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Cleveland Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Rumors, Signings, and More

Our live blog and free agency tracker for the Cleveland Browns will be going all day long, so make sure you continue to refresh this page for the latest updates!

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Free agency officially begins for the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the teams in the NFL at 4:00 PM ET. We've heard about plenty of rumors the past several days, but today is the day where we'll find out how many moves the Browns have up their sleeves with roughly $44.5 million in available cap space.

We will have all of the Browns-related coverage on free agency here at Dawgs By Nature throughout the day. We will have individual posts about each free agent signing that Cleveland makes, or any other relevant news.

This thread will act as a "live blog" of sorts, with brief but important updates about the latest 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 1

The free agency live blog / open thread for Thursday is here.

7:58 PM: At least we've got this going for us...

7:12 PM: Here is a general recap post of what the Browns did on Day 1 of free agency (which was nothing). Also, the Bengals re-signed CB Adam Jones to a three-year deal.

6:46 PM: It sounds like FS Tashaun Gipson might be the highest-paid free agent safety from this year's class, even if he didn't reach his ultimate target price:

6:42 PM: The final domino has fallen. According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, the Jacksonville Jaguars have landed FS Tashaun Gipson.

6:02 PM: No one is thinking about them, but remember that ILB Craig Robertson and CB Johnson Bademosi also hit the free agent market today. FS Tashaun Gipson is the last of the "big" free agents who is unsigned, and we haven't heard him connected to any teams in the media yet.

5:52 PM: Here are some contract details for C Alex Mack in Atlanta.

5:42 PM: This news comes out of left field: the Kansas City Chiefs are being stripped of 3rd- and 6th-round draft picks for illegal tampering in 2015.

5:36 PM: This feels like Browns free agency today:

5:33 PM: According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of, the Browns will definitely cut QB Johnny Manziel this week, but she isn't sure why they are waiting either.

5:28 PM: We heard multiple reporters say something about the Browns pulling an offer off the table from RT Mitchell Schwartz. His brother, Geoff Schwartz, just congratulated him on Twitter and made reference to the incident:

5:26 PM: Multiple local Browns reporters have now tweeted that the team will definitely not be releasing QB Johnny Manziel. I assume that statement was relayed from the team. They are either trying to trade him or wait for him to be suspended so they can recover bonus money.

5:15 PM: According to Andy Baskin of 92.3 the Fan and WEWS, RT Mitchell Schwartz appears to be heading to the Kansas City Chiefs:

And some more confirmation from Rand Getlin of the NFL Network:

5:02 PM: The New York Giants are paying big bucks on the defensive side of the ball, now landing DE/OLB Olivier Vernon:

4:55 PM: If there's one thing Browns fans expected today, it was to rejoice at QB Johnny Manziel's departure. It doesn't appear that'll happen today, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer:

4:40 PM: When Pep Hamilton met with the local media last month, he was asked about the possibility of losing two starting offensive linemen. Here's a reminder of what he said at the time:

Hamilton was asked if it is unnerving knowing that two members of that playmaking offensive line could be gone in the next 4-5 weeks. "It is," said Hamilton, with a bit of a nervous laugh. "I try not to think about it. At the same time, I'm optimistic that things are going to work out."

Well, he's going to have to think about it a whole lot now.

4:35 PM: Per Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, C Alex Mack put out the following statement regarding his time with the Browns:

"This was an extremely difficult decision. After careful consideration, I concluded it was time to start a new chapter in my life. Over the last seven years, I have established friendships with teammates, coaches, and staff that will last a lifetime. I certainly will miss the Dawg Pound! I am VERY thankful and grateful for the opportunity and privilege to have played for the Browns organization, and I did my level best always to represent the team well. I'm particularly thankful to Jimmy and Dee Haslam -- and to the fans and the city of Cleveland as a whole -- for the way they embraced and accepted me. I wish the entire organization good luck and much success in the future."

4:18 PM: (sigh) There is no turning back now. The Atlanta Falcons just officially announced the signing of C Alex Mack. What is frustrating is that the Browns supposedly still had a decent pulse on keeping Mack (and RT Mitchell Schwartz) today before it just fell apart:

4:14 PM: I received some clarity regarding K Travis Coons. It sounds like he was tendered by the Browns, he just has not signed his tender yet, which is why we haven't heard anything about him from the Browns. So, "nothing to see here" regarding Coons.

4:05 PM: No immediate news related to the Browns, but we'll of course be updating this as information comes along.

3:54 PM: We finally have the terms of WR Travis Benjamin's deal, via Ian Rapoport:

I had predicted $5.4 million for Benjamin, so he got a little bit more than that at $6 million per year with more than half of it guaranteed. It's not a massive deal, and it's a little surprising to hear that he's getting less than WR Mohamed Sanu got from Atlanta.

3:45 PM: We are just 15 minutes away from the start of free agency. I wish I had some positive news on the Browns' front, but there is nothing to report as of now.

3:23 PM: Browns WR Josh Gordon has made a habit of congratulating Cleveland free agents who are headed elsewhere today:

3:07 PM: We are less than an hour away from free agency officially beginning, and three more big free agent signings are being reported:

  • RB Matt Forte is signing with the New York Jets.
  • The Houston Texans have reportedly agreed to a deal with QB Brock Osweiler.
  • The Giants have signed DL Damon Harrison to a 5-year, $46.25 million deal.

2:52 PM: Oh, come on now, how is WR Mohamed Sanu worth $7 million a year? The latest report says that the Atlanta Falcons are going to land him with that super-lucrative deal:

2:42 PM: Haha, I needed this -- @UncleChaps has done it again, fooling ESPN into thinking Jay Glazer tweeted a deal for DE/OLB Olivier Vernon to Jacksonville:

I love @UncleChaps antics, but sadly, I muted him early this morning to ensure I would not fall for any of his tricks.

2:31 PM: In general free agency news, the Buccaneers are retaining RB Doug Martin for 5 years, $35.75 million. Regarding the Browns, here is our separate post on C Alex Mack reportedly going to Atlanta.

2:24 PM: This is for those fans seeking self-deprecating humor:

2:16 PM: On the NFL Network, Mike Silver just talked about the Browns again. He again re-iterated that he is good friends with Hue Jackson, but right now he is talking from his own perspective, not Jackson's. He said Jackson has all the confidence in Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta, and that they want to avoid previous front office mistakes in free agency.

Silver says those mistakes include giving WR Dwayne Bowe so much money, and then not re-signing productive players like OLB Jabaal Sheard and CB Buster Skrine. Silver is confused then why the team wouldn't commit more to now re-signing productive players like C Alex Mack, FS Tashaun Gipson, and RT Mitchell Schwartz. With Schwartz, Silver confirms again that three different sources said that Cleveland pulled their offer for him. Silver said, "who knows, maybe they have a master plan and will still get Schwartz by the end of the day," but right now he just doesn't get it.

2:10 PM: Here is our separate story on the Browns reportedly pulling their offer for RT Mitchell Schwartz.

2:03 PM: There are more reports about agents complaining about the Browns' hesitation:

1:55 PM: I've been listening to 92.3 the Fan all day, and as I do every year, I'll give a plug and suggest everyone tune in to Bull & Fox on online. They will be on the air from 2 PM to 7 PM ET, so they will be able to react to all of the free agency news as it breaks.

1:50 PM: On Twitter, WR Andrew Hawkins is hinting that WR Mohamed Sanu is seeking $6 million per year, to which I would personally say, "no thanks." And, the Browns aren't one of the teams in on Sanu:

1:46 PM: Even though the Browns might have been offering C Alex Mack more overall money, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is implying that the Atlanta Falcons offered more guaranteed money, which is probably the most important factor for players, especially those on the back end of their career.

Rapoport also says that the reason Mack was able to command so much guaranteed money is because the Browns and Chargers were also in hot pursuit of him. The Falcons sadly have come out on top.

1:21 PM: Well, this one is a punch in the gut. Sports Illustrated's Peter King is reporting that C Alex Mack is taking less money so that he can play for the Atlanta Falcons and Kyle Shanahan. King insinuates that the Browns were offering $10 million per year, while the Falcons are in for $9.5 million per year.

1:08 PM: NFL Network's Mike Silver has corroborated PFT's report earlier, saying that a source close to RT Mitchell Schwartz says the Browns had an offer on the table for him before pulling it. Silver, along with somebody on the Browns, have no idea what Cleveland is doing with this approach:

12:52 PM: Sooooo many reports to digest:

12:44 PM: One of the players I coveted in free agency was FS Rodney McLeod of the Rams, thinking he could be a cheap replacement for FS Tashaun Gipson. Well, it turns out he "wasn't so cheap" after all, as the Eagles are giving him a 5-year deal worth $37 million. I had predicted $6.25 million for McLeod, but he's getting $7.4 million. That might be what Gipson targets now, up from what the Bengals' George Iloka got earlier.

12:35 PM: With TE Heath Miller retiring, the Pittsburgh Steelers might be angling to replace him with a receiving threat at tight end in Ladarius Green. The Chargers already retained TE Antonio Gates and are poised to sign Browns WR Travis Benjamin.

12:32 PM: Argggh! The offensive line daggers just keep on coming, this time from Adam Schefter of ESPN regarding C Alex Mack:

12:25 PM: Welp...

Silver said that his source is not an agent. The news is discouraging given what Mary Kay Cabot had reported earlier in the day, although Lane Adkins of the OBR hinted that the $7.5 million figure wasn't-so-accurate.

12:20 PM: We're under three hours away from the start of free agency. The news has been a tad quiet over the past half hour, so let's take a second to reflect over the big news right before last year's official start to the league year. That's when a bunch of trades came down in the NFL, including Sam Bradford going from St. Louis to Philly.

11:52 AM: WR Josh Gordon is congratulating WR Travis Benjamin for likely landing with the Chargers:

11:36 AM: We have a separate thread up now on WR Travis Benjamin likely heading to the San Diego Chargers.

11:28 AM: I just spent the past 10 minutes pre-writing a possible "Manziel is officially cut" story for 4 PM ET, and then I saw this nugget from Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer:

Getting Mitchell Schwartz back for $7.5 million per year would fair enough in my estimation. Even though I pitched the thought of getting him for $6.8 million per year, I'd be willing to bend upward, given what some of the other offensive linemen have received.

11:10 AM: This seems to be the running theme of the Browns' front office so far (see below). One has to wonder if there is a time today the Browns will stop gauging the market and say, "let's now jump in and attack" for a player or two at a higher dollar amount.

11:08 AM: I don't have much faith that the Browns will re-sign FS Tashaun Gipson, but the details of S George Iloka's contract came in at 5 years for $30 million, which is a lot cheaper than Gipson's reported demands of 5 years for $47.5 million. I think Iloka's deal will help bring Gipson's demands back to reality, but I still don't see the Browns being the team that meets them.

10:55 AM: Thank you to everyone who has checked out the live blog so far! Please share it on Twitter or Facebook -- the more visitors, the merrier! With regard to the critical nature of the Browns' handling of free agency, that's not the tone I'm taking, but I like to convey the perception that is out there. At the end of the day, we have to remember that the Browns are trying a unique front office / analytical type of approach this year. Maybe their philosophy includes not paying top-of-the-line contracts for players who aren't quarterbacks, which would explain why the interest in a guy like WR Marvin Jones wasn't there.

The one move I still hope we see the Browns make today is re-signing C Alex Mack. It might go against the philosophy I just said (paying top dollar for a non-quarterback), but I'd just like to see the offensive line remain stable next year, and I think we have the cap space to make that investment in one non-quarterback player while still having a bunch of money left over.

10:50 AM: More on Mike Silver -- he was on the NFL Network about ten minutes ago and didn't have high praise for the Browns' front office and their approach to free agency so far:

"I'm worried about the new Browns regime and some of the new guys who came in to the front office. They're really smart, with a bunch of Harvard guys, but I'm not sure they are NFL street smart. Marvin Jones was an intended fit for that team, but they didn't pursue him. Alex Mack may well be a Falcon in a few hours. Schwartz may be gone. They aren't getting their own free agents or the players they were targeting. It's time for that front office to step up to the big league."

Hue Jackson is close with Silver. Before the Browns hired Jackson, Silver was the person who provided the up-to-the-date information on where he would land as a head coach. His critical nature of the Browns has to be partially linked to his investment in wanting to see Jackson succeed. He told our friends at Dawg Pound Nation, "I am still excited about [the Browns'] future -- just hoping they come hard out of gate."

10:47 AM: Are the Browns going to wait until the final hour of free agency to up the ante for C Alex Mack? According to Mike Silver of the NFL Network, if the Browns don't step up their game, the Atlanta Falcons are the leading contender to sign him:

10:42 AM: On Twitter, Lane Adkins of the OBR is getting critical over the Browns' approach to free agency, especially when it's crunch time. He tells us the Browns have had a "non-aggressive approach and lack of commitment despite touching base with numerous agents." That would seem to turn off or frustrate agents, who are interested in top-dollar offers, especially if other teams are calling. When Adkins was asked about the progression of talks with C Alex Mack, he responded, "A turtle moves quicker."

10:25 AM: This is pretty interesting -- following up on what Mike Silver tweeted earlier about WR Marvin Jones, he says the Browns were never really in the mix for him, surprisingly. Maybe that follows that was said earlier about Sashi Brown not even bothering with players commanding top dollar:

We have more on the "not pursuing Jones" story here.

10:18 AM: After a career receiving year in New Orleans, the Baltimore Ravens are signing TE Benjamin Watson. He returns to the AFC North after previously playing for the Browns. According to the USA Today, Watson signed a 2-year deal worth $7 million. Watson is 35 years old, and TE Gary Barnidge is still 30. I'm telling you, it's remarkable that Barnidge decided to re-sign with Cleveland for 3 years, $12.3 million instead of maximizing his money on the open market.

10:08 AM: Yesterday, we talked about how OG Kelechi Osemele was resetting the offensive line market by getting $12 million a year, but we didn't know about his guaranteed money. Those details are now available, and Osemele is indeed resetting the market, even if he does shift over to left tackle in Oakland:

10:00 AM: From the NFL Network's Mike Silver, it sounds like the Browns weren't a top contender for WR Marvin Jones:

As a side note, I know that there is a "legal tampering" period, which we are still in until 4 PM ET when everything is fare game, but the players aren't supposed to have talked to potential teams yet, only their agents. Right when the clock hits 4 PM ET, though, you know a ton of deals will be announced.

9:54 AM: The Browns have been marginally linked to S George Iloka, but multiple reports are now saying that the Bengals are ready to secure him to return:

9:45 AM: Something to watch over the next couple of hours is whether the Browns tender K Travis Coons, who is an exclusive rights free agents. They tendered two other players who were ERFA, so it's odd that they didn't do the same (equivalent to a minimum salary) for Coons, unless they are trying to work out a multi-year deal for him. If Coons is not tendered by 4 PM ET, he will become an unrestricted free agent. Other players left untendered by the Browns include WR Darius Jennings, OL Darrian Miller, and OL Kaleb Johnson.

Or, could I possibly still dream about the Browns signing K Phil Dawson?

9:40 AM: Aditi Kinkhabwala of is often tasked with covering the Browns. According to her, agents are telling her that Browns Executive VP of Football Operations Sashi Brown is not looking to make a big splash in free agency. "Big splash" might mean that he's not going to break the bank for other teams' free agents; it doesn't mean that the team won't be'll just have to be for the right price.

9:37 AM: Could the Browns end up being in the market for DE/OLB Olivier Vernon? According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Miami Dolphins are pulling the transition tag from him, which will make him a free agent:

A few days ago, Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson expected the Browns to be a candidate for exploring Vernon, and that was back when he still had the transition tag.

9:30 AM: Why do all of those free agents want to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins? Besides the cap space and big dollars they were willing to throw out, the tax factor also plays a part:

9:25 AM: Maybe this is why WR Andrew Hawkins hinted that the Browns aren't getting WR Marvin Jones -- according to ESPN, Jones will sign with the Detroit Lions, who had a void at receiver with WR Calvin Johnson retiring.

9:22 AM: Browns WR Andrew Hawkins has been trying to campaign for his former Bengals teammates, WR Marvin Jones and WR Mohamed Sanu, to venture on over to Cleveland since they are free agents. With the news about WR Travis Benjamin this morning (see below), 92.3 the Fan's Dustin Fox playfully tweeted that it was time for the Browns to make a bigger push for Jones. Hawkins responded to Fox with a tweet that didn't seem too optimistic about that prospect, though:

9:14 AM: Now that we've got the cap room formality out of the way, let's get into the player nuggets. The big story this morning is that several reporters from the NFL Network, including Rand Getlin, is reporting that the San Diego Chargers are going to sign WR Travis Benjamin today.

Out of all the Browns' free agents, we've heard several times from Lane Adkins at the OBR that the Browns and Benjamin have been "close" on the numbers. That's why reports came out even last season that the parties seemed to be 75-80% of the way there. It sounds like neither side was willing to budge on Benjamin's value, though, even though it might not have been a substantial amount. How substantial? Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle says that Benjamin was seeking over $6 million per year.

9:05 AM: This morning, we need to get the Browns' available cap space number figured out. Although we reported a couple of days ago that the team had a little over $50 million in cap space (previously, we had the Browns' total cap spent at $126.636 million), the team then re-signed ILB Tank Carder and tendered several restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents. The number that is set in stone is the Browns' 2016 adjusted salary cap, which is $176.686 million.

In breaking down the recent changes to the Browns' cap space, let's start with the details of Carder's contract, which will take up $1.1 million in cap space for 2016:

RFA: The Browns gave original round tenders (worth $1.671 million each) to WR Terrelle Pryor, OL Austin Pasztor, OLB Scott Solomon, and DB Don Jones. In total, those four players will take up $6.684 million in cap space in 2016.

ERFA: The Browns tendered RB Raheem Mostert and DL Jamie Meder at $525,000 each, which totals $1.050 million.

Subtraction by Addition: When you add players to the Top 51, you end up also losing the cheap salaries at the bottom of the roster. The Browns added 7 players into the Top 51 who bumped out five contracts at $450,000 each and two others at $464,325 and $479,384. Together, that comes to $3.194 million.

Browns' Top 51 Cap Total: $130.587 million
Browns' Dead Money for 2016: $1.614 million
Browns' Total Cap Spent for 2016: $130.587 million + $1.614 million = $132.201 million

When you subtract the two subtotals above ($176.686 million - 132.201 million), we conclude that the Browns have "$44.485 million in cap space" as of March 9th.

8:40 AM: Welcome to our free agency live blog! I am ready to be with you here at Dawgs By Nature all day long. It'll be a strenuous day of coverage, but I've come prepared with snacks (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, iced oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and pretzels) along with lunch and dinner I can quickly pop in the microwave. If a headline breaks, especially after 4:00 PM ET, I have to work as quickly as possible to get a separate article posted on the news, an update in this live blog, and then updates on Twitter and Facebook.