December 2007


Derek AndersonLooking For Clues To The 2008 Cleveland Browns

Ok, first things first….no, I am NOT writing off the 2007 Browns season. I’m still cautiously optimistic in the power of Jim Sorgi to send the Browns into the playoffs (something DA couldn’t do against the NFL’s 25th ranked pass defense). No, I am NOT writing off DA. I still think he has the potential to be a top 8 or so NFL quarterback. No, I am NOT on the Brady Quinn bandwagon. We have not seen the guy take one single real NFL snap. We have no clue what kind of player he will be.

All that being said, I have some time off this week from my paying job, so I decided to do some research for my non-paying job. My interest in this topic was sparked by reader Shane, who posted in the comments section on an earlier post a story on the site profootballtalk.com claiming that Bill Parcells will be interested in giving up the Dolphins’ draft picks to acquire DA in the offseason in an attempt to expedite the Dolphins’ turnaround. Now, I have never heard of profootballtalk.com and I have no idea how legit this report is, but Shane was right in that I did indeed enjoy the story because it sparked my curiosity. It got me to wondering what every team’s QB outlook for 2008 looks like, and accordingly, which teams would even consider trading for either DA or Brady Quinn.

So what I’ve done is looked at the QB situation of every team in the NFL, compared it to their draft position (as of now), and made my best guess as to whether or not each team would consider making a move for one of the Browns’ QBs in the upcoming season. Again, it’s important for me to emphasize that I am not saying that the Browns will be looking to trade either QB. I do not think that is the case at all. I believe it is the Browns’ preference to head into 2008 with both QBs on the roster. But will any teams make an offer to the Browns? It’s possible. Will a team give up their 1st and 3rd round picks to sign DA? It’s possible. That’s all I’m considering. From these other teams’ points of view, will they even consider making a move for one of the Browns’ QBs? Take this FWIW and have fun with it.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys:

QBs on Roster: Tony Romo (2008 Salary: $6 million; Signed Through: 2013) – QB Score per Play (rank): 3.37 (2)

Other QBs: Brad Johnson

Projected Draft Position: 30-31 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: No interest. None. They already have the Browns’ first round pick, and they have this guy named Tony Romo. Safe to say, they’re content with their current QB situation.

New York Giants:

QBs on Roster: Eli Manning (2008 Salary: $8.45 million; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.12 (25)

Other QBs: Anthony Wright, Jared Lorenzen

Projected Draft Position: 24-27 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: For better or worse, the Giants are stuck with Manning. Despite consistently poor QB play this season, the Giants are still in the playoffs again this year, and with a significant financial contribution to Manning through 2009, there’s no reason for the Giants to be making trades to bring in other QBs. Just not gonna happen. The Giants will be sticking with Eli Manning.

Philadelphia Eagles:

QBs on Roster: Donovan McNabb (2008 Salary: $6.3 million; Signed Through: 2013) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.08 (14)

Other QBs: AJ Feely, Kevin Kolb

Projected Draft Position: 13-18 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: The Eagles are a curious team to figure out. Publicly, everyone is putting on a happy face, but there have been numerous reports from behind the scenes stating that both the team and the QB feel that it’s time for them to part ways and head in a new direction. McNabb has actually played at an above average level this season, and will be an interesting piece to the QB puzzle this offseason. Rumors are flying about a possible trade sending McNabb back to his hometown of Chicago. With AJ Feely playing well in place of McNabb at times this season, and with Kevin Kolb being the heir apparent to the Philly QB throne, it could indeed be possible that this is McNabb’s final season in the city of brotherly hate. What does this have to do with the Browns? Not a lot directly. Philly will not be giving up draft picks to get either Quinn or DA. The McNabb impact will come into play as teams will consider whether it would be better to trade for McNabb or one of the Browns’ QBs. This will be a team to watch in the off season.

Washington Redskins:

QBs on Roster: Jason Campbell (2008 Salary: $635,000; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.65 (18)

Other QBs: Todd Collins, Mark Brunell

Projected Draft Position: 19-20 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: Fighting for a playoff spot, the Washington Redskins find themselves in a bit of a QB controversy all their own, with the excellent play of Todd Collins of late in place of the injured Jason Campbell, who was believed to be the Redskins’ QB of the future. If Collins can lead the team into the playoffs with a win over Dallas this weekend, and even possibly win a playoff game, then thing will get real interesting in Washington. Needless to say, with all this going on, the last thing they need is to introduce yet another QB into this equation. So no, they will have no interest in the Browns’ QBs.

NFC North

Chicago Bears:

QBs on Roster: Rex Grossman (2008 Salary: Free Agent) – QB Score per Play (rank): 0.56 (31)
Brian Griese (2008 Salary: $1.4 million + $300,000 roster bonus; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.58 (22)

Other QBs: Kyle Orton

Projected Draft Position: 9-12 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: The defending NFC Champions have themselves a QB mess. Do they re-sign Rex Grossman and give him another chance? That seems unlikely given the simply awful play he’s given them the past couple seasons. Do they give Griese his roster bonus and bring him back to be the starter? At this point, it’s hard to fathom how that could even be a consideration for a team looking to get back into the ranks of the NFC elite. Do they hand over the team to Kyle Orton? No chance. The Bears are a team who will be looking to make a splash at QB this off season. They will inquire about Donovan McNabb, and you can bet they will inquire about Quinn. If the Browns do not sign DA to a long term deal and just give him the max tender, the Bears will at least weigh whether or not DA would be worth the cost. No matter how you look at it, the Bears will be a major player in the QB market this off season as it is their #1 most pressing need.

Detroit Lions:

QBs on Roster: Jon Kitna (2008 Salary: $1.95 million; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.88 (17)

Other QBs: J.T. O’Sullivan, Dan Orlovsky

Projected Draft Position: 13-18 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: Ah yes, the Lions. Jon Kitna made his bold prediction before this season that the Lions would win 10 games year. At 6-2, his prediction looked like it was coming true right before our eyes. 6 straight loses later, and the Lions were 6-8 before finally getting another win last week. They still have a chance to finish .500, and no matter what happens, the Lions were an improved team this year. I’d expect them to focus their off season on the defensive side of the ball and they will likely ride Kitna another year. They would probably love to add a guy like Quinn to take over for Kitna after this season (remember the excellent job Kitna did tutoring Carson Palmer), and maybe they will ask the Browns what it would take. Assuming the Browns are looking to get back into the first round of this draft, it’s just hard to see how the Lions could justify giving up a top 15ish draft pick for a luxury of a future QB when they have so many other more immediate needs on defense. I would consider the Lions to be a team with very mild interest in Quinn.

Minnesota Vikings:

QBs on Roster: Tarvaris Jackson (2008 Salary: $445,000; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.62 (19)

Other QBs: Brooks Bollinger, Kelly Holcomb

Projected Draft Position: 20-21 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: The Vikings will be a surprise player in the QB market this off season. This is a team on the rise, who with some help from Dallas can still find their way into the playoffs this year. Despite really not playing all that poorly this season, the Vikings are not sold on Tarvaris Jackson and will look for ways to improve their QB play next season. That being said, there is still talk that the Vikings do indeed like Jackson’s potential upside and perhaps they will be looking for a veteran to let Jackson get more seasoning underneath for a couple years. If that’s the case, the Vikings will enter the Donovan McNabb market. If they decide that Jackson just isn’t going to be their guy in the future, then they will at least ponder entering the DA market. With a fairly low draft pick anyway, they would conceivably at least consider making a move for DA. With a solid QB, it’s downright scary to think how good the Vikings could be with rookie sensation Adrian Peterson and with a stellar run defense. The Vikings will almost certainly look to get better QB play next season, one way or the other.

Green Bay Packers:

QBs on Roster: Brett Favre (2008 Salary: $12 million; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 3.30 (3)

Other QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Craig Nall

Projected Draft Position: 29

Prediction: With legendary Brett Favre playing some of the best football of his life, there’s really no reason for him to retire yet. But even should he choose to retire, the Packers have their guy in Aaron Rodgers, who showed a little of what he’s capable of doing when Favre went down with an injury against Dallas this season. So in a nutshell, the Packers have no interest in messing with their QB situation right now.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons:

QBs on Roster: Joey Harrington (2008 Salary: $2.5 million; Signed Through: 2008) – QB Score per Play: 1.61 (20)

Other QBs: Chris Redman, Byron Leftwich

Projected Draft Position: 2-4 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: The Falcons are the team with that 10,000 pound gorilla in the room (Mike Vick). It’s not an easy thing to overcome when you lose the face of your franchise just before the season. Adding to their frustration was the fact that they traded away prized backup Matt Schaub in the off season, leaving them perennial disappointment Joey Harrington and washed up Byron Leftwich as their only viable options this season. Leftwich was a disaster and Harrington played his typical frustrating self. The Falcons must address their QB situation this off season. The problem is, their draft pick is too high to trade to the Browns for either DA or Quinn. So while the Falcons are definitely in the market for a QB, it’s tough to see them giving up a top 4 pick for Derek Anderson.

Carolina Panthers:

QBs on Roster: Vinny Testaverde (2008 Salary: Free Agent)
Jake Delhomme (2008 Salary: $3.69 million; Signed Through: 2009)

Other QBs: Matt Moore, David Carr

Projected Draft Position: 9-12

Prediction: The Carolina Panthers served as the 2007 example of why QB depth is a premium luxury in the NFL, and why the Browns’ first choice will be to keep both DA and Brady on the team next season. As it is, looking ahead to the future for the Carolina franchise, it can be a bit tough to predict. Do they have any confidence in David Carr? Who is Matt Moore? Does Jake Delhomme have anything left? Will they bring Vinny back for his 100th NFL season? Honestly, I think the Panthers qualify as another team that would not really want DA, but would love to bring in Quinn and let him learn under Delhomme for a year or two before taking over. Are they interested enough to give up a 10-15 pick? It’s not impossible, but it’s also not likely.

New Orleans Saints:

QBs on Roster: Drew Brees (2008 Salary: $4.8 million; Signed Through: 2011) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.55 (10)

Other QBs: Jamie Martin

Projected Draft Position: 14-19

Prediction: No interest at all. Despite getting off to about as horrible of a start as you could, Drew Brees recovered in a big way and is still currently in the top 10 in the NFL in QB Score per Play. He’s the man for now in New Orleans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

QBs on Roster: Jeff Garcia (2008 Salary: $2 million; Signed Through: 2008) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.82 (7)

Other QBs: Luke McCown, Bruce Gradkowski, Chris Simms

Projected Draft Position: 22-24

Prediction: One of the best kept secrets in the NFL this season has been just how stellar Jeff Garcia has been (gulp). He has played out of his mind this season, and has the Bucs back in the playoffs. Still under contract for another season, it seems unlikely that Tampa will look to make any major moves regarding their QB position right now. Perhaps they might draft a QB this year to setup the future, but you don’t get the sense that this is a team that has any interest in trading a 1st round pick for a QB like DA or Quinn.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals:

QBs on Roster: Kurt Warner (2008 Salary: $4 million; Signed Through: 2008) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.04 (15)
Matt Leinart: (2008 Salary: $735,000; Signed Through: 2011)

Other QBs: Tim Rattay, Tim (Husband of Elisabeth) Hasselbeck

Projected Draft Position: 14-19 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: With Kurt Warner still playing slightly above average football and with Matt Leinart still looking to show his potential, the Cardinals have no interest in the Browns’ QBs.

San Francisco 49ers:

QBs on Roster: Alex Smith (2008 Salary: $2.3 million + $8 million buy-back; Singed Through: 2011)
Shaun Hill (2008 Salary: Free Agent)
Tren Dilfer (2008 Salary: $1 million + $500,000 roster bonus; Signed Through: 2008) – QB Score per Play (rank): -0.70 (33)

Other QBs: Chris Weinke

Projected Draft Position: 9

Prediction: Under Shaun Hill, the 49ers have gone from a team looking to fight for the #1 draft pick to a team who is trying to end the season on a 3 game win streak. Which really makes you wonder…will the 49ers really pick up the $8 million buy-back on former #1 overall pick Alex Smith? I’ve seen no indication otherwise, but it’s so hard for me to imagine putting over $10 million into a QB next season who has never really shown you much of anything. Why not pick up the $500k bonus on Dilfer’s contract and keep him around another year to help groom Shaun Hill if need be, and give this Hill kid a shot to be the man? Granted, Hill is about to turn 28 in January and has never shown anything in the NFL, but in the 3 games he’s played for SF he has been solid and shown some small potential. Regardless, until I hear otherwise, I will assume the Niners are sticking with Alex Smith and will sink a ton of money into him to keep him around, thus removing them as a player for the Browns’ QBs.

St. Louis Rams:

QBs on Roster: Marc Bulger (2008 Salary: $7 million; Signed Through: 2013) – QB Score per Play (rank): 0.79 (29)

Other QBs: Gus Frerotte, Brock Berlin, Todd Bouman

Projected Draft Position: 2-4 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: No matter how you look at it, 2007 was a disappointing season for the Rams. More than just disappointing, you could also call it underachieving. The Rams have some explosive talent on offense. Injuries slowed down Marc Bulger as he tried to play with broken and bruised ribs this season. Assuming he can bounce back next year, the Rams will be fine at QB and on offense in general. Look for them to hang on tight to that top 5 pick and use it on the best defensive player available. They will have zero interest in making any kind of deal with the Browns.

Seattle Seahawks:

QBs on Roster: Matt (Not Married To Elisabeth) Hasselbeck (2008 Salary: $5.75 million; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.37 (12)

Other QBs: Seneca Wallace, Chuck Frye

Projected Draft Position: 25-28

Prediction: Hasselbeck has been his usual solid self this season, the Seahawks had a solid season so far, and they already took in Chuck Frye. No chance that they look to bring in DA or BQ.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills:

QBs on Roster: Trent Edwards (2008 Salary: Terms Unknown; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.94 (16)
J.P. Losman (2008 Salary: $645,000; Signed Through: 2008)

Other QBs: Gibran Hamdan

Projected Draft Position: 14-19 (depending on tie breaker)

Prediction: All indications seem to be that the Bills are happy with Trent Edwards and now see him, and not J.P. Losman, as their QB of the future. With both Losman and Edwards due to be on the roster in 2008, the Bills will not be looking at adding a QB in this offseason.

Miami Dolphins:

QBs on Roster: Cleo Lemon (2008 Salary: Free Agent) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.07 (26)

Other QBs: John Beck (2008 Salary: $370,000; Signed Through: 2010), Trent Green

Projected Draft Position: 1

Prediction: The Dolphins are the team that started this whole post. It’s easy to see why they will be looking for a QB. Trent Green has been completely unable to stay healthy and on the field, and may yet retire from the NFL. Cleo Lemon has been underwhelmin and is a free agent anyway. In limited action, rookie John Beck has thrown 0 TDs and 3 INTs on the season. And then there’s the new sheriff in town, the Big Tuna himself, Bill Parcells. Parcells is not a patient man, and he will want to make a big splash to make his impact and influence felt immediately throughout the Miami organization. Will that really mean giving up their first overall pick in the draft for Derek Anderson? Gosh, it’s just so hard to imagine that. Were DA in the draft pool this year, even with this season under his belt, it’s still hard to picture DA being the #1 overall pick. Obviously the Browns would go for it in a heartbeat if Mr. Tuna offered it, but I’m guessing that doesn’t happen. If the Browns still had their 1st round pick, maybe it would work. But why would the Dolphins want to drop out of the first round of the draft altogether? It just doesn’t make any sense. Look for Miami to address the position via draft, free agency, or by bringing in a low cost veteran like Chad Pennington to hold things over for a year. Do not expect a deal to be done with the Browns, no matter what profootballtalk.com says.

New England Patriots:

QBs on Roster: Tom Brady (2008 Salary: $5 million + $3 million roster bonus; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 4.19 (1)

Other QBs: Matt Cassel, Matt Gutierrez

Projected Draft Position: 32

Prediction: Are you serious?

New York Jets:

QBs on Roster: Kellen Clemens (2008 Salary: $445,000; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 0.93 (28)
Chad Pennington (2008 Salary: $4.8 million; Signed Through: 2011) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.42 (23)

Other QBs: Marques Tuiasosopo

Projected Draft Position: 3-5

Prediction: The Jets like this Clemens kid. Sure, Pennington actually performed slightly better this season, but the difference is marginal enough that it makes sense for the Jets to cut Pennington and go with Clemens, especially when you consider that due to his restructured deal, Pennington’s cap charge is actually $7.8 million. Again, a team just isn’t going to give up a top 5 pick for DA and especially not for Quinn, so my best guess is that the Jets try to trade Pennington in the offseason (perhaps to the Tuna in Miami) and will give Kellen Clemens a full year to prove he can handle the starting job.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens:

QBs on Roster: Kyle Boller (2008 Salary: $2 million; Signed Through: 2008) – QB Score per Play (rank): 0.94 (27)
Steve McNair (2008 Salary: $4 million; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 0.23 (32)

Other QBs: Troy Smith

Projected Draft Position: 6-8

Prediction: You gotta love the QB mess the Ravens always seem to find themselves in. Troy Smith isn’t ready to be a starter yet, Kyle Boller has been wildly inaccurate and frankly awful his entire career, and Steve McNair is old and broken. 2007 was a horrible year for Baltimore, and a good portion of that stems from their QB play. With Boller and McNair still under contract, it’s unlikely much will change there. I’d expect them to give McNair one more year to prove he can still play and Boller one more year as a backup before they can finally get rid of him. Then, it will be Troy Smith’s turn to either prove he can play or be relegated to the bench for a long, long time. As bleak as it is, there’s no way they would even consider giving up a top 10 pick to the Browns to re-acquire a QB they foolishly let go for free anyway. Nothing is going to happen here between these two teams.

Cincinnati Bengals:

QBs on Roster: Carson Palmer (2008 Salary: $7.75 million; Signed Through: 2014) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.44 (11)

Other QBs: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jeff Rowe

Projected Draft Position: 10-13

Prediction: Carson Palmer regressed a bit this season for the first time in his young NFL career……..and he still has a chance to finish in the top 10 in the NFL in QB Score per Play this season. That’s how good Carson Palmer is. I would be scared of this talented Bengals team having this high of a draft pick, but who am I kidding….we all have seen how horrible the Bengals’ first round draft picks have been (with the exception of Palmer). Anyway, that’s beside the point. The Bengals are set at QB. No interest there.

Cleveland Browns:

QBs on Roster: Derek Anderson (2008 Salary: Restricted Free Agent) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.72 (8)

Other QBs: Brady Quinn, Ken Dorsey

Projected Draft Position: 22-24

Prediction: Ok, so I just put the Browns in here so everyone could see how DA ranks this season amongst QBs and so you can see how nicely the Browns are setup at QB. I sure do wish they had that first round draft pick, though.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

QBs on Roster: Ben Roethlisberger (2008 Salary: $1.365 million; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.33 (13)

Other QBs: Charlie Batch, Brian St. Pierre

Projected Draft Position: 25-28

Prediction: Big Ben has already won a Super Bowl, has had a great season this year, and had the Steelers as potential AFC contenders (if you forget about NE for a second) prior to Fast Willie Parker’s injury. The Steelers are thrilled with him, he seems happy to be there. No reason for change there any time soon. No interest in the Browns.

AFC South

Houston Texans:

QBs on Roster: Matt Schaub (2008 Salary: Terms Unknown; Signed Through: 2012) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.61 (9)

Other QBs: Sage Rosenfels, Shane Boyd

Projected Draft Position: 14-19

Prediction: This is another easy one. After making the move to acquire Schaub in the offseason, and with the way he has provided results, the Texans are quite content at QB for the time being.

Indianapolis Colts:

QBs on Roster: Peyton Manning (2008 Salary: $11.5 million; Signed Through: 2012) – QB Score per Play (rank): 3.10 (4)

Other QBs: Jim Sorgi

Projected Draft Position: 30-31

Prediction: See New England Patriots

Jacksonville Jaguars:

QBs on Roster: David Garrard (2008 Salary: $1.25 million; Signed Through: 2008) – QB Score per Play (rank): 3.09 (5)

Other QBs: Quinn Gray

Projected Draft Position: 28-29

Prediction: This has been an absolute breakout season for Garrard. In general, the AFC South is probably about the most stable division in terms of starting QBs with Schaub, Manning, Garrard, and Vince Young. Expect the Jags to try to work on an extension for Garrard in the offseason. They will have no interest in the Browns’ QBs.

Tennessee Titans:

QBs on Roster: Vince Young (2008 Salary: $1.5 million; Signed Through: 2011) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.33 (24)

Other QBs: Kerry Collins

Projected Draft Position: 22-24

Prediction: Vince showed his growing pains this season, and struggled for much of the season. None the less, the Titans are a win against the Colts this week away from being back in the playoffs. Vince has been a winner at every level, and Tennessee has no reason to doubt that he can win at this level, too. The Titans will not be interested in the Browns.

AFC West

Denver Broncos:

QBs on Roster: Jay Cutler (2008 Salary: $647,500; Signed Through: 2011) – QB Score per Play (rank): 2.84 (6)

Other QBs: Patrick Ramsey, Darrell Hackney

Projected Draft Position: 10-13

Prediction: If Jeff Garcia was this season’s best kept secret, then Jay Cutler was 2nd on that list. He has had an outstanding season, being topped in QB Score per Play only by Brady, Romo, Favre, Manning, and Garrard. With Cutler’s development, the Bronco’s future looks bright, and they have no need to look at other QB options.

Kansas City Chiefs:

QBs on Roster: Damon Huard (2008 Salary: $1.75 million; Signed Through: 2009) – QB Score per Play (rank): 0.77 (30)

Other QBs: Brodie Croyle

Projected Draft Position: 6-8

Prediction: Honestly, I think the Chiefs are a team that would consider making a move for DA. Both Croyle and Huard have been awful, and both are gone after 2009. They’re going nowhere with these guys. The Chiefs will look at McNabb, DA, and the draft pool. Of course, it’s always possible that they could make no change and stay the course for next season, but if you were the GM of the Chiefs, how could you not look at all your options and consider ways to improve your QBs?

Oakland Raiders:

QBs on Roster: JaMarcus Russell (2008 Salary: $3.72 million; Signed Through: 2012)

Other QBs: Josh McCown (free agent), Daunte Culpepper (free agent), Andrew Walter

Projected Draft Position: 6-8

Prediction: They have their guy for now in JaMarcus Russell. Despite having little depth behind him, they can’t give up a top 10 pick just to try to get some backup help. Look for them to sign a veteran to backup Russell next season.

San Diego Chargers:

QBs on Roster: Philip Rivers (2008 Salary: $1.265 million; Signed Through: 2010) – QB Score per Play (rank): 1.60 (21)

Other QBs: Billy Volek, Charlie Whitehurst

Projected Draft Position: 25-28

Prediction: For better or worse, they made their bed and now have to lie in it. They made their choice when they let Drew Brees go and annointed Philip Rivers as the new guy. Brees has gone on to be one of the better QBs in the NFL while Rivers has been erratic and inconsistent while struggling at times to get along with teammates. That being said, the Chargers are stuck with him and they did go 14-2 with him last year and are headed back to the playoffs this year, so it’s not all bad. As long as the team is winning and going to the playoffs, they will not be considering any other QB options.

Summary

First off, here are the free agents this offseason at QB: Derek Anderson, Rex Grossman, Daunte Culpepper, Josh McCown, Quinn Gray, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Henson, Cleo Lemon, Jared Lorenzen, and Jamie Martine. If a team is looking to sign a big free agent QB, they just aren’t out there to be had. DA is the best option. Which is why he will be an intriguing option for teams desperate to bolster their QB stable.

Here are Mel Kiper’s top QBs in the draft as of now: Matt Ryan, Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco, Colt Brennan, and Andre Woodson. Scouts, Inc ranks the top 10 QBs as: Matt Ryan, Brian Brohm, Andre Woodson, Chad Henne, Joe Flacco, Dennis Dixon, John David Booty, Joshua Johnson, Colt Brennan, and Eric Ainge. Are any of these guys going to take over right away and be franchise QBs? It’s so hard to say. How can anyone really ever predict these things? It’s such a volatile marketplace.

Which goes to why I believe DA has to be an interesting option for teams. You’ve at least seen what you’re getting with DA. The rest of the free agents are either old or underproducing. The draft picks are a crapshoot. If I were a GM and knew I was going to be drafting a QB in the 1st round, I would give some serious consideration to just giving up the pick to sign DA. A lot would depend on my draft position, but I would have to give it due dilligence and at least look into it. Hopefully this list will give you something to think about as we consider which teams will be thinking about making a run for one of the Browns’ QBs.

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Jensen LewisIndians’ Reliever Talks All Things Christmas (Including Mariah Carey)

In case you missed it, the Cleveland Indians’ website featured a brief yet entertaining Q and A session with relief pitcher Jensen Lewis this week, in which he discussed his favorite Christmas artifacts.

Some of the highlights included Jensen professing his love for the greatest Christmas movie of all time (with all due respect to Christmas Vacation), “A Christmas Story”, as well as Jensen talking about his favorite Christmas song, which somehow turns out to be a Mariah Carey song. I don’t know, you try to figure that one out.

Anyway, it’s fun to also read about how Jensen is now able to be a better Santa now that he’s making real MLB money. Here are some highlights from the article:

MLB.com:What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Lewis: “A Christmas Story.” I’m a huge, huge fan of that. You’ve got to watch it on Christmas Eve. It makes going to bed a little easier, knowing everybody’s happy in the end. And it was filmed in Cleveland, so there’s a little hometown flavor.

MLB.com: How about your favorite Christmas song?

Lewis: Actually, a good one — and this is going to be embarrassing — is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

MLB.com: I don’t know what to do with that information. What’s the best present you ever received?

Lewis: Probably Sega. The first year it came out, my brother and I played the original “Sonic the Hedgehog” game in the story, and we said we’d give up the rest of our Christmas presents for that. But my dad didn’t like video games, so he said, “I don’t think we’re going to do this.” We were praying to God, “Please, please bring a Sega for us.”

We were opening all our gifts and getting down to the end, and there were no big boxes left, and we were like, “All right, Santa, we don’t believe in you anymore.” But leave it to my mom to hide something. She brought it out from under the kitchen counter or somewhere. We opened it up and played the rest of the day for 12 hours straight. I think we beat the game in one day.

MLB.com: That’s very reminiscent of the Red Rider BB Gun gift from “A Christmas Story.” Now that you’ve got some of that big league money in your pocket, what kind of gift-giver will you be this year?

Lewis: I think I’ll be able to be more flexible. I won’t be as strapped. It gives you a little more calmness. You go into the offseason knowing you’re not going to be under the gun on a Minor League salary. It will be nice. I’ll be a good Santa this Christmas.”

Cleveland Browns ChristmasWishing A Very Merry Christmas To All Ye Faithful Readers

Merry Christmas to everyone out there! Hopefully you are all able to spend the holiday season with your family, friends, and/or those you love. The Christmas Season is always a time to put sports into their proper perspective, and so I will be spending time with my family and as a result my posts will continue to be limited for most of this week.

I would like to thank everyone who has been reading this site. When I started in October, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but y’all have made this a great experience so far. Here’s to more big things in the future, here’s to the health and success of you, your families, and the Cleveland sports teams, and here’s to the Indianapolis Colts reserves!

Larry HughesDespite Local Rumors, Hughes Unlikely To Go Anywhere

In case you missed it today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had this little gem buried on their sports page: The Cavaliers have been talking to a couple teams about trading struggling guard Larry Hughes. According to Branson Wright,

“Larry Hughes’ time with the Cavaliers might be just about over. According to several league sources, the Cavs have contacted several teams about a deal involving the 6-5 guard.

One source said the Washington Wizards are one of those teams and another source said another team is in the Atlantic Division.

The trade deadline is Feb. 21.

“Hughes will be gone way before then,” said one source, who did not want to be identified.”

The line about iot being an Atlantic Division team is an interesting one, for sure. Were it 2 years ago, I would bet the team would be the New York Knicks. Larry would be a perfect fit for those Knicks teams, an overpaid and underproducing pseudo-star. But with the intense scrutiny and pressure that Isiah Thomas is under in New York right now, it seems unlikely he would make a move for Larry Hughes right now. You can count out Boston and Toronto, as neither team makes any sense whatsoever. That leaves New Jersey and Philadelphia, and more importantly, Jason Kidd and Andre Miller.

Let reality set in for a minute, though. Larry Hughes is not going anywhere. The Cavaliers front office can “shop” Larry Hughes around all they want. It doesn’t change the fact that nobody is going to take on a player who is shooting 32% from the field, averaging 9.8 ppg and 1.9 turnovers per game, has a 7.95 efficiency rating, and makes $12 million per year.

Brian Windhorst of the Akron Beacon-Journal doesn’t seem to think there are any active players in the Larry Hughes market, saying,

“According to several league sources, the Cavs have been calling around to investigate the trade market. They are not directly shopping any players — more getting a sense of who could be available. Most teams are in this mode right now.”

In the end, I’m sure the Cavs are probably begging teams to take Larry Hughes off their hands. It doesn’t mean the teams are seriously considering it. Don’t put too much stock or hope into that throwaway line about the Atlantic Division being in there. The Nets are not going to trade Jason Kidd for Larry Hughes, unless LeBron James is included in the deal. If there is a serious Atlantic Division trade partnet, I would keep an eye on the Sixers as the Cavs may try to see what it would take to get Andre Miller. The Cavs will volunteer Hughes for the deal, and after the Sixers are done laughing, they will consider a more realstic deal, perhaps involving guys like Damon Jones, Eric Snow, and Drew Gooden. Even then, I suspect any kind of trade would be a long shot because the Sixers will always be able to get a better deal for Andre Miller elsewhere.

The only kind of I could foresee involving the Washington Wizards and Larry Hughes would be a deal involving Antawn Jamison and his $16 million contract. Hughes and Damon Jones for Jamison is a deal the Cavs would definitely do from their end. From the Wizards point of view, if they suspect they will be unable to re-sign Jamison after this season, that could be some slight motivation to do the deal, as it would be a way to get a little something for losing Jamison. Furthermore, Larry Hughes and Gilbert Arenas are good friends, and Arenas has spoken publicly about his enjoyment of playing with Hughes, so perhaps the Wizards would see the addition of Hughes as a way of strengthening their case to Arenas as far as why he should stay with the team and not opt out of his deal.

It’s all likely just wishful thinking, though. Plus, after watching the Cavaliers play lately, it’s hard to believe that just adding a PG like Kidd or Miller would be the sole answer to the Cavs problems. Perhaps a dynamic offensive player like Jamison could be the answer, but it’s also easy to see Jamison falling into the role of Larry Hughes II. The truth of the matter is that the Cavs are so clearly more than just one “piece of the puzzle” away from being a real NBA Championship caliber team. That’s why it is so hard to quantify just what exactly the franchise can do to turn this team around.  It will be interesting to watch and see if moving Hughes becomes ‘Step One’ of the rebuilding phase, but I won’t be holding my breath.

DA DejectedBrowns Turnover Control Of Their Own Destiny To Tennessee

What’s the operative word of the day to describe this game? Debacle? Choke-job? Disgraceful? Unfocused? Unprepared? Lackadaisical? Pretty much any of these words, and any similar ones you might think of pretty much sums up the pathetic performance the Browns put forth against the Bengals in Cincinnati yesterday, falling 19-14. More importantly, the Browns surrendered control of their own destiny. It rendered this week’s game against San Francisco completely meaningless, as now the Browns simply need Tennessee to lose to the Colts. Titans win, they’re in…Colts win, Browns are in. Peyton Manning just picked up a lot of new fans for a week.

Going back to this Bengals game, you often hear teams say their opponents didn’t beat them, that they beat themselves. Normally, I think that’s a bunch of junk. But in this case, you can kind of understand it. The Bengals showed why they’re having such a down year, being unable to score any 2nd half points to cushion their 19-0 halftime lead. In the last 2 minutes of the 1st half, Derek Anderson threw 2 interceptions (1 because his intended receiver, Jason Wright, decided to duck out of the way of the ball rather than catch it…the other because of an absolutely terrible throw in which DA tried to do too much to make up for his earlier turnover), both of which the Bengals were able to capitalize on and score TDs to push the midway lead from 6-0 to 19-0. That was the difference in the game.

The Browns would make a run at it in the 2nd half, despite 2 more redzone interceptions by Derek Anderson. On 2 other occasions, DA would find Braylon Edwards for a TD, bringing the score to 19-14. Then, on the final Browns possession, DA found Braylon right away for a quick 40 yard gain into Cincinnati territory…….only to have it called on a phantom offensive pass interference call. I’m not sure what, exactly, the refs saw on that play, but I suppose they just assumed since Braylon was so open at such a critical moment in the game, that he MUST have pushed off or something. That’s the only thing I can figure at this point. After having that play called back, the Browns tried to move the ball down the field by making a series of 10 yard passes into the middle of the field, killing the clock and taking their jolly time along the way. It was one of the worst 2 minute offense executions I have ever seen. In the end, it left the Browns with one chance to lob the ball into the end zone, and even then DA could only muster a half hearted throw in the general vicinity of K2. All in all, it was a miserable game in which the Browns looked overwhelmingly tight with the pressure of what was riding on this game.

The positives of this game were few and far between. Jamal Lewis had a decent game, going for 92 yards on 21 carries for a 4.4 yards/carry average. Had the Browns not found themselves in a 19 point hole, Lewis obviously would have had another big game against the Bengals. K2 and Braylon each had nice games. Not great games, but nice games. The Browns 2nd half defense played excellent, coming up with big turnovers in huge moments when the team needed them the most. They made Carson Palmer look pretty pedestrian for 99% of the game (Palmer still made an amazing throw on TJ Whosyomomma’s TD).

The negatives….You have to start with Derek Anderson.  You can’t help but feel like had DA thrown JUST three interceptions instead of four, the Browns would have won this game. It’s just too hard to overcome the damage of 4 interceptions, especially when the defense quickly allows 2 of them to turn into 13 points in the span of 30 seconds. Which brings us to negative #2, the Browns’ first half defense, in particular the rush defense. This unit was totally ineffective at stopping the run, allowing Kenny Watson to put up 99 yards rushing in the first half alone. Furthermore, even in the 4th quarter when the Browns needed the ball back and they knew full well the Bengals would be running the ball to run out the clock, the Browns showed no ability to stop them at all, no matter how many guys were loaded into the box. Only a fortunate fumble allowed the Browns to get the ball back without the Bengals putting any more points on the board. Finally, negative #3 from this game, the coaching. It was bad enough that the team came out looking this flat and this uninspired and this overwhelmed. But the worst coaching decision of the day, in my opinion, was the decision to go for it on 4th and a long 1 from the Bengals’ 19 yard line in the first half after a Leigh Bodden interception. The Browns got stopped for no gain on the play and had to turnover the ball. I understand that it was windy and that they had already botched their first field goal hold, but if you can go for a 49 yard field goal in the midst of a blinding blizzard last week, I fail to see why you can’t attempt a 36 yard field goal yesterday. Phil Dawson has come up huge for this team time and again all season, and had he made that field goal, who knows how differently the game might have turned out with the Browns only needing a FG on the last possession to tie the game (I’m going to go ahead and assume the Bengals would have kicked the PAT rather than go for 2 if the score was 19-3 rather than 19-0). Although, in retrospect, I suppose it doesn’t really matter if Romeo Crennel is scared to kick a 36 yard FG, who knows how close the Browns would have had to have gotten before Romeo would have allowed them to try to tie the game.

At the end of the day, this was just a poor effort on the Browns’ part. Kudos to the Bengals, they won, but that was not a football team that scares anyone. Had the Browns played the way they have the last few weeks (not stellar, but average), you can’t help but feel like they would have walked out of Paul Brown Stadium (ugh) a winner. So now, we sit through this Christmas season waiting and hoping for a belated Christmas present in the form of a Browns playoff spot.

Jamal LewisJamal Lewis having big season, but does this warrant big money over big years?

Jamal Lewis has been everything the Browns were hoping he could be, and then some. The questions over what Jamal had left in the tank coming into this season were fair. After all, despite being young in years, he was old in experience. In an offensive system in Baltimore that never featured a QB capable of being anything more than a game manager, Jamal was heavily used in Baltimore, and with no threat of a passing game, opposing defenses ganged up on Jamal. When you add this to Jamal’s natural bruising, overpowering running style, it adds up to a lot of hard mileage. It’s like the difference between a car with 50,000 highway miles and a car with 50,000 inner city stop and go miles.

The Ravens were doubtful enough of Jamal’s skills that they moved on to Plan B and brought in Willis McGahee and let Jamal Lewis walk out the door. The Browns, desperate for a feature back, decided to sign Jamal to a one year deal and let him prove that there was still life in him. The move has paid major dividends for both the Browns and Jamal. The Browns have been able to ride Jamal’s late season resurgance into a  possible playoff run. Jamal, meanwhile, has been able to prove that he can still be an integral part of a playoff caliber team.

Jamal has proven to be an old school hard nosed RB in the mold of the great RBs in Browns history. He has endeared himself to the fans, and the fans have endeared themselves to Jamal. Of the Browns fans, Jamal has said,

“I love the fans here. They’re totally different [than in Baltimore].”

“Just due to the history they have here with the Browns. The history goes way back and you can tell. They are louder, but just the fan support period. Being on the road, you see a lot of Browns jerseys in the stands. We need that support.

“It translates [to the field] because we want to go out and play hard and win. It’s great. That’s what we owe our home record to.”

This Browns-Jamal marriage is starting to look like a perfect match. But the real question is, should the Browns sign Jamal to a long term deal after this season? Phil Savage has his work cut out on this one.

Jamal has said recently that he’s be perfectly content signing a string of 1 year deals to keep playing for the Browns. The Plain Dealer’s Bud Shaw, though, isn’t so sure he really would, writing:

“Negotiations with Jamal Lewis can’t be as easy as he made them sound recently when he suggested coming to terms was no more complicated than a page out of a children’s book.

See Jamal run. See Jamal sign.

Quoth the ex-Raven: “Hey, I’ll do one-year deals all day long.”

If this were true, of course, Phil Savage would tell Lewis to pick a day, any day.

Today’s not good for you, Jamal? Then how about tomorrow?

Morning. Noon. Night. Three a.m. Just call ahead.

Savage would send a car. All he’d ask is for Lewis to tell the driver to step on it and don’t stop if Lewis’ agent stands in front of the limo like that protester in Tiananmen Square.

Lewis says he isn’t necessarily looking for a one-year deal. No one would. But he wouldn’t flat reject it. All in all, he trusts his agent will put him in the best position.

There’s always that catch.”

I’m not so sure it’s quite that simple. Sure, if Jamal wants a one year deal, the Browns would give it to him. But part of the GM’s job is also to look at the team’s future. The Browns can’t afford to be caught with their pants down if Jamal were to suffer a serious injury or if he were to no longer be productive next season.

No matter how you look at it, Jamal is having a big year. In terms of RB Score (after Week 14), Jamal ranks 11th in the NFL in RB Score per game. Using Football Outsiders’ metric DPAR (defense-adjusted points above replacement), Jamal ranks a surprisingly low 19th in the NFL. But if you go by the only stat that really matters, rushing yards, Jamal is 7th in the NFL with 1,084 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry. He is on pace to finish with 1,239 yards, making this his best season since his Herculean 2003 season in which he rushed for an astounding 2,066 yards.

Some legit questions remain, though. Perhaps his low DPAR ranking is telling us something. If you look further, prior to rushing for over 100 yards in 3 of his last 4 games, Jamal had only topped the century mark once, Week 2 against the Bengals. Another concern with signing Jamal to a long term deal is his high number of career rushing attempts. Despite being only 28 years old, Jamal is already 28th in NFL history in attempts with 2,073 carries, just ahead of Roger Craig, Gerald Riggs, and Herschel Walker. Granted, LaDainian Tomlinson is ahead of him in carries and shows no sign of slowing down, but the only other active RBs with more carries are all guys well past their prime (Edgerrin James, Warrick Dunn, Fred Taylor, and Shaun Alexander). The active RBs just behind are also mostly guys past their prime (Ahman Green, Ricky Williams, Clinton Portis, Thomas Jones, Travis Henry, Rudi Johnson, Deuce McAllister, Michael Pittman). The fact of the matter is, rushing attempts are historically a pretty good way to gauge how much a RB has left, and Jamal is in the company of guys who are running out of gas.

Of course, if the Browns are really going to even think about not re-signing Jamal, there needs to be a replacement in mind. With no first round draft pick and the need to draft defensive players anyway, the Browns would need to turn to the Unrestricted Free Agent market (because the Browns do not have a 1st round pick, they cannot sign a Restricted Free Agent as they lack the required compensation). The top UFA’s next year will be Michael Turner, Julius Jones, Fred Taylor, Justin Fargas, and Chris Brown. The question is, which of those guys would you rather have than Jamal Lewis next year?

The only RBs that I think the Browns would consider would be Fred Taylor and Michael Turner. First off, Taylor probably isn’t going anywhere. It’s hard to fathom Jacksonville not hanging onto him for another year (despite the emergence of Maurice Jones-Drew). Michael Turner is going to be the desired prize of every team in the free agent market. He is going to carry a heavy price tag, despite the fact he has not proven he can be a feature back and carry the load by himself.

Ultimately, with no sure fire alternatives, I would expect the Browns to try to sign Jamal to a 2 year deal with a team option for a 3rd year. This will give the Browns a relatively affordable option at RB who will give the team some stability while they look for the long term solution at that position. There’s no real reason not to bring Jamal back at least for one more year. The Browns will almost certainly talk to Michael Turner and see what kind of deal it will take to sign him, but with such a shallow RB pool, I think his price tag will be too high for the Browns. The bottom line is, I expect to see Jamal as the Brown’s starting RB next season.

Several Browns Players Unjustly Left Off Pro Bowl Roster

The NFL has announced the Pro Bowl rosters. In typical Cleveland fashion, key members of the 9-5 Browns team were left off the team.

Starting with who DID make it, WR Braylon Edwards is a reserve and KR Josh Cribbs made it. That’s it. Inexplicably left out were Eric Steinbach, Joe Thomas, and Kellen Winslow.  Vic Carucci thinks Derek Anderson should have made it also.

I complained a few weeks ago about the fans’ voting. I never imagined the players and coaches voting would be even more insane. More later once I’ve collected my thoughts on this injustice.

Congrats to Braylon and Josh, though.

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