The Cleveland Browns confirmed an abundance of signings and trades Day 1 of free agency on Wednesday, but also saw the retirement of LT Joe Thomas. We return for another day of our live blog -- the newest updates will be at the top of this thread.
2018 Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Day 2
6:37 PM: One of the reasons not to count your eggs before they hatch in free agency. The Ravens had a reported deal with WR Ryan Grant, but it just fell thru due to a failed physical. Hopefully they don’t turn around and give that exact contract to another free agent receiver...like a Terrelle Pryor.
WR Ryan Grant, who reached agreement with Baltimore on a $29 million deal, failed his physical and his Ravens deal is null and void, per sources. Grant will have to find another deal with another team willing to pass him on his physical.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2018
But that isn’t an immediate concern, because Baltimore is looking at WR Michael Crabtree now.
With WR Ryan Grant out in Baltimore, Ravens now are expected to focus on former Raiders’ WR Michael Crabtree, who will be visiting on Friday, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2018
6:33 PM: Not much new news, but of note, there are contract triggers for four Browns players tomorrow.
- P Britton Colquitt: $1.35 million of base salary becomes fully guaranteed
- OG Joel Bitonio: $1.3 million of 2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed
- C J.C. Tretter: $3.5 million of base salary becomes fully guaranteed
- QB Tyrod Taylor: $6 million roster bonus is due
None of them appear in any danger of being cut. They’ll get their guarantees/bonuses.
3:16 PM: A few notes from the press conference that head coach Hue Jackson just had:
- The team “made some overtures” in trying to get QB Tyrod Taylor last offseason, so he’s happy to have him here. Feels like Taylor has improved in some way every year. Hopes the good-will of him making the playoffs can rub off on the team. There is no competition and no question that Taylor will be the team’s starting quarterback in 2018. This is the first year as a head coach that he’s been able to make that proclamation at this point.
- Kept giving GM John Dorsey a lot of credit for executing the plan and acquiring the players he did.
- Asked if he “knew” about LT Joe Thomas retiring, he said we were still holding out hope that he would play. One weird comment is that Jackson said, “I’m still holding out hope.” Jackson thinks so much of Thomas that he will always let Thomas come to Berea any time he wants. His locker will stay the same. He can come on the plane any time he wants with the team. They’ll play some guys at left tackle, but make no mistake, there is no replacing Thomas. We won’t be the same line without Thomas.
- Asked to clarify his line about “holding out hope” Jackson laughed and said, “I’m not kidding, he can call me any time and [change his mind].” But he also said he understands Thomas made a decision and is retired now.
- Hue said, “Right now, my reputation isn’t very good” with respect to all the losing. But he credited the reputation of the front office for helping change the culture.
- They wish DeShone Kizer well, but they wanted someone with experience who had won in the NFL, and that was Tyrod Taylor.
- Cleveland has played a lot of young players the past two years, and “that hasn’t worked very well, let’s be honest.” So if they get a young quarterback, they’ll be a play away, but that guy needs to know the starter here will be Tyrod Taylor. He doesn’t see Taylor as a bridge quarterback. Hue is tired of hearing that word. He sees Taylor as our quarterback. “If we draft someone in the future who becomes a better player, that’ll take care of itself.”
- He brushed off the A.J. McCarron question. Jackson said, “nobody in this room knew last year [during the offseason] that we tried to get Tyrod.”
- Late in the year, in November and December, you need to be able to hand the ball off to someone who can make plays in the element. That is what RB Carlos Hyde can provide.
- While mentioning weapons and playmakers for this season, Jackson did include “a young, up-and-coming Corey Coleman,” so that might be a good sign for him.
- Gregg Williams is very excited. “The mad magician is up there finding new packages to use right now (laughing).”
2:55 PM: A few notes from the press conference that GM John Dorsey just had:
- QB Tyrod Taylor is a natural leader, has the arm strength to go deep. Fits the mechanics of Hue’s offense. Right now, he’s the starting quarterback; can see him having long-term success. On the topic of a bridge quarterback, Dorsey said that’s a hypothetical question. Taylor has led a team to the playoffs, so him being here is exciting. When we get to the draft, we’ll see what happens there.
- WR Jarvis Landry has marvelous stats, will be ideal in the slot receiver position. Competitive, loves the game of football. Fits that model.
- The best five offensive linemen will play. Spencer Drango, Shon Coleman, and Donald Stephenson will get first crack at left tackle. Joe Thomas was already working on technique with Coleman in the training facility.
- Dorsey listens to strong recommendations from Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf. That played a factor in acquiring DB Damarious Randall from Green Bay.
- RB Carlos Hyde can play a Browns style of running game, but he doesn’t necessarily rule out whether the team drafts RB Saquon Barkley.
- Dorsey was asked if he had a goal to keep his top five draft picks are kept in tact. His answer was a one-liner that didn’t even address it? Weird.
- What positions still need to be improved? Non-answer, but Dorsey said he wants to create as much competition as possible. After the presser, he’s going upstairs to talk to the personnel staff to discuss how to handle the second phase of free agency here.
- Dorsey thought the Browns needed some more speed in the defensive backfield, and that’s what they went out and got. The agent of CB Jason McCourty was in the building today, and they had a very long talk. About an hour ago, out of respect, Dorsey went to McCourty and told him they were going to release him to give him a better chance of catching on elsewhere as a veteran.
- “I’m always open for business” (laughs) with respect to trading the No. 1 overall pick. “Call me.”
2:20 PM: The Browns officially announced 10 roster cuts on Thursday:
2 Players Terminated
- CB Jason McCourty
- CB B.W. Webb
8 Played Waived
- RB Josh Rounds
- WR Sammie Coates
- OL Zach Banner
- OL Joseph Cheek
- DL Ricky Ali’ifua
- DL Collin Bevins
- LB Jeremy Cash
- DB Trevon Hartfield
1:50 PM: I wondered about this, but I didn’t think it would happen: the Browns are releasing CB Jason McCourty.
Browns are releasing CB Jason McCourty, source says. They’re rebooting with their own guys obviously. He should have interest elsewhere.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 15, 2018
11:40 AM: The Browns will be introducing their trades at 12:30 PM ET today in Berea.
11:30 AM: I wanted to give a shoutout to the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, which sent us these awesome-looking bobbleheads of two of the Browns’ first-round draft picks a year ago, DE Myles Garrett and S Jabrill Peppers, in their college gear. You can buy the Garrett one here, and the Peppers one here. Each one cost $40. Below is a shot of how they looked when we unboxed them.
11:10 AM: This comes from Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer:
“The Browns and Pryor have been trying to come to terms on the money, and if they can close the gap, he’ll be back in a Browns uniform soon. In the meantime, Pryor might start to take some visits to other teams, and let the market determine his price tag.”
11:01 AM: Buckle up, we could be seeing some releases soon! The first one leaked early, and it’s WR Sammie Coates who says goodbye. I thought he had a slight chance to stick around because of Todd Haley, but I have zero issue with saying goodbye to him.
Browns have released WR Sammie Coates. He tweeted his goodbye to Cleveland just now. @sammiecoates11— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 15, 2018
10:55 AM: This is unrelated to free agency, but I still felt like throwing it in here. You never know which team it could be — the Browns?
Later on Tuesday, Mayfield received an alert from a trusted source that he had a tail in Norman. A private investigator, he was told, was tracking his movements on behalf of a team.https://t.co/0WuRab3wfY— The MMQB (@theMMQB) March 15, 2018
10:50 AM: At some point today, the Browns will be holding a press conference to welcome the new players acquired via trade:
10:00 AM: Scanning the free agent wire, there are two players I personally have an interest in the Browns strongly looking at. To re-iterate, these are not rumors: WR Terrelle Pryor, S Tyrann Mathieu.
In addition, I’d be really compelled for the Browns to consider pursuing one of the better guards still available, and making the possible decision to transition Joel Bitonio over to left tackle. A defensive end could still be in the mix, because I can’t imagine C.J. Smith was all the team had their heart set on to bolster the edge. You can check out the ‘top free agents available’ lists here:
9:45 AM: We’re back! We stepped away from the live blog for a bit so we could do some quick approximations of how much cap space the Browns have left. According to our estimates, Cleveland still has $68.80 million in available cap space, a figure that received a boost after the retirement of LT Joe Thomas (a $13.5 million credit).
8:55 AM: So, what’s the latest on WR Terrelle Pryor? For one, him coming to Cleveland is not a sure thing. We heard one report yesterday that he was, once again, asking too much money, so his price tag would likely come down in a day or two.
Yesterday night, Pro Football Talk reported that three teams, the Browns, Rams, and 49ers, were showing interest in him. Last night on Twitter, Lane Adkins of The OBR hinted that the Browns “haven’t shown too much love his way yet,” further indicating how GM John Dorsey, not head coach Hue Jackson, is dictating things this offseason.
8:45 AM: Good morning, Browns fans! First off, if you missed any of yesterday’s action, you can go through our live blog. One thing we didn’t cover yesterday was that A.J. McCarron finally went off the market, signing for peanuts with the Buffalo Bills (2 years, $10 million). Not to be a broken record, but that again makes last season’s botched trade a blessing in disguise. Thank you, Sashi.