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Can Savage Avoid First-Round Holdouts?

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Will Phil Savage and company be able to get quarterback Brady Quinn under contract before training camp starts? Before he answers that question though, he may want to hammer out a deal with offensive lineman Joe Thomas first, which could pose some problems. This is obviously a first for the Browns since their return to the league - having two first-round picks in one draft. On top of that, one of those picks (Quinn) were selected at pick No. 22, but may require the value of a No. 5 pick. The past three No. 3 picks have been QB Vince Young, WR Braylon Edwards, and WR Larry Fitzgerald. Of the three, Young received the best deal due to having more money guaranteed, while Edwards was the biggest bargain.

Fitzgerald: Six years, $60 million, $20.4 million guaranteed.
Edwards: Five years, $40 million, $20 million guaranteed.
Young: Six years, $58 million, $25.9 million guaranteed.
Credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer
To complicate things even further, those three players' positions do not necessarily compare to the figures that an offensive lineman may require. While Savage may believe that a salary towards the lower end should be required, it's unlikely that Thomas' agent, Peter Schaffer, will see things the same way (For the record, Schaffer also represents CB Eric Wright). The fact that the Browns signed offensive guard Eric Steinbach to a lucrative deal in the offseason will likely play to Schaffer's advantage as well. Then, what if Quinn's agent, Tom Condon, requires a deal similar to what Young received last year? There's no way the Browns would comply with that request, which would lead to back and forth banter.
"It's not a pretty picture in terms of trying to negotiate an offensive lineman versus a quarterback and two top-echelon receivers who were thought by many to be the top players in their draft," said Savage. "As much of a great advantage it was to win the coin toss, we were also well aware of the contract situation at that spot."
Fortunately, the team is no where near the point in which they would start hitting the panic button. There is still about a month to go until training camp begins, which should be plenty of time to negotiate. On the same note though, we do not want to see a player miss out on playing time again due to a holdout, as were the cases with receivers Travis Wilson and Braylon Edwards. If a guy like Thomas does hold out though, the Browns will not hesitate to slip offensive tackle Kevin Shaffer back into the starting lineup on opening day.

Now, some various notes including player positions and new stadium regulations:

  1. Two-Man QB Race: Savage stated that the team should know by the end of the first preseason game who the top two quarterbacks will be. Then, for the following several weeks, one person will come through as the team's starter. Savage stated that Charlie Frye definitely has an edge due to experience, and he also understands that he is not necessarily a solid practice quarterback. Meanwhile, Derek Anderson's arm strength was impressive, while Quinn remains the wildcard.
  2. Bentley Update: Look for more updates regarding center LeCharles Bentley around the beginning of July.
  3. Baxter Update: Savage is optimistic about Baxter, but not as optimistic as Baxter was. Savage stated that he wouldn't be surprised if the veteran cornerback began the season on the physically unable to perform list, and then returned as a nickel back or a safety.
  4. Family Zone: Cleveland Browns Stadium will now have a new section called "The Family Zone", located in sections 542 and 543. These sections will be alcohol-free, and will feature mascots and kids' meals. Tickets for this zone will be $32.
  5. Smoke Free: The stadium is now a smoke-free facility.
On a final note, the Browns acquired wide receiver Efrem Hill from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers off waivers. Hill has spent the past two seasons mainly on the practice squads of the Carolina Panthers and the Buccaneers. In the process of this move, the Browns waived safety Ben Emanuel.