UPDATE: DAY 2 OF OUR BROWNS FREE AGENCY BLOG CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Free agency officially begins for the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the teams in the NFL at 4:00 PM ET. We've been busy the past few days listening to rumors about which players the Browns might be interested in. According to one NFL reporter, the Browns, who have the most cap space out of all of the teams in the league, have been very busy thus far:
Here in Cleveland, where Browns have $47 million in cap space and where one agent just texted me, "(GM) Mike Lombardi is busy!" #freeagency— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 12, 2013
Hopefully that is a good omen for the rest of the day! We will have all of the Browns-related coverage on free agency here at Dawgs By Nature throughout the day. We will have individual posts about each free agent signing that Cleveland makes, or any other relevant news. This thread will act as a "live blog" of sorts, with short one-liners about the latest small rumors, signings, or trades involving Cleveland or other NFL teams. You should also use the comments section as your free agency open thread! (Newest updates will be at the top of the live blog below)
Browns Free Agency Live Blog
(Note: the stuff below was from Tuesday. Click here for Wednesday's live blog and open thread)
10:24 PM: It sounds like Joshua Cribbs could be gone, per his agent on Twitter. Not sure to which team yet. Also, this might be the final update in my live blog for the night. Thanks to everyone who tuned in. A little bit later, Dawgs By Nature's Zach Miller will have a front page post up with a couple of players he is interested in who are still available. When that goes up, that will be the new night-time open thread regarding free agency.
Thanks #DBN readers for setting new record in site's history. 67,000+ page views (and counting) today. Previous high 50,845 ('12 Draft)— Dawgs By Nature (@DawgsByNature) March 13, 2013
9:58 PM: Brandon Leister from DraftBrowns.com has a quick post analyzing the type of player that Bryant can be for Cleveland.
9:54 PM: This is an obligatory update. Not much else has happened since the last updates, but I did update the Desmond Bryant post with a GIF from SB Nation.
9:26 PM: Lost amidst the signing of Bryant is the report that the Cleveland Browns missed out on the biggest free agent out there:
Derek Anderson rumors over. He is going back to Panthers my source tells me.— Mike Cairns (@MikeCairns5) March 13, 2013
9:21 PM: People have given Mary Kay Cabot some flak, but she deserves some credit. Last week, she listed four players her sources told her the Browns were going after: DE Cliff Avril, OLB Paul Kruger, DT Desmond Bryant, and OLB Quentin Groves. Kruger and Bryant have signed. Groves is coming for a visit. Avril was probably just a fallback plan if we didn't get Kruger. +1, Mary Kay.
9:18 PM: Bang! Glad I didn't pack it in for the night. The Browns signed DT Desmond Bryant to a deal, reportedly 5 years worth $34 million. Our full story is here. Hopefully Ray Horton stays more than one year with the investments we're making on defense.
8:28 PM: The Browns officially announced the signing of Paul Kruger on the team site. Kruger will have a news conference some time on Wednesday with the local media.
“Paul is the type of player we were looking to bring on at the outset of free agency, and we are thrilled that we were able to sign him,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “Not only do we feel strongly about his ability as a football player, but he will add a great deal from a leadership standpoint as well. He has exhibited marked improvement each year of his career and we believe he can help the Cleveland Browns for many years to come.”
8:03 PM: The Packers are bringing former Browns RB Peyton Hillis in for a visit. Also, the Raiders released a couple of players, including former first-round pick Darius Heyward-Bey. The Eagles signed H-Back/tight end/fullback/wide receiver James Casey of the Texans, thinning the field at tight end even further for Cleveland.
7:20 PM: One thing to ponder: by not spending on TE Jared Cook, that could open the door for Cleveland considering more of a possession receiver like Wes Welker. They would still need a tight end, but there would be more money to go around.
7:15 PM: According to Britton, the Browns haven't been pushing for the Steelers' Keenan Lewis very much. Another report says that CB Sean Smith isn't in Cleveland's sights either:
Cornerback is a priority, but only in the sense that we don't have a starter and don't want to waste a draft pick on one. In terms of urgency, there doesn't have to be an impulse signing. There are plenty of talented, starter-worthy cornerbacks remaining. Heck, bringing Sheldon Brown back still sounds fine, and I can't imagine he's getting a ton of calls. Browns' interest was last reported to be with the Panthers' Captain Munnerlyn still.
7:04 PM: Now, for a fun little story, check out the "heated" history between Paul Kruger and Joe Thomas.
6:40 PM: The Rams have agreed to terms with TE Jared Cook, per reports. Bummer. The tight ends still available include Jets' Dustin Keller, Texans' James Casey, Redskins' Fred Davis, Raiders' Brandon Myers, Chiefs' Kevin Boss, and...the Browns' Benjamin Watson. I'll be very interested to see how big Cook's contract ends up being.
6:37 PM: Remember what I said earlier about there being silence? It is continuing. We're still on pins and needles in case something does break, though!
6:12 PM: Just for comedic purposes, I would love to see how Cleveland fans overreact if after Kruger, the only other move they make ends up being "signing Derek Anderson." The rumors surrounding Anderson and Cleveland are still out there.
6:10 PM: All finished with supper now, and ready to get back to work. It doesn't look like much happened while I was gone, so I picked a good time. Free agency rumors are starting to taper off as big players go off the market. There is still plenty of things to happen, but the news will probably be more "sudden" like the Ellerbe signing in Miami.
5:50 PM: So, what did I miss? Well, the Dolphins signed ILB Dannell Ellerbe, a move that came out of nowhere. The Dolphins are big players early on in free agency, having already added WR Mike Wallace. The Ravens aren't faring too well, as expected. They've lost Ellerbe, Kruger, and Boldin, three key contributors, and can't afford to sign many big players. Now, onto that dinner that I'm supposed to be feasting on...
5:40 PM: Darn it, I knew I should have eaten a bigger meal earlier! About to catch some quick dinner, but check the comments section for the latest. I will be at my computer eating, just might be a little slow to react for the next couple of minutes (cue a big signing for Cleveland, right?).
5:30 PM: The Indianapolis Colts have signed Cardinals CB Greg Toler, a guy the Browns were reportedly quite interested in either for depth or as a starter opposite Joe Haden. There are still plenty of cornerbacks out there, but Cleveland needs to sign one of them. No word on if anyone is interested in Sheldon Brown yet or not.
5:17 PM: It sounds like the Rams are now hot on the pursuit of TE Jared Cook and might be close to getting him. It would actually make sense, given the connection to Jeff Fisher. Big incentive factor for Cook, he wants to be with someone who will utilize him.
5:07 PM: You can rule out the Browns possibly getting Chase Daniel as a backup quarterback. Schefter reports that he has signed a three-year deal. Also, the Browns and Dolphins appear neck-and-neck in the race for Jared Cook, per reports.
5:02 PM: FOXSports.com has another update on a possible landing spot for Joshua Cribbs. My guess is Cleveland hasn't even contacted him:
4:58 PM: Sounds like $20 million guaranteed for Kruger in a 5-year, $41 million deal. We'll do a full breakdown when all the details are available regarding the structure of the deal. Unfortunately, it sounds like the Broncos signed OG Louis Vasquez for pretty cheap -- a 4-year deal worth around $23.5 million, per NFL.com. I wanted Vasquez to bolster the Browns' offensive line.
4:41 PM: Adam Schefter reports that the Browns have signed OLB Paul Kruger to a deal. The story and possible contract numbers are here. Also, reports on Twitter say that Browns LB Kaluka Maiava has a visit scheduled with the Raiders...where careers go to die.
4:36 PM: More and more people saying it is inevitable that Kruger will sign with Browns soon. When it's confirmed, our post on DBN will be ready. Also, the Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick. He'll still count as $10 million against the Bills cap over the next two years.
4:24 PM: A lot of reporters are saying Ravens OLB Paul Kruger will be signing with Cleveland. Someone floated the numbers of $8 - $9 million per year, which would be the type of price I feared.
4:11 PM: Ian Rapoport says the Browns are bringing Cardinals LB Quentin Groves in for a visit. Here is our quick story on it.
4:00 PM: And we're off! Mary Kay Cabot with an update on the front runner for Joshua Cribbs:
3:50 PM: And the official update from Browns GM Michael Lombardi?
Browns GM Mike Lombardi smiled a lot when he came down to say hello. Said nice to have lots of $, but also have to be smart w/ how its spent— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 12, 2013
3:44 PM: It's 3:44 PM, free agency is about to start, and the Steelers still suck.
3:35 PM: Britton it at it again, this time saying that while the Browns once had interest in trading for Patriots QB Ryan Mallett, the new CBA will likely keep him in New England. I didn't want him anyway. Getting a backup -- even a Derek Anderson -- seems like a better short-term option. Let Brandon Weeden continue to start.
3:18 PM: So long, Benjamin Watson.
Ben Watson said goodbye this am to Browns fans. He left behind some autographed balls twitter.com/AKinkhabwala/s…— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 12, 2013
3:08 PM: Less than one hour to go: start your engines.
2:47 PM: I saw the first use of the word "smokescreen" today, used by PFT to describe the Ed Reed-to-49ers rumor. Probably one of many smokescreens we'll hear today. How many have already been heard about the Browns? Probably a dozen, given the amount of names thrown out there.
2:40 PM: ESPN Cleveland continues to report on the Browns' interest in tight ends:
In addition to Jared Cook, #Browns are one of teams still interested in Raiders TE Brandon Myers...could be backup plan.— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) March 12, 2013
Everyone here knows I will love it if we sign Cook. If we have to settle for Myers, though, he's still a nice receiving option. Had 79 catches for 806 yards last year in Oakland, although a lot of that seemed to come in garbage time. That included a 14-catch, 130-yard, 1-touchdown performance against Cleveland.
2:36 PM: The Vikings have released CB Antoine Winfield, adding another cornerback to the market. He will be 35 next year, but had a solid outing last year. He is an Akron native and went to Ohio State, so he might have an interest in Cleveland.
2:00 PM: Just two hours away from the official start of free agency! If you haven't yet, bookmark this page or follow us on Twitter!
1:57 PM: The Steelers could be making a push to retain CB Keenan Lewis. They cut OL Willie Colon and restructured LB LaMarr Woodley's contract, saving a total of about $9.5 million in cap space. The team is also bringing WR Plaxico Burress back on a one-year deal.
1:36 PM: The Texans released WR Kevin Walter. He kind of fits the mold of a possession receiver and could come cheap.
1:35 PM: We finally have some news on another team's interest in a Browns free agent besides Joshua Cribbs. The Jets are reportedly interested in WR Mohamed Massaquoi:
In addition to WR Brandon Gibson, #Jets have interest in Browns WR Mohammed Massaquoi, I'm told. Could wait out initial wave of free agency.— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) March 12, 2013
1:31 PM: The Falcons' Tony Gonzalez is returning to football in 2013. Very good to hear.
1:06 PM: Keith Britton from ESPN Cleveland mentions that the Browns still have an interest in CB Keenan Lewis, but that the talks with Cleveland haven't been serious yet. Earlier in the day, Britton also mentioned the Browns could have a good interest in bringing Panthers CB Captain Munnerlyn here.
1:00 PM: Not much going on at the moment, but we're still here, live and ready-to-go in case anything breaks. Remember, the big time to remember is 4:00 PM ET, which is when teams won't get in trouble for leaking anything.
12:15 PM: I approve of this tweet:
12:04 PM: We are officially past noon, and Josh Finney has the latest on the "buzz" surrounding LB James Harrison possibly coming to Cleveland. If there is one free agent on my "do not sign" radar, it is Harrison. I don't care for his past, and his play also went south in 2012 along with the rest of the Steelers.
11:49 AM: Regarding some around-the-league news, as most of you know, WR Anquan Boldin will be going to the 49ers for a 6th round draft pick. Also, rumors are heavy this morning that the 49ers might also sign S Ed Reed. The 49ers released K David Akers a couple of days ago, and I expect them to make a play for the Browns' Phil Dawson with special teams coordinator Brad Seely, formerly of the Browns, on their staff. Who wants to face the 49ers or Seahawks (who got WR Percy Harvin via a trade) in 2013? Both teams have a lot of draft picks to continue improving too.
11:38 AM: Earlier today, Fred Greetham of The OBR passed along the information that the Browns aren't expected to pursue an offensive guard like Louis Vasquez right off the bat, and will instead opt to go hard at the defensive end/linebacker position. Based on the number of cornerbacks they have showed interest in, you'd have to think they'll target one of them early too.
11:32 AM: Wow, this is an incredible story.
11:13 AM: Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com says that the hottest name he keeps hearing around the league is TE Jared Cook. A lot of teams are interested in him, including the Browns, as we reported yesterday. A few minutes ago, ESPN Cleveland's Keith Britton said that the Browns are "also staying hard on the trail of Titans TE Jared Cook." Make it happen, Lombardi.
11:05 AM: The big rumor to start off this morning is that the Browns are closing in on OLB Paul Kruger. If we sign the guy, I will get fully behind him, of course. I'm not trying to doubt his talent. For the number of players who have left Baltimore and not succeeded, though, and the big contract that he is scheduled to command, I just felt he was more of a risk than other players. Maybe the risk would pay off...