The second day of free agency was dominated by Colin Kaepernick coverage, but ultimately we're no further along when it comes to the Cleveland Browns and free agency. Will the third day bring any hope, or at least the departure of QB Johnny Manziel?
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 3
8:38 PM: I thought this was pretty funny:
8:34 PM: The Browns made their first two free agent signings today: OL Alvin Bailey and ILB Justin Tuggle. Here is our story on the moves.
3:06 PM: OK, we are all caught up. The Browns did indeed receive a 4th and two 5th round compensatory picks for 2016, by the way.
2:56 PM: Darn, I can't believe we missed all these good rumors. The New York Jets are taking a look at free agent quarterback Robert Griffin III:
Major QB development: former Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is scheduled to visit the NY Jets later today, league source tells ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2016
2:55 PM: The Denver Broncos have acquired a quarterback...but it's just QB Mark Sanchez for now.
Acquired QB Mark Sanchez for a conditional '17 pick. He brings veteran leadership & will compete. This is the 1st step in our process.— John Elway (@johnelway) March 11, 2016
2:50 PM: Browns SS Donte Whitner is excited about the thought of getting QB Colin Kaepernick in Cleveland:
2:49 PM: A couple of hours ago, Mike Silver of the NFL Network reported that the Browns and 49ers generally agree on the draft pick compensation for QB Colin Kaepernick, but that the Browns and Kaepernick's agent don't agree on what Cleveland wants his restructured contract to be for:
As of Friday, talks between the Browns and Kaepernick's agents on a restructured deal had not progressed to a point that would satisfy the quarterback enough to green-light the arrangement. The 49ers and Browns, meanwhile, are in general agreement regarding the draft-pick compensation that it would take to acquire Kaepernick.
2:44 PM: Browns fans won't have to worry about the drama of CB Brent Grimes, who has signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
2:39 PM: His Browns connections have probably left the building, but former Browns.com staff writer Kevin Jones ponders if head coach Hue Jackson wants QB Colin Kaepernick, but that the analytics team is hesitant because their philosophy doesn't support it. (Note: I personally disagree; if they bent for Hue that much, one or both of our offensive linemen would be back)
@RyInCBus my guess is that Hue is pushing for Kap, analytics say no on him, but front office doesn't wana look dismissive of their coach— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) March 11, 2016
2:30 PM: We were busy for awhile there, so let's catch up on a few nuggets, first with a follow up on the waiving of QB Johnny Manziel. Even though they couldn't find a trade partner for him, the team could still hope that somebody claims him off waivers to offset some of his cap hits for the Browns, per the USA Today:
So after failing to trade Manziel, the #Browns now hope 28+ hours on the waiver wire gets someone to claim his contract (and its guarantees)— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 11, 2016
12:10 PM: It's official -- QB Johnny Manziel is no longer a member of the Cleveland Browns.
11:22 AM: Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, the Browns' final free agent, ILB Craig Robertson, is visiting the Seahawks:
10:07 AM: And now another update on Hue Jackson:
9:50 AM: Some conflicting reports on whether Hue Jackson is at the OSU Pro Day or not:
Conflicting reports on Hue https://t.co/2ziVOlj696— Orange and Brown Rpt (@TheOBR) March 11, 2016
9:45 AM: So, free agency or the Buckeyes' Pro Day? Let's take a look at where various members of the Browns' front office or coaching staff are expected to be today:
#Browns execs Sashi Brown and Andrew Berry are expected to be at OSU pro day.— Tom Reed (@treed1919) March 11, 2016
Getting word #Browns coach Hue Jackson is not here.— Tom Reed (@treed1919) March 11, 2016
As for Paul DePodesta, he's busy talking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:
9:39 AM: Something I missed this morning (because he has our account blocked) -- Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland expects QB Johnny Manziel to be cut by the end of the day:
Stop when youve heard before ... #Browns expected to release Johnny Manziel by close of day.— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) March 11, 2016
9:26 AM: We've whipped up a post on the Browns' projected compensatory picks for the 2016 draft.
9:00 AM: People were busy talking about compensatory picks for 2017 yesterday, but remember the Browns did very little in free agency last year too, and those compensatory picks for 2016 could be announced today:
8:45 AM: The Browns will have to find a mix of staying active in free agency (interpret that how you may) and paying attention to the Buckeyes Pro Day today:
8:38 AM: Just like they have on the radio, I wish I could "hit the breaking news" music. This morning, perhaps to get people talking, Adam Schefter tweeted a nugget about the Browns being big players for QB Colin Kaepernick. Why would Kaepernick want to play for an extension of the NCAA, though?
Here's a sentiment not many have shared recently: Colin Kaepernick wants to play in Cleveland. Respects Hue Jackson. Browns-Niners talking.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 11, 2016
8:35 AM: Finally, we hear from Matt Wood, which of course means we are going to the "no fun zone."
Matt: "I don't like getting other teams' free agents. They are usually free agents for a reason. It isn't very often when a good young player is available -- of course, unless he is a member of the Browns. If you aren't going to sign anyone, you better keep your own players. People keep saying that the Packers don't sign anyone, which is true. But they re-sign Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Mike Neal, Bryan Bulaga, and the list goes on and on. You can't do only one of these.
I realize that the majority of DBN sees nothing wrong with what the Browns did to Schwartz, but that really seems like a dick move and for a front office that is new, bad press is not good. And it isn't just a few national guys killing the Browns, it's everyone. There is something to this, this isn't the media just being mean. I really hope they get their act together. I can't even be disappointed in this anymore. This franchise just pisses season after season down the drain."
8:30 AM: Next up, we look through the scattered notes of Dan Lalich, better known as notthatnoise:
Dan: "Some scattered thoughts from my end:
- They don't give out trophies for the team with the most backbone, or the team that sticks to its guns. If all it would have taken to hold onto a guy like Schwartz was some flexibility, I would have hoped the front office could do it.
- On that note, Schwartz leaving is the only one that really bothers me. I would have liked everybody back, but sometimes things don't work out and that's understandable.
- It's hard to envision the team being as good on the offensive line next year. Maybe down the road saving some money in exchange for putting worse players on the field will pay off. But given that we don't have a legit QB on the roster, it's hard to imagine being in need of cap space anytime soon.
- This is kind of out there, but I think the Browns might be taking the Jacksonville approach. I think we're going to roll over cap space for a few years, and then go nuts in free agency supplementing all the young players we draft in the meantime."
8:25 AM: When you are reading the staff's takes this morning, you should read them in sequential order (starting from the earliest to the latest). Although it's not a strict dialogue, some of the conversation followed up on what others said behind-the-scenes. With that said, next up, we go out to Zach Miller:
Zach: "I wrote a little bit Thursday morning about my take, so I won't go into too much detail, but the more I sit back and look at it today, I'm pleased with the results of the last two days.
While I do agree the 'big four' are/were talented players here, as Mike pointed out and as I said earlier, we still sucked with them. So, while it stings to see our own guys walk, I'm at peace with it. Replacing them won't be easy, but we knew that was a possibility, and even more, a likelihood.
We've been through regime change time and again, and going through another one sucks, but at the end of the day if it gets done correctly this time, that's genuinely all that matters.
I think the new front office made some tough decisions and it showed a backbone for the first time in awhile. Letting guys walk that were good players, and also guys fans liked showed they care about winning, and will make hard decisions to get there. We could have sank money into those guys, sure we have the space, but if that's not in their plan, then I commend them for sticking with their plan. It's hard to say if their plan will ultimately pan out, but giving them a fair shot is only right.
I also like the idea of holding on to Johnny for a little longer. There's no reason to cut him if someone is going to cough something up for him, even if it's a 2019 7th rounder. I think it shows the front office and in large part, Hue, is going to hold people accountable this go 'round. That's refreshing. We know Johnny wants out, you could name the case his antics were deliberate. So, making him wait, and then hopefully getting something back in return is the best course of action.
Building through the draft is a solid means to a good team if done correctly. So, I'm willing to sit back and watch this team try and do it correctly. If it crashes and burns, and it's not like we can get worse, right?"
8:16 AM: Next up, we go to Josh Finney, who I think really went over the edge when we lost CB Johnson Bademosi yesterday:
Josh: "I'm hugely disappointed, but I'm disappointed in the culture in Berea and the fact that we got to where we are. My firm belief is in two facets of the new Browns culture:
- The Browns have (and will continue to) place hard values on the impact of players, positions, and contracts. They have an idea of what people are worth, and the common thread with negotiations of FA is that they established firm ideas of it, and refused to be used as a bargaining chip. 'Here's it what you're worth.'
- Given the poor drafting, bad free agentcy decisions, insane power struggles, and ridiculously bad coaching, I am shocked beyond measure that any of these free agents, who had lived in that toxic culture, were even considering staying here. At 30, it appeared Mack wanted to maximize his last big contract. The other three made vapor trails, they left so fast.
These Browns will be defined on how they handle adversity in 2016, and whether they can establish a positive culture despite not being a very good team. They will get the noise from the media, and they will have players doubting them. Unless they fix the QB situation quickly and begin to draft quality NFL players, this will be a yearly exodus until they do.
All it takes is one good draft. Until then, none of this surprises me."
8:12 AM: Remember that this morning, we're going to go through some opinions from our DBN staff, so let's start with Mike Krupka all the way in Hawaii:
Mike: "It shouldn't come as a surprise to Browns fans that the team is moving on from guys who have been with us through the years and years of losing. Sure, Mack is a Pro Bowler and Schwartz is an up and coming stud, and sure Gipson is a fine player (although he's been oft injured and hasn't really has back to back great seasons) and while Benjamin has speed, he finally produced last year as a WR for the first time ... but none of these moves should surprise us. We've created more holes on our roster but we have to consider if they even want to be here. Look at Barndige, he wants to be a Brown and he's a good player. Those are the types of guys I want on my team.
Here are a few of my thoughts to debate:
- If players don't want to be here, for whatever reason, my guess is Hue and the front office don't want them here. They may carry over negative connotations and sentiments about this team and organization being a 'loser' and that in itself is poisonous to any locker room. If Hue and the front office feel this is the reality with these guys, then they deserve a chance to prove themselves before being lambasted.
- If you think of the DePodesta and the Oakland Athletics / Moneyball strategy, letting guys walk who don't want to be a part of the team or who might be good but demand too much money is the name of the game. Finding cheaper talent (yes, this means building through the draft and at least two more years until we're truly competing) is part of the formula.
- We need to find a QB, until we do, everything else doesn't really matter. Mack, Schwartz, Benjamin, Gipson, Bademosi and even Thomas haven't helped us win many games. They may be talented, but the NFL is a bottom line business and winning starts with a QB.
- I wouldn't be surprised to see Haden dealt either. I don't know the repercussions of this on our cap, but I often find myself wondering about him being here for just as long as anybody else, being severely over paid, and not really affecting change inside the locker room, on the field or really truly being a leader that demands more."
8:00 AM: Good morning, Browns fans! If you missed any of our Day 2 coverage of free agency, you can check out yesterday's live blog here. This morning, I will be sprinkling in some reflections from some of the staff members at DBN on the Browns' approach to free agency, so that will be something to look forward to.
If you wondering why I chose the Bernie Kosar photo for the cover, I started watching a Steelers-Browns game from 1986 on YouTube yesterday. You have to have an appreciation for Kosar's accuracy -- ah, what it feels like to watch an actual quarterback in a Browns uniform.