Yesterday Cleveland Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi spent nearly an hour speaking at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club. As you can imagine, Lombardi dropped a few things of note, and you can read about the entire appearance here and here. We'll discuss the entire appearance, but there were a couple things I thought were of note and will focus on these first. We'll delve more into some other topics later.
On possibly bringing back Joshua Cribbs:
"Josh obviously needs to have a defined role in what he wants to do moving forward. He's testing the market to see what his value will be. He wants the perfect opportunity. I'm sure that what he finds and what we may talk about has to be perfect for both parties."
For any fans wanting the front office to bring back Cribbs for one last rodeo, sounds like that's a pipe dream. It sounds like Cribbs wants a more prominent role on a team, and the Browns are not willing to give into that. Considering Lombardi phrased the potential Cribbs' opportunity "perfect" a couple times, one can deduce it will have to be a "perfect storm" to get Cribbs back in the brown and orange.
On potentially adding veteran safety Kerry Rhodes:
"Kerry played for [defensive coordinator Ray Horton] in Arizona. He's a name out there. We haven't really done much at all. Right now, we're focusing on the Cleveland Brown players and seeing where we are."
A lot of people have been putting two and two together with Rhodes playing under Horton the past two years, and Horton now in Cleveland, it makes sense. However, it doesn't sound too much like Lombardi and the front office are adding that up the way the fans are in their heads. Rhodes will be 31 years old by the time the season starts, and Lombardi went on to discuss how you can win with a young secondary if you're rushing the quarterback.
On the defensive backfield:
"In the defensive backfield, ideally we would like to keep getting some players, in terms of keep evaluating,"
"You can play with young players [in the secondary] if you can rush the passer."
That doesn't sound like someone who is wanting to bring in veterans to me. Sounds to me like Lombardi is thinking that the defensive secondary is okay where they are and maybe adding some more "prospects" to the mix. With guys like Eric Hagg, Jamoris Slaughter, Leon McFadden, and Tashaun Gipson on the roster, it looks like it will be open competition. It does sound however, like Lombardi has some confidence in Gipson.
On Tashaun Gipson:
"Gipson played last year, and he played well for the team,"
"So he’s going to get all the looks."
The Browns signed Tashaun Gipson as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Wyoming last year, and he went on to play quite well in the defensive secondary. Gipson appeared in 10 games last year, starting 3. He recorded 33 tackles, 1 interception, and 1 pass deflection. Not too shabby for an UDFA. Lombardi is basically saying that Tashaun Gipson can be penciled in as the starting safety opposite TJ Ward at SS.
So, what do you all make of Lombardi's comments? Do you think the ship has finally sailed on Cribbs? Do you like the idea of keeping the secondary in tact, and letting Gipson get most of the reps?
I personally am okay with closing the book on Cribbs. If by chance that "perfect storm" were to occur and he'd be willing to take a lesser role (special teams specialist, most likely), then I'd be okay bringing him back. Odds are though with Cribbs reportedly visiting the Giants, Jets, Lions, and Raiders recently, that he'll find work elsewhere.
On the topic of the secondary; I'd be okay with the Browns bringing in Kerry Rhodes. And if they opt not to (which sounds likely), I'm okay with that as well. I do like Tashaun Gipson, and think he can develop into a nice safety. So giving him the reps and seeing how it goes with what (should be) an improved front 7, seems like the right move to me.
What say you DBN faithful, what do you make of Lombardi's comments?