The first day of free agency got off to a bang on Tuesday, as the Cleveland Browns signed outside linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant to sizable contracts in an effort to bolster their front seven. Our live blog covered it all with over 866+ comments throughout the day.
Today, we're returning for another live blog, covering 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
11:30 PM: That should be it for tonight's blog. I don't think we'll have a live blog for Thursday, because of the effort it requires vs. the lesser buzz about free agency when Thursday approaches. But, we'll still be busy on the site when it comes to being on top of the latest signings and rumors, and we'll have another open thread for everybody. Good night!
11:27 PM: There has been a lot of speculation regarding Joshua Cribbs tonight. He tweeted a goodbye to Cleveland of sorts, and then Mary Kay Cabot said that it was basically a done deal that he'd be going to Arizona. Then, Jason La Canfora tweeted the following:
Contrary to reports, Josh Cribbs not only doesn't have a deal with the Cards, I'm told it's not even close. He is still playing the field...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 14, 2013
Cribbs' agent also tweeted that no deal has been done yet. Cribbs' negotiations are always whacky, aren't they? Still, my guess is that Cribbs' goodbye stemmed from Cleveland directly telling him that they aren't pursuing him anymore.
8:14 PM: Just to catch up on a couple of big signings around the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks reportedly nabbed DE Cliff Avril, while the Patriots have found their replacement for Wes Welker in Danny Amendola. The transcript for Paul Kruger's presser earlier is up, if you're looking for some reading material.
6:41 PM: Yay, Browns finally confirmed that the Jordan Norwood and Christian Yount were indeed the two tendered players. The local media said that the information was not released by the team up until now, which is true. However, the league published a list of the 524 free agents on Tuesday, and broke down by category which players were not tendered. That list included ERFA Emmanuel Stephens, ERFA Auston English, RFA Eddie Williams, and RFA Chris Ogbonnaya. Because they weren't listed, someone besides me should have deduced that Norwood and Yount had received tenders, right?
6:00 PM: Browns LB James-Michael Johnson reacts to the news of Kaluka Maiava departing:
Sad to hear my boy kaluk left one of the coolest vets we had last season helped the young players out alot— James Johnson (@50JMJ) March 13, 2013
5:56 PM: FOX 8's John Telich confirmed that WR Jordan Norwood signed his tender. I still haven't heard anything more on Yount, but I feel pretty confident in the NFL's list from yesterday, so I went ahead and published a post about Ogbonnaya, Norwood, and Yount. Also, S Ed Reed is reportedly headed to Houston for a visit.
5:32 PM: LB Kaluka Maiava wins the award for the first Browns player to sign with another team. He'll probably just narrowly beat Joshua Cribbs, who is expected to sign with Arizona.
Former Browns LB Kaluka Maiava signed with the Raiders: 3 years, $ 6 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
5:24 PM: Go on, Belichick: cut him now!
Spoke to someone close to Tom Brady. Beyond enraged at contract details that netted Broncos Wes Welker. "Disgrace""disservice" were used.— Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) March 13, 2013
5:14 PM: It sounds like the Joshua Cribbs era is about to be officially over:
Also looking like Josh Cribbs will be signing with Cardinals as well. Story coming ASAP, too.— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) March 13, 2013
5:05 PM: The Arizona Cardinals are about to release safety Kerry Rhodes. It's relevant because it's another Ray Horton connection:
Kerry Rhodes is being released. Veteran purges continue— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 13, 2013
5:03 PM: Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer tweeted that the Browns have re-signed RB Chris Ogbonnaya to a two-year deal. I have my article about it ready to go, but am waiting for confirmation that the two tendered players are Norwood and Yount.
4:56 PM: Well, Wes Welker is officially a member of the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning will love him.
4:30 PM: The Dolphins are reportedly giving TE Dustin Keller a physical and negotiating terms with him.
4:16 PM: Thank god the Browns aren't the ones signing RB Shonn Greene.
4:10 PM: Still waiting for the official word from the Browns on which players were tendered and who was re-signed. The Charlotte Observer had an interesting follow-up tweet about why Panthers TE Gary Branridge chose Cleveland over Carolina, though:
Agent for new Browns TE Gary Barnidge said #Panthers made an offer. But Browns offered more money and a chance for Barny to be the guy @ TE.— Joe Person (@josephperson) March 13, 2013
2:55 PM: Banner said that after the presser, we'd get news on two players they tendered. I hope my prediction about Jordan Norwood and Christian Yount from earlier comes true, just for the sense that I think I'd be the first person to have mentioned it in the local media. (Shameless plug).
Also, Banner would not comment about the teams intentions on K Phil Dawson. Banner also said the Browns will keep six defensive linemen. Logically, five of those guys would be Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant, Billy Winn, and John Hughes. The sixth could be Ish'maaily Kitchen. Sounds good.
2:46 PM: Not that it was a secret, but Rob Chudzinski mentioned that Jabaal Sheard would be an OLB in the Browns' base defense. Also, Peyton Manning might have a new weapon in Denver...
Filed to ESPN: Broncos in serious talks, trying to hammer out an agreement with Patriots WR Wes Welker. Decision expected today.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
2:41 PM: NFL.com says that TE Gary Branridge is in China at the moment, but will be in Cleveland tomorrow to sign a three-year deal:
New Browns TE Gary Branridge is in China helping w NFL camps. Flies home tonight, to Cleveland tomorrow to sign 3-year deal.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 13, 2013
2:40 PM: The presser for Paul Kruger in Berea is taking place. Nothing significant is really being said, as expected. Some members of the media are tweeting surprises that Mike Lombardi is not present versus Joe Banner (Rob Chudzinski is also there). I'm fine if Lombardi is still busy reaching out to free agents.
2:18 PM: Hey look, white smoke. Now, back to free agency.
2:10 PM: Remember, the Paul Kruger presser is coming up at 2:30 PM ET. The Browns PR department showed a photo of his jersey, and it looks like he'll wear No. 99, which is what Scott Fujita wore last season. Fujita is a free agent.
1:50 PM: Arizona running backs haven't been good, and now they signed the slumping Rashard Mendenhall, formerly of Pittsburgh, to a one-year deal. CB Keenan Lewis is reportedly visiting New Orleans. Once one big cornerback gets signed, I expect a bunch more to follow around the NFL.
1:35 PM: Per the NFL from a few days ago, the Browns opted not to sign tenders for RB Chris Ogbonnaya, FB Eddie Williams, DL Auston English, and DE Emmanuel Stephens. No where on the list from the NFL was WR Jordan Norwood or LS Christian Yount listed, so there is a chance that each of them were retained for the minimum tenders. The Browns have not confirmed this yet.
1:10 PM: For those who missed it yesterday, here is an update on Browns' crop of free agents: LB Kaluka Maiava was visiting Oakland, the Jets had an interest in WR Mohamed Massaquoi, and WR Joshua Cribbs appears to be headed to New England or Arizona. No word about Phil Dawson from anyone yet, but he's the type of player who can wait things out rather than make an impulse decision. Nobody else has really been mentioned elsewhere.
12:45 PM: According to the ABJ, Paul Kruger's opening press conference is coming up at 2:30 PM ET. Don't expect anything ground-breaking to be announced or anything, but tune in if you're starved for Browns news.
Paul Kruger's news conference is set for 2:30 p.m. today. Rob Chudzinski and Joe Banner also slated for appearances. #Browns— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) March 13, 2013
12:22 PM: The Browns officially confirmed the signing of OLB Quentin Groves:
"Quentin is a solid player who will be another good addition to our front seven," said Browns coach Rob Chudzinski. "He showed pass rush ability last season, working in a 3-4 defense for the first time. Having played for Ray last year, he is familiar with our scheme, and that will allow him to make a smooth transition. He also has been a productive special teams player and can help us in that area as well."
"Quentin gives us another player who will come in and improve our defense," said Browns CEO Joe Banner. "Not only will he help us on the defensive side of the ball, but he also will be a good addition for our special teams, where he has had success in his career. We are excited about the moves we have been able to make over the last two days and look forward to all three players becoming productive members of the Cleveland Browns."
12:15 PM: We are officially past noon, and Spotrac has some news on the structure of Paul Kruger's contract. The full details aren't available yet, but enough information is there to get an idea of what Joe Banner did:
The deal is worth $40.5 million over 5 years, maximum. He gets $19.95 million guaranteed. The guaranteed money is composed of four components:
- $6 million signing bonus ($1.2 million against cap in each of next 5 years).
- $6.25 roster bonus due in 2013.
- $700,000 base salary in 2013 is guaranteed.
- $7 million base salary in 2014 is guaranteed.
That means Kruger's base salary over the final three years of his deal will total the remaining $20.55, since 2013 and 2014 are fully guaranteed. Basically, it means that Cleveland will definitely keep Kruger for the next two years. Banner structured it in a way where Kruger gets a lot of his money over the first two years, which helps create more cap space for the team in later years. If Kruger ends up being a massive disappointment, the Browns can cut him before the 2015 season.
11:47 AM: The signing hasn't been confirmed yet, but I went ahead and published some background information on "expected-to-be-signed" tight end Gary Barnidge anyway.
11:12 AM: New OLB Quentin Groves is already pandering to Browns fans. I like it.
11:04 AM: Our story on Barnidge is now ready-to-go, but I'm still awaiting for another media outlet to confirm it. In the mean time, the Browns officially announced the signing of DT Desmond Bryant:
"Desmond is a player who possesses very good size and athleticism, attributes which make him very difficult to block," said Browns coach Rob Chudzinski. "When you watch him play, he is always around the quarterback, and will provide a boost to our pass rush. He is a solid run defender and can play multiple positions along the line, which will allow him to be a part of both our base and sub-packages."
"With the additions of Paul and Desmond, we believe that we have significantly improved our defense overall, particularly our front seven," said Browns CEO Joe Banner. "This was one of our goals entering free agency, and we are thrilled that we were able to accomplish that. Like Paul, Desmond gives us someone with great size and athleticism for his position, and an ability to rush the passer, the key to any successful defense."
10:40 AM: According to a Panthers beat writer, the Browns are expected to sign a backup tight end:
I'd fully expect Cleveland to pursue a receiving tight end, given this. With Benjamin Watson and Alex Smith being free agents, the Browns need a couple of tight ends to fill their roster. When the signing is more official, we'll have a story up on Barnidge.
10:36 AM: Per Adam Schefter, the Steelers just made their first big signing: stealing QB Bruce Gradkowski away from the Bengals on a three-year deal. The nerve!
10:35 AM: I am laughing thinking back to Joe Flacco's contract, which I broke down in depth here. Yes, Flacco's cap hit is only $6.8 million in 2013, but it gets much larger over the final five years of his contract. After Flacco signed his contract, he said, "Hopefully it works out very good for the organization and we can keep as many people as we need." Well, they've already lost WR Anquan Boldin, OLB Paul Kruger, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, ILB Ray Lewis, and S Bernard Pollard. They are likely to lose S Ed Reed, and CB Cary Williams is testing the market as well. Let this be the fall of the Ravens and the rise of the Browns, please.
10:30 AM: The Ravens aren't going to have anyone left on defense. Safety Bernard Pollard is tweeting that he's been released. Intriguing option for Cleveland?
10:10 AM: Other than the Groves signing, it's been pretty quiet in the NFL in general this morning. Regarding tight ends, Fred Greetham of The OBR again mentioned that Cleveland is "in the hunt" for either Fred Davis, Dustin Keller, or Brandon Myers at tight end. Keller has been the least discussed of the bunch. Not that Keller is bad or anything, but between the three, I prefer Davis or Myers.
Lane Adkins of The OBR, a pretty reliable source, tweeted earlier that we should expect action at cornerback and tight end for Cleveland today. Again, logically, that makes sense, but when it comes from him, it seems even more likely to happen.
9:48 AM: Reminder: later today, OLB Paul Kruger will arrive in Cleveland to hold his introductory press conference. He is also expected to be a guest on Bull & Fox on 92.3 The Fan during the afternoon hours.
9:47 AM: I wonder if this is source or speculation, because Sam Bradford has not exactly "lit it up" during his three years in the NFL:
For TE Jared Cook, QB was a huge factor in signing w/ Rams. #Browns uncertain QB situation is a factor for some offensive FAs.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 13, 2013
9:45 AM: Most of the local reporters in Cleveland seem to feel strongly that the Browns' next target will be a cornerback. That, or a tight end, would make a lot of sense. Here is a new name that ESPN Cleveland's Keith Britton threw into the mix this morning:
Was told #Browns still also have interest in Cary Williams at CB, too. One of many, many teams interested in the 28-yr-old— Keith Britton (@KeithBritton86) March 13, 2013
Could the Ravens be getting even thinner? Britton also notes that the Browns have not shown interest in Steelers LB James Harrison. Good.
9:40 AM: Pfft, OLD NEWS, PFT...
Paul Kruger, Joe Thomas, and an alleged "flop" wp.me/p14QSB-7Cs1— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 13, 2013
9:34 AM: I made a big fuss the past week and yesterday about wanting the Browns to get tight end Jared Cook. His contract numbers are in for the deal he signed with the Rams: 5 years, $35.1 million, with $19 million guaranteed. That's pretty similar to the other two contracts Cleveland handed out. They could give those contracts to two players this offseason, but three might have been a stretch. At that point, you have to add some depth. My projection for Cook's contract had been 5 years, $28 million.
9:28 AM: Let me catch up on the rumor mill from Twitter this morning. First, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is drumming up the Fred Davis-to-Cleveland rumors:
Browns could still make more deals today. Have some interest in Redskins TE Fred Davis— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 13, 2013
Before free agency, Davis acknowledged in an interview with a local radio station that he'd like to play for Cleveland. He was born in Toledo, OH, so he has some ties to the area.
9:24 AM: If you missed it, Zach Miller of Dawgs By Nature wrote an article late last night about four free agents who the Browns should target heading into Day 2. The Browns' positions of need in free agency include tight end, cornerback, and offensive guard, and Miller had all three areas covered with players who wouldn't break the bank. Be sure to check it out.
9:10 AM: Good morning everyone! Updates may not be as frequent today as they were on Tuesday, but that didn't prevent the Browns from getting off to a bang this morning. After bringing LB Quentin Groves in for a visit on Tuesday, he agreed to terms with Cleveland on Wednesday. It is a 2-year deal worth $2.8 million, which is great value. Our story on Groves re-uniting with Ray Horton can be found here.