Romeo Crennel and Phil SavageBrowns GM Says Extensions Coming

Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today that GM Phil Savage is working on a contract extension for head coach Romeo Crennel (is it just me, or does Mary Kay seem to be much more on the ball than Tony Grossi these days?). There was no mention of length of the possible extension, but Savage is open to options. As Mary Kay writes,

“The Browns plan to extend the contract of coach Romeo Crennel, as early as the next few days, Browns general manager Phil Savage said during his post-season news conference today in Berea.

“We have every intention of doing something with Romeo and we’ll do right by him,” said Savage. “Hopefully it will be addressed in the next few days. If not, then in the next few weeks.”

Savage said he’s open to options, including a multi-year extension. Crennel is under contract for two more seasons.”

On its surface, this would seem to squash my conspiracy theory that Rob Chudzinski is being groomed to eventually take over the reigns from Crennel. RAC still needs a lot of improvement as a tactical coach, but he’s proven that his connections to his players are his strong point. These players will play their hearts out for Crennel, and you can’t say that for all coaches. RAC is still growing, still relatively inexperienced as a head coach, and for now that’s fine. But with an extension, the pressure will be on. The Browns must show improvement next season and anything short of a spot in the playoffs will be totally unacceptable.

I’m also going to go out on a limb and keep my Chudzinski theory alive as well. Crennel is currently under contract for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. I have a funny feeling the Browns will give Crennel a 2 year extension through 2011, which also happens to be the year Chudzinski’s recent extension runs out. But alas, at the end, perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

The other newsworthy story in the article is that Savage is also planning on signing DA to an extension. According to Savage,

“We have a couple of different options for Derek. We’re more apt to want to do something with Derek that would take him beyond the 2008 season. We want to go into next season with both of our quarterbacks, plus Ken Dorsey intact. We want to make sure we stay strong at that position for at least one more year.”

Um…..what?!? A couple thoughts on this. First, why are you more apt to do something with DA beyond 2008? There’s no need to. You have all the options in the world. Why eliminate all the options on your own? Why not let this play out and see if anyone makes you any offers for DA? As I have said before, the smart thing to do is to max tender DA for next season. If someone wants to give up their 1st and 3rd round picks for him, you consider it. If you don’t want the picks, you match the offer. If after 2008, you still want DA and you can’t immediately re-sign him, you can use your franchise tag on him. I do not understand what the rush is and why Savage feels the need to forfeit all of his options.

The second thing that comes to mind is when Savage says ‘We want to go into next season with both of our quarterbacks, plus Ken Dorsey intact. We want to make sure we stay strong at that position for at least one more year.’ Well, under the plan I outlined, you do precisely that. That’s the beauty of it…you can go into next season with the same group of QBs if you want, but at least it leaves you with flexibility as it continues to play out. There’s no need whatsoever to rush this.

I will say this, though. Phil Savage has earned the benefit of the doubt. He’s made so many great moves since taking over and he has the team heading in the right direction. So for now, he’s gets this common courtesy from me. I will wait and see what happens. Savage is a better talent evaluator than I am, and he must see something more in DA than I do that is causing him to want to sign DA now before his price tag is driven up too high.

One final thought on this, though. If DA really is signed to a long term extension, then Brady Quinn better go on the trade block quickly. The Browns gave up too much to move back into the first round last year to take Quinn to get nothing in return. I talked a while back about some teams who may have an interest in upgrading their QB, and most of those still hold. There will be some teams that would consider taking Quinn and giving up a little something in return. Savage said after day one of the draft last year that if the Browns were ever going to turn the corner, that draft was going to be the key component. Well, it’s looking like that’s the case, only not entirely in the way he thought. Rather than becoming the franchise QB he envisioned, Quinn is becoming little more than trade value riding on the Browns’ bench.

I’m definitely in favor of keeping the options open at QB for now, but if DA is signed long term, that changes everything. I understand injuries can happen in the NFL and having a viable backup is invaluable, but the team just simply gave up too much for Quinn for him to just be a backup. So I will defer to Savage’s better judgment for now, but I am making it known that I am very, very skeptical of this move.


Coach Chud Going NowhereBrowns Extend Offensive Coordinator’s Contract, Chudzinski Declines Ravens’ Interview Offer

In what can only be described as a most fortunate turn of events, the Cleveland Browns have given offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski an extension, and Coach Chud has turned down the Baltimore Ravens’ request to interview him for their vacant head coaching position.

The story appears in the Baltimore Sun, where Jamison Hensley writes,

“Cleveland offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski won’t interview for the Ravens’ head coaching vacancy today because he got a contract extension from the Browns, a league source said.

Chudzinski joins Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as coaches who have removed themselves from the Ravens’ list.”

This is great news for the Cleveland Browns organization. Not only does it solidify the Browns’ offensive system for the next year, it also gives the Browns the option of handing the team over to Coach Chud in 2 years should they decide that Romeo Crennel is not the man for the job. Now that Coach Chud is going to be sticking around, it should be interesting to see if the Browns extend Coach Crennel’s contract.

Chudzinski, a native of Toledo, Ohio who grew up rooting for the Browns, could be in a situation where the team is grooming him to be their next head coach, similar to the Jason Garrett situation with the Dallas Cowboys. Two years ago Coach Chud turned down a chance to call plays for LaDainian Tomlinson to come home to the Browns, despite the fact he would be joining an offense that was inept at best and a coach who was expected to be on the hot seat by week 5. Instead, he revamped the offense and turned it into one of the NFL’s elite offenses, even despite the fact he was using a discarded QB whom the Browns picked up off waivers. Chudzinski has shown a great mind for football and a vision that is neccessary to be a successful coach. So it is not out of the realm of possibilities that the Browns are looking to eventually hand the team over to Chudzinski, and that could be why he turned down the Ravens’ interview offer.

Or else he simply turned it down because it was the decent thing to do, knowing full well he wouldn’t accept the job and/or he was an outsider at best in the odds of winning the job. But a small part of me still can’t help but think, why not interview? It would be good practice for when he’s ready to really interview for jobs. It would seem he has every reason in the world to interview if his aspirations are to someday be a head coach somewhere else. But if the Browns’ organization’s internal plans are to eventually have Chudzinski take over the team, then there would be no reason to interview.

Either way, this is a good day for the Browns, and for now we can leave all speculation behind. For once, the Browns look to be returning their coaching staff in tact from the previous season…a sign of cohesiveness and stability that has long been lacking in this organization.