slipped up and was trying to say that RG3's going to make a decision and framed the part about the agent incorrectly.

Whatever, this just makes sense. RG3 won the Heisman, he's a coveted prospect, a hot name and easily the No. 2 quarterback on everyone's draft board. And, apparently, he's also highly coveted by the Colts.

Indy, it's been assumed, will just take Andrew Luck. But they could still beat the Jaguars and end up with the No. 2 pick in the draft. If that's the case, Mort reports the Colts are ready to make RG3 their quarterback of the future if they end up falling out of the top pick.

That's a nightmare scenario for the Browns, Dolphins, Redskins, and any other team who's quarterback needy, since the Rams will get to fire up a full-on bidding war for the top pick in the draft.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Draft needs

A. Luck should be a No. 1 selection in next year's draft. Who will select him, though (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

As we enter the final weekend of the season, a number of squads are just playing out the string, hoping to put a solid performance on film, ready to clean out their lockers and look ahead to next year. While only four games on this week’s schedule mean absolutely nothing in terms of the postseason, quite a few of those teams are just looking to play spoiler.

And looking to the 2012 draft, where they can begin to rebuild their team or shore up that one position that could put them over the hump for next season. That’s why we’re taking the 10-worst teams in the league this year and finding one major flaw that needs to be fixed from April 26-28 in New York City’s Radio Music Hall.

For these teams -- and their fans -- the time has come to salivate at the prospects of landing the exact right guy that could change their fortunes for years to come.

10. Bills: Defensive line -- I didn’t like the Ryan Fitzpatrick $59 million extension earlier this year, and I hate it now. But I think Buffalo has other concerns for the moment, and they come on defense. For one, Buffalo has a tough time stopping the run. First-round pick Marcell Dareus has been a bit inconsistent at the nose tackle, but he also has the ability to play like a monster. The 3-4  ends, though, need to be better. Injured tackle Kyle Williams obviously will help when he returns next season, but the ability to rush the passer once in a while also would help (Buffalo’s 25 sacks ranks 30th in the league).

9. Dolphins: Quarterback -- Look, the Dolphins have some talent. They proved that when Tony Sparano’s job was on the line, and they started winning games. They proved it by nearly beating Tom Brady, and they proved it by nearly beating Tim Tebow (that last point was a joke). While Matt Moore has been much better than expected after taking over for Chad Henne, he’s a Band-Aid. I think most of us would agree that Henne isn’t the answer as the starter, and perhaps, he and Moore could have a battle to see who could back-up a legit starting quarterback. Reggie Bush established himself as a 1,000-yard rusher, and with a talented quarterback like Robert Griffin III (if he lasts that long in the draft), the Dolphins could begin pushing for AFC East crowns.

8. Browns: Pass rushers -- Cleveland got two defensive linemen early last year (tackle Phil Taylor in the first round and end Jabaal Sheard in the second), and they’ve done a nice job on the left side of the defensive line. But the defense ranks 25th in the league in sacks, and defensive end Jayme Mitchell hasn’t had a great season. Marcus Benard, coming off a solid rookie season last year, is on IR, and if the Browns could get one more high-end rusher in the draft, they’d have talent and depth.

7. Redskins: Quarterback -- It’s probably time for Mike Shanahan to come to the realization that his quarterback picks the past two years have been disastrous (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck). He said the other day that the rebuild of this franchise has taken more time than he thought, but a standout quarterback obviously would help that process along. Shanahan also said that there was no question in his mind that he’d be back next season, but unless he finds a way to invigorate his offense, that might be a different story this time next year.

6. Chiefs: Right tackle -- Looking across Kansas City’s depth chart, there’s not one position group that so obviously needs to be overhauled. The Chiefs have talent, even if some of those positions don’t have much depth. But right tackle Barry Richardson has badly struggled this season. According Pro Football Focus, Richardson is the worst-rated offensive tackle in the league (the decision to cut Jared Gaither near the end of the season was a bad one). Left tackle Branden Albert is solid, but the right side of the line needs to be reworked.

Minnesota's secondary has been a big concern this year (US Presswire).5. Buccaneers: Run defenders -- The Buccaneers tried to shore up their defensive end spots last draft, taking Adrian Clayborn in the first round and Da’Quan Bowers in the second round. Considering Tampa Bay ranks dead last in sacks, the experiment hasn’t paid off immediate dividends. But the Buccaneers are also terrible against the run, and even though tackle Albert Haynesworth has played better than most of us had a right to expect, there are still huge holes to fill in the lineup.

4. Vikings: Secondary -- The Vikings rank as the 31st-worst defense in the NFL, but in reality, their front seven has talent (for instance, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Chad Greenway). Minnesota lost Antoine Winfield (its best corner) early in the year, Chris Cook has legal troubles, safety Jamarca  Sanford has struggled badly and the rest of the safeties have been ravaged by injuries. It’s no  wonder opposing quarterbacks dominate the Vikings defensive backs. On the season, Minnesota has recorded seven interceptions, worst in the NFL. The Vikings need to find somebody who can force turnovers in order to improve this unit.

3. Jaguars: Receivers – Oh, how they need receivers. Yes, Blaine Gabbert has been, by far, the worst rookie quarterback to play this year, but Jacksonville, even with new ownership and a new coach, probably needs to give him more than a season to see if he’s a quarterback of the future. He also needs somebody who can catch his passes. Here are Jacksonville’s top-three receivers: Mike Thomas, Jarret Dillard, and yeah, nobody else. In fact, there’s a good chance running back Maurice Jones-Drew will end up as the team’s leading pass-catcher this season. Hard to blame Gabbert completely when his receiving corps is so bad.

2. Colts: Running backs -- Assuming Peyton Manning returns healthy next season -- admittedly, a huge assumption -- his receivers should continue to be fine (this, of course, depends on what happens with free agents Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon). But we’ve seen this year that without a running game, a Manning-less Colts squad has very little chance of doing anything (mostly because Manning makes up for SO many team deficiencies). Joseph Addai, who’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry and probably won’t get to 500 rushing yards on the season for the second year in a row, might be released into free agency, and Donald Brown, while improved, isn’t a legit No. 1 running back. The Colts obviously have a big decision to make regarding Manning and Andrew Luck, but taking a running back probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

1.Rams: Offensive linemen -- There’s been talk that maybe the Rams should grab Luck if they end up with the No. 1 pick. Which, with Sam Bradford on the team, would be ludicrous. Instead, St. Louis should be focused on how to put together an offensive line that doesn’t lead the league in sacks allowed. The biggest problem, not including injuries to Jason Smith and Jacob Bell that have hurt the unit, has been the line’s interior. Linemen aren’t the sexiest position, but damn, St. Louis needs to find some that can stay healthy and keep Bradford and Steven Jackson out of danger.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 12:05 pm
 

Peyton Hillis believes in Madden Curse after 2011

By Will Brinson

You think Peyton Hillis wants to forget all about 2011? Probably so; Hillis went from a surprise running back in 2010 to a potential franchise player before 2011 to an in-season distraction to an absolute afterthought for the Browns at times.

And, as is completely understandable, he's willing to blame these problems on appearing on the cover of Madden 12.

"No doubt about it," Hillis said Thursday when asked if the Madden Curse was real, per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "Things haven't worked to my favor this year. There's a few things that happened that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about it."

Hillis entered 2011 looking to nail down a new contract with Cleveland, a team and city that his blue-collar attitude seemed to encapsulate. Instead, he struggled from the start with low production and injuries and the Browns never made any overtures.

It appears now, as our Browns Rapid Reporter Marty Gitlin notes, that Hillis is headed to free agency, as the running back hasn't heard anything about possible contract negotiations.


"If there has been, I don't know know of any," Hillis said.

Per Gitlin, Hillis is interested in returning to the Browns in 2012, but depending on how he plays down the stretch that may be a difficult proposition. The Browns obviously won't franchise tag him and if Hillis finishes strong down the stretch, he may want more money than the Browns are willing to pay.

And Hillis knows how important Week 17's game against Pittsburgh is for potential suitors in free agency.

"I want people to see that I'm not a one-hit wonder and that I can always play well," Hillis said when asked about Sunday's game against the Steelers.

If Hillis wants to do that, he should probably also avoid landing on any Madden covers in the future. Although that probably won't be a problem any time soon.

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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