The first day of free agency was filled with a lot of updates in our live blog, but the day ended with the Cleveland Browns losing all four of their starting free agents, not signing anybody, and retaining QB Johnny Manziel for now.
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)
2016 Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Day 2
8:15 PM: Another wide receiver goes off the market:
It's a 3-year deal for WR Jermaine Kearse and the Seattle #Seahawks. Spent 4 days testing the market and came back.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 11, 2016
7:55 PM: While the Broncos are still the favorite, the Browns are reportedly still in play for QB Colin Kaepernick.
The #49ers are "holding tight" on their asking price for Colin Kaepernick, source said. Broncos and Browns are most involved right now.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) March 11, 2016
7:45 PM: While other players have said some nice things about Cleveland, WR Travis Benjamin said it wasn't a difficult decision for him to leave Cleveland:
Travis Benjamin on if it was tough leaving Cleveland "Not at all." Said without hesitation— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) March 11, 2016
7:05 PM: The Lions are paying CB Johnson Bademosi top dollar for a special teamer:
Lions making Johnson Bademosi one of highest-paid special-teams players in league: 2 year, $4.5M with incentives that could bring it to $6M.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2016
That's $2.25 million per year, which is well above the $1 million a year I projected.
7:00 PM: The Johnny Manziel saga lasts another day...
#Browns Johnny Manziel will not be waived today. Maybe by tomorrow unless someone comes thru with that late pick.— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 10, 2016
6:17 PM: The hits keep on coming. The Browns have lost CB Johnson Bademosi to the Detroit Lions on a 2-year deal. Our article on him is up here.
Browns have lost another free agent, this time special teams standout Johnson Bademosi, who reached agreement on 2-year deal with Lions.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2016
4:52 PM: The Miami Dolphins are making a play for RB C.J. Anderson, per Adam Schefter:
Dolphins signed Broncos restricted free-agent running back CJ Anderson to a 4-year offer sheet. Denver has 5 days to match or lose.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2016
4:43 PM: Even though it doesn't seem like it, we know the Browns are doing work trying to get a couple of free agents to Cleveland. With that said, it's frustrating that we don't even have a single name that has been linked to the Browns, which leaves us to continue twiddling our thumbs here with nothing to talk about. Remember that last year, the Browns' first true signing of free agency didn't come until Day 7.
4:15 PM: If you are looking for some reading material, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports posted an article about the Browns' controversial Day 1 of free agency. I thought it would come off as a complete slam job, but it's actually pretty balanced, and it's the first national piece to echo the story about RT Mitchell Schwartz yesterday.
3:42 PM: We're still here, but there's nothing new to report. It's been a very slow day in general for free agency in the NFL.
2:18 PM: A few updates on QB Colin Kaepernick. Mike Silver of the NFL Network just said that the Broncos are the favorite to land him. Lane Adkins of the OBR also just said that he doesn't think the Browns' interest in him is serious.
2:15 PM: And now, here is the word from FS Tashaun Gipson in Jacksonville:
Why has there been a mass exodus from Cleveland? Gipson pauses……. "The pause tells you everything." …He then adds that he loves the city.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) March 10, 2016
Tashaun Gipson asked at JAX presser why folks "jumping ship" in CLE. Says, "I'd be the last guy to sit here and bash the city of Cleveland."— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 10, 2016
More Gipson: "How do you lose 2 Pro Bowlers, an up-and-coming RT, one of the best returners who's an up-and-coming WR in one FA class?"— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 10, 2016
2:10 PM: A few former Browns players have had their introductory press conferences with their new teams. Let's start with C Alex Mack.
There were also rumors yesterday that Mack would have considered staying in Cleveland had the team re-signed RT Mitchell Schwartz. At the end of the day, though, let's remember that Mack hasn't been against the idea of leaving Cleveland for awhile now. He signed an offer with the Jaguars a few years ago, and opted out of his contract last week.
12:55 PM: Building off the update below, McManamon also basically says that the Browns had moved on from their "big four" free agents prior to Day 1 of free agency. Over the past few weeks, Lane Adkins of the OBR has portrayed the Browns' front office as setting a value for a player and then not budging from it. If they knew the "big four" weren't satisfied with those values, them moving on already is understandable. It also provides some perspective in to them putting together a new plan, whatever that may be, and why when Schwartz came back with, "I'm ready now," the Browns said, "sorry, we've already moved on." Like it or not, that appears to be the story the team wants you to believe now.
12:43 PM: This afternoon, ESPN's Pat McManamon came out with a story that supported Mary Kay Cabot's story from this morning on RT Mitchell Schwartz. I did find one part interesting, though: in taking Schwartz' deal off the table, he said the reason was because the team had already "parceled [money] elsewhere." That says the front office has a distinct plan in mind now, but what exactly that means still remains uncertain -- perhaps it is to invest in a ton of lower- to mid-level players as opposed to just a few top-tier players.
12:05 PM: Hat tip to Ted Washington's Belly for pointing this out to us regarding Hue Jackson's former interest in QB Colin Kaepernick and regretting that he got away from Oakland back in 2011.
12:02 PM: It doesn't seem like there are particular rumors that the Browns are shopping LT Joe Thomas, but CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora is trying to float the possibility out there:
Joe Thomas is not the kind of guy who would ask for a trade, but seems pretty obvious for all parties Browns would be wise to shop him...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 10, 2016
He's one of few assets they could move, they need picks and at this stage of career he won't make it to other side of this latest rebuild— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 10, 2016
11:45 AM: We now have a separate story for the trade rumors on QB Colin Kaepernick up. According to Mike Silver of the NFL Network, the Browns could be a major player, and a third-round pick could be the type of trade compensation needed:
Michael Silver: "Browns far more serious in pursuit than Jets."— Brent Sobleski (@brentsobleski) March 10, 2016
Potential 3rd round pick.
(And he would know that situation.)
11:32 AM: Here is some big news -- the Browns are reportedly among the teams in the mix to acquire QB Colin Kaepernick from the San Francisco 49ers:
True. Browns, Jets in mix. https://t.co/9sH1DS5MfI— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 10, 2016
Compensation for QB Colin Kaepernick has not yet been good enough for 49ers to make deal, source says. Broncos, Jets and Browns involved.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) March 10, 2016
11:18 AM: A live shot of the Browns headquarters in Berea:
...but seriously, this just happened in Crocker Park. Hope everybody is OK.
11:10 AM: Not too much news going on. I know some fans have been joking about the possibility of Brent Grimes (and therefore his wife, Miko) coming to Cleveland. With Grimes released, though, remember that the last time he was a free agent in 2013, it came down to Cleveland or Miami, and Miko was receptive to how Browns fans treated them:
there is NOTHING wrong w/playing for the cleveland browns! nothing! at least their home fans show up and cheer, regardless of their record!— Miko Grimes (@iHeartMiko) January 25, 2016
10:30 AM: DBN's Zach Miller takes a look at "what we really learned" after Day 1 of free agency for the Browns.
10:18 AM: The NFL Network often sends Aditi Kinkhabwala to Berea to cover the Browns. Yesterday, she said during a radio interview that when she arrived, someone from the Browns said, "What are you doing here? You know we're not really doing anything today." Despite hearing from Sashi Brown earlier in the day that it was important for the Browns to "retain their own," Kinkhabwala waited in Berea the rest of the day, only to see player after player sign with other teams and the Browns do nothing.
She is hoping today is different, though:
@DawgsByNature I'm hoping. Hoping, hoping, hoping.— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 10, 2016
Sadly, she won't even get to experience that wonderful cafeteria that the DBN staff had the pleasure of visiting a couple of seasons ago.
@DawgsByNature The cafeteria is under construction!— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 10, 2016
10:12 AM: We're trying to see if Mike Silver of the NFL Network can check in to his sources to vouch for what Mary Kay Cabot reported about RT Mitchell Schwartz:
@DawgsByNature I'll keep doing some digging— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) March 10, 2016
9:45 AM: Who are the best free agents still available? This morning, Evan Silva of RotoWorld compiled a list of the Top 50 remaining free agents.
Names that interest me: OG Louis Vasquez or C Stefen Wisniewski, and WR Jermaine Kearse or WR Rueben Randle. Among players outside the top 50, I still like TE Jermaine Gresham and think the team could still be in play for OT Andre Smith, ILB Vincent Rey, and someone from the secondary.
9:38 AM: On Twitter, Lane Adkins of the OBR has been dropping a few nuggets for Browns fans. Early this morning, he said the Browns are "well aware" of the pounding they took from the national media and fans due to Wednesday's events, however they "disagree with what has been reported coming from agents."
Lane also said that the Browns are still pursuing several players they feel can fill starting roles for them, so we could see a few headlines today as Cleveland plows forward with their "moneyball" approach to football.
9:23 AM: OK, let's get to the gossip now. Late last night, Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer leaked the following details related to RT Mitchell Schwartz and the Browns supposedly "pulling their offer," as was widely reported on Wednesday:
- Before the NFL Combine, the Browns made Schwartz an offer that was "far below" his goal of $8.5 million per year. He didn't accept the offer, instead wanting to test the free agent market.
- Per Cabot, the Browns assumed this meant that Schwartz would be leaving. After seeking the market for him was lower-than-expected, Wednesday morning, Schwartz now felt that a return to Cleveland was his best option.
- When Schwartz approached the Browns again to talk about the offer from before the NFL Combine, the Browns told him the offer "no longer stood." Cabot is unclear whether this was a negotiation tactic on the Browns' part to continue trying to get better value, or if they had already moved on from Schwartz and drastically altered their free agent plans.
The story sounds believable, given what Schwartz ended up receiving from the Chiefs. With that said, I personally still think that even if they were in a re-building mode, a young right tackle like Schwartz who plays at a high level would have been worth retaining for that price. Per Cabot, Mack's agents felt the Browns were professional in their negotiations and would not have an issue working with them in the future. So, a lot of the "bad publicity" that the Browns received on Wednesday might have actually stemmed from Schwartz' camp and them being upset that they presumably lost out on money by testing the open market.
9:12 AM: Actually, before I get into the controversy, let's peek at the contract details for C Alex Mack:
Alex Mack $45M Falcons deal, $28.5M gtd, $11.5M signing bonus, salaries $1.75M, $6.75M, $8.5M, $8.5M, $8M— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 10, 2016
It's clear that the Browns had enough cap space to get equivalent deals done for Mack and Schwartz if they really wanted to. When Mack opted out, I predicted a 5-year, $50 million deal with $25 million of it guaranteed. Once again, he got pretty close to what I estimated -- a little less on the overall money, but a little more on the guaranteed money, which is the real bread-and-butter of the deal. Joel Corry's suggested package for Mack was absolutely spot on, but he was well over on Schwartz.
9:08 AM: Last night, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle posted the contract details for RT Mitchell Schwartz:
Mitchell Schwartz Chiefs deal: $33 million, $15M gtd, $7M signing bonus, salaries $750K, $4.9M, $5.7M, $6M, $6M— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 10, 2016
The Chief got a very good deal, as Schwartz will average $6.6 million per year. Even though it makes him one of the highest-paid right tackles right now, by next year, Schwartz' average will probably slip in the rankings as the league salary cap continues to increase. If I'm the Browns, I definitely would have wanted this deal. A few weeks ago, I said that my target for Schwartz would've been a 5-year for $34 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. *Finally*, I got the value right on one of our free agents. In the next update to the live blog, we'll take a look at what supposedly happened with Schwartz and the Browns on Wednesday.
8:57 AM: Good morning, Browns fans, and welcome to Day 2 of NFL Free Agency! If you are looking for a recap of what went down on the first day of free agency, go skim through our Day 1 live blog. According to our projections, the Browns still have about $44.5 million remaining in cap space. The Browns didn't make any moves on the first day of free agency, but they should be active now on some mid- to lower-end free agents. In the next few minutes, I'll get caught up with a few news and rumors I might have missed this morning or last night, so stay with us.