Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner talked with the local members of the media for about 25 minutes at the NFL's Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona Monday afternoon. The last time that the media had an informal meeting with Banner came during last month's NFL Combine.
Members of the local media, such as ESPN Cleveland's Tony Grossi, were getting agitated on Twitter earlier in the day on Monday due to the lack of access to general manager Michael Lombardi. We've been told by Banner before that Lombardi will speak when the right event calls for it, but he really opened up about the logic behind shielding Lombardi from the media today.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer had a lot of relevant quotes from Banner in relation to his comments about Lombardi. In the quote below, it sounds like he will be the "spokesman" for the decisions that Lombardi and the team make:
Banner stressed that Lombardi is focused on building the roster and that Banner will be the spokesman for now on personnel decisions. "I can speak to these issues,'' he said. "We're working hand in hand and there will be a time when he's visible and speaking, but I think at the moment, it's at least in our best interests to have him focused on what he's doing and demonstrate collectively the kinds of things we're going to do and let that gradually take care of itself.''
Banner said that he will take accountability for anything that goes wrong -- the ultimate blame, if needed, should lay with him.
In another article published by Cabot (which contained other news and nuggets discussed by Banner), he continued to remain cryptic when asked about kicker Phil Dawson:
He said once Phil Dawson signs somewhere -- whether with the Browns or elsewhere -- it will make sense why Banner was reluctant to address Dawson's situation.
Does anyone feel up to solving the riddle? Here is one topic that Lombardi wasn't very cryptic about: signing veteran players who would be considered short-term solutions:
#Browns CEO Joe Banner emphasized he's not interested in short-term fixes in free agency. So forget anybody 30 or older. Brent Grimes at 29.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) March 18, 2013
That could explain the team's apparent lack of interest in retaining TE Benjamin Watson, WR Joshua Cribbs, CB Sheldon Brown, or K Phil Dawson. Lombardi also said that they would be very reluctant in trading 2013 draft picks, that they had an interest in some second-round-tendered players but did not have a second-round pick to make them an offer (Emmanuel Sanders?), and are simply doing their "due-diligence" in conducting a private workout with QB Geno Smith.