“A quarterback-needy and starved-for-relevance team like Cleveland”

by Matt Borcas on February 15, 2013

Matt Borcas is a second-year journalism student at Ohio State, a Mentor, Ohio native who recently emerged from a field of 4,000 competitors to land a part-time job writing about the NFL for ESPN’s Grantland. Matt’s weekly Browns-centric column on the NFL Draft will run here all the way up to draft weekend and through its immediate aftermath. Today, he explores the weeds in which the Browns incredibly remain with respect to the most important position on the football field.

—————

Forgive me if I sound like I’ve popped a molly or two, for the great Walter Football has Ziggy Ansah slotted to the Browns in his latest mock draft. Life has been a whirlwind ever since. “Why not Ansah?,” coos Walter, officially raising my hopes to pie-in-the-sky levels for the Browns to land the 6-6, 274 lb. edge rusher. Playing the role of Debbie Downer is National Football Post mock drafter Russ Lande, who, perversely, had the nerve to give Ansah to the Jaguars in his 2/11 update. Whatever – sticks and stones may break my bones, but mock drafts will never hurt me, at least ones published before the Combine.

And as much as I’d like to drone on extolling the virtues of Ziggy, there are bigger fish to fry today. Case in point: When we last checked in with the Browns’ interminable search for a franchise quarterback, I hypothesized, based on hours upon hours of analyzing Mike Lombardi’s journal entries and interviews from 2008-2012, that Ryan Mallet was in line to steal Brandon Weeden’s job.

On Sunday, The Notorious M.K.C. dismissed my theory (“The Browns aren’t expected to pursue New England backup Ryan Mallett,” she wrote, without further elaboration), which prompted Kanicki to dismiss her dismissal in painstaking detail. Still, let’s say Mallet is off the table. Where to now?

Disney World, according to Peter King, where Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is living it up with Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, et al.

King writes:

Was it only me listening to Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti and trusted GM Ozzie Newsome the other day, thinking they’re going to throw the first big changeup into this offseason? Was it only me taking their words and reading resolve in them, and thinking it’s actually possible that Joe Flacco could be stolen by a quarterback-needy and starved-for-relevance team like Cleveland?

These are the words King is “reading resolve” in:

Bisciotti:

“We’ve proven it two years in a row that we can kind of shock the world and disappoint our fans at the same time, by letting some of these guys go, but letting young guys fill in and then going out and getting good values on the free-agent market.”

Newsome:

“We will not repeat what we did in 2001 [after winning the Super Bowl, when Baltimore restructured and overspent to make one more run at a title]. We’re trying to build where we can win Super Bowls more than just one more time. I think our team is structured differently this time also. We do have some veterans that will probably be retiring but we have a great nucleus of young players and players that are just heading into their prime that we’re going to build this team around.”

From this, King surmises that the Ravens will franchise-tag Flacco, yet refuse to match subsequent offer sheets from the Browns (led by “uber-aggressive president Joe Banner,” as King calls him) or anyone else. Personally, I find this scenario more far-fetched than Banner being named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive – if Newsome is “trying to build where [the Ravens] can win Super Bowls more than just one more time,” wouldn’t he want to keep the 28 year-old quarterback whose unprecedented playoff run won them this Super Bowl? Considering Newsome’s excellent track record (and the theme of Bisciotti’s football brain trust sleepover scheduled for this weekend), I’d be shocked if Flacco didn’t have a new Ravens contract by March 4.

Hypothetically, though, if Flacco did become available, signing him would be a no-brainer. (Sorry, Ziggy – the Ravens would then get the Browns’ 2013 and 2014 first round picks.) This is worth mentioning because it reflects so poorly on Weeden. Obviously, the Colts, Redskins, and Seahawks – other teams that started a rookie QB last season – wouldn’t dare surrender a single first round pick for Flacco, let alone two. (I don’t think the Dolphins would either, but that’s a murkier situation.) Moreover, it’s exceptionally rare for a team to give up on a first round QB after just one year – even the Raiders let JaMarcus Russell stick around for three! But due to Weeden’s inability to scramble, inability to audible, nonexistent pocket presence, and especially troubling inability to locate and deliver to wide open receivers (as reflected, of course, in his 35th-ranked Total QBR) there’s a strong case to be made for abandoning him, whether it’s for Flacco (not happening), Mallett, or someone in the draft, making the local lionization of Tom Heckert all the more confusing.

In Michael Holley’s tidbit-laden book War Room, we discover that Bill Belichick warned Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff against trading up to No. 6 overall, the Browns’ pick, for Julio Jones in 2011. “Thomas, I’m just telling you as a friend, I wouldn’t do it,” advised Belichick mere hours before the draft. This isn’t surprising – The Hoodie’s drafting philosophy has always been predicated on value, and dealing two firsts, a second, and two fourths for the draft’s second-best receiver is the exact opposite of recouping bang for your buck. Dimitroff’s rationale, per Holley, was that the Falcons were one “impact player” away from championship contention, and that Jones would fill this need. Alternatively, the Browns were about 10-50 impact players short of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy in 2011, so while the Falcons added the game-breaker Jones to their array, the Browns would stockpile talent to a roster largely devoid of it. A win-win, right?

Perhaps in theory only, to the extent we have to judge trades on their results, and not the thought processes that went into making them. Here is what the Browns got in return for Julio Jones:

  • 2011 Round 1, Pick 21: Phil Taylor
  • 2011 Round 2, Pick 59: Greg Little
  • 2011 Round 4, Pick 124: Owen Marecic
  • 2012 Round 1, Pick 22: Brandon Weeden
  • 2012 Round 4, Pick 120: James-Michael Johnson

In essence: an above-average defensive tackle; a decent, physical wideout; a butterfingered fullback; a bust-y looking quarterback; a promising linebacker. Because the 2012 first rounder was the deal’s centerpiece, hitting on it was crucial to “winning” the trade. Instead, all we got was this elderly, elephantine quarterback. Advantage: Dimitroff.

Yes, Heckert did draft well in other places, particularly along the defensive line. He is, undeniably, the best GM this incarnation of the Browns has ever had, but that’s like calling Slider our city’s best mascot. More than anything, his reputation benefits from the failures of his predecessors, and he’ll ultimately be remembered for not bringing RG3 to Cleveland and settling on Weeden as an adequate replacement.

Prospect of the Week

After extensive research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the stars are aligned in such a way that ensures my favorite college players will end up on professional teams I hate. (Exception to the rule: Brady Quinn.) As such, I expect the Ravens to select Manti Te’o, who’ll seamlessly transition into the defensive beast/spiritual leader void left by Ray Lewis. Would it stun anyone if Newsome planted the Lennay Keukua story so that Te’o would fall to Baltimore? Just saying. Anyway, read my brilliant endorsement of Te’o for the Heisman Trophy, and conveniently ignore the reference to his dead girlfriend. He isn’t the best option for the Browns at 6, but he’d make a great one.

  • trashycamaro

    100% agree with you on Heckert. The most important thing for an NFL team is a QB who you can run out on a week to week basis in good faith. GM’s and coaches live and die with that pick (see Andy Reid’s genius following McNabb/Vick career arcs; Belichick with Testaverde followed by Belichick with Brady; Dungy/Polian with Manning; etc.)

    You can scheme around any position besides QB.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      the getting of a QB may be the most important thing but other things like d-backs who tackle, guards who dont miss starts in four years, and ILBs who provide cover for decrepit icons are, in the aggregate, more important.

      i think the simplistic ‘get a qb talk’ narrative bothers me as much as or more than the premise of ‘MKC, browns expert.’ such talk does not acknowledge the many contributors to a QB’s success and at the same time ignores the difficulty of finding that special QB (as demonstrated by our list of starting QBs since 1999 which i wont cut/paste here).

      we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the pat shurmur under-center Short Pass Offense was not a system that emphasized weeden’s strengths and further has no record of success anywhere ever.

      this ‘get a QB’ idea is very much like taking the money you saved for the last two years to the horseshoe roulette table and betting it all on a single number. it’d be exactly like it if roulette tables had 22 squares.

      • Bryan

        Totally agree with Kanick here. Even if we could sign Flacco, the cost is insanely high. We still need other pieces, so this makes ZERO sense in my book.

        The best teams (as evidenced by the quote from Belichick) understand that patient accumulation of “value” picks (rather than a panicked search for a particular position regardless of value) is the golden path to long-term success.

        The other issue here is that both Banner and Haslam have said they will not make “splashy” moves in free agency, and will continue to build through the draft. These rumors of Flacco and Wallace are totally baseless, make no sense, and are really annoying. The team will probably add a veteran 3-4 rushing LB, depth at CB and maybe a veteran 3rd WR to help Little/Gordon. And if BanBardi somehow actually blow our load on Flacco (or Wallace, as was “rumored” last week) I will be very depressed.

        • Petefranklin

          Veteran WR to help the young WR’s is a must. That will be one of my criteria for judging the new regime. It should have happened last year with Deon Branch but was not in the equation.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            im not in favor of chasing a WR, but if i were, i could see boldin becoming available and wouldnt mind him on our team.

          • Petefranklin

            We would have to overpay for him but i’d be for signing him if we could. The influence he would have on our young WR’s would be well worth it IMO. Who knows, with a decent offensive coordinator and a vet WR, Weeden might actually shape up.

      • Matt Borcas

        When you talk about “[ignoring] the difficulty of finding that special QB”, you fail to note that, because of ATL’s first rounder, Heckert was in a much better position than any other GM to trade up with the Rams for No. 2, thus making the acquisition of RG3, special QB, not very difficult at all. Alas, Heckert lowballed the Rams and botched it, which paved the way for Weeden, who may become the only first round QB in recent memory to be given up on after just one year.

        The Julio trade, Heckert’s other big move, was clearly a win for the Falcons. (Would the Browns trade Weeden, Little, Taylor, Marecic, and JMJ for Julio? Of course they would: http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Friday-Buzz-Flaccos-deal-Weedens-future-more.html )

        Bearing all that in mind, I don’t think Heckert did as good of a job as others think.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          i just don’t agree. don’t agree the one player is worth five.
          you can’t project jujones stats onto the browns who have not matt ryan or roddy white or tony gonzalez and say ‘look what we missed out on.’ it’s equally possible that josh gordon would be a national darling if he were in the two years into the falcons’ offense.
          you can’t project RG3 impact onto the browns who have not mike shannahan to adapt an offense to emphasize his players’ unique strengths and also fail to consider that absent mitchell schwartz, the browns’ rich tradition of overpaid-underperforming RTs (shaeffer, stclair, pashos) would have created unique difficulties for RG3 to overcome.

          i feel in the minority on both but i would make the jujones deal again and i applaud heckert-holmgren for assigning a value to the RG3 pick and staying with it.* by doing the jujones deal and not doing the rg3 deals, the browns plugged holes at wr, dt, qb, rb, rt, wr, plus this year’s #6 pick.

          * holmgren’s post-deal whining notwithstanding.

          • Matt Borcas

            Of course you can’t project Julio or RG3’s exact stats onto the Browns – no one is saying you can. To an extent, though, you can project what their impact on the Browns would be vis-a-vis Little, Weeden, etc.

            Oh, and I would definitely make the Julio trade again, too. As I said, the deal should have been a win-win, because it SHOULD have netted the Browns RG3. The Browns ended up “losing” the trade because of what they did (or failed to do) with the assets they got in return.

            Also, I think you’re giving undue credit to Heckert for “assigning a value to the RG3 pick and staying with it.” By all accounts, they considered him to be just as valuable as the Redskins did.

            http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7668243/washington-redskins-acquire-no-2-overall-pick-st-louis-rams

          • http://twitter.com/ChrisInCLE Chris Mc

            “you can project what their impact on the Browns would be vis-a-vis Little, Weeden, etc.”

            I summarily disagree with this. Shurmur would have had Jones running 6 yard slants just like everyone else, and RG3 would have been throwing them, and everyone in Cleveland would be calling them both a bust.

            If Shurmur refused to tailor anything but an antiquated Bill Walsh offense for Weeden, then why is there any reason to believe he would have done differently with RG3 / JuJones?

            There isn’t, and this is why I believe that Norv and Chud will coach up Weeden into a quarterback that will win games.

          • Matt Borcas

            Regardless of head coach, I’d rather have RG3 than Weeden, and I’d rather have Julio Jones than Greg Little. That’s what this boils down to.

            There’s a reason why RG3 was considered a transcendent propsect and Weeden wasn’t (https://twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ/status/302496537668358145) and why Julio was taken at 6 overall as Little remained on the board til 59.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            >>>I’d rather have RG3 than Weeden, and I’d rather have Julio Jones than Greg Little. >>>
            and i want to toilet made out of solid gold but it’s just not in the cards.

            that’s not what it boils down to.

            here is what it boils down to:
            1. would you rather have RG3 over t-rich, weeden, schwartz, gordon, and this year’s #6 .. (plus another 1st in 2014 to top the redskins?)?

            2. would you rather have jujones over taylor, little, marecic, jmj, weeden?

            i wouldnt.

          • Matt Borcas

            That’s what it boils down to in regards to the “RG3 wouldn’t have been as successful in Shurmur’s offense” comments.

            1. Yes. Did you watch RG3 this year? Did you watch the Redskins the year before? I don’t see how we are worse off with RG3, and I’m sure we could’ve grabbed a decent RT in the third round to make up for the schwartz loss.

            2. I would trade those guys for Julio right now.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            i watched him tear two knee ligaments behind washington’s equivalent of porkchop womack and oneill cousins

            sorry but that’s a predictable end game when you dont invest in the line and only spend on ‘playmakers.’

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            i think everyone who would go back in time to increase the offer for RG3 implicitly says you can project his success onto the browns.

          • trashycamaro

            Like Holmgren/Heckert attempted to do? Because that is EXACTLY what they attempted to do.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            here is a case where holgrum’s sloth worked in our favor.
            i applaud his failure to execute.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            “Coach McKay, how do you feel about your team’s execution?”
            “I am all for it.”

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            I’m with Matt here in that the Julio trade should have been a win-win for both teams (it’s easy enough to see Julio as having the potential to be one of the top 5 receivers to play in the league over a decade’s time), and wasn’t because of the Browns’ failure to land a franchise player with the extra ammo. And RG3 definitely counts as a franchise player. I’m not sure how all of that’s not clear-cut.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Yeah! What jk said!

          • jaws.

            agree 100% about setting a value for RG3 and not jumping over it. The Redskins gave up so much just to get RGIII and now they are right against the salary cap and have very few avenues to improve their team through the draft. Yes, RGIII proved to be a solid quarterback, but between his injury risk and the fact that the Redskins sold out the future of the franchise to get him: I’m glad we didn’t make the trade.

            The seahawks and 49ers showed us the right path: Find a quarterback who is undervalued for one reason or another and adapt your offense to his strengths. Kaepernick and Russell Wilson are every bit as valuable to their teams as RGIII and they didn’t have to sell three future first rounders to get their guy.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          Matt,

          I completely agree about Heckert.

          However, I am not on board with the “give up drafting for the next decade to get RG3″ bandwagon.

          .Would you say that RG3 outplayed Russell Wilson in the playoffs?

          RG3 is an injury looking for a place to happen.

          • nj0

            Think it found the place.

          • Matt Borcas

            Yes, I’d say that Wilson outplayed an injured RG3 in one playoff game. But how much can a single game tell us about their respective careers going forward? They both have extremely bright futures.

            As for RG3 being “an injury looking for a place to happen”, I think a lot of that falls on the Shanahans. While they deserve credit for molding their offense to suit RG3’s strengths, RG3 also ran too much IMO. Wilson and Kaepernick didn’t run nearly as often as RG3, but the threat of them doing so still proved immensely valuable.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Matt,

            While I am fully cognizant of the fact that you are much smarter than I am, even I called it.

            Before the draft I said that RG3 would not make it through one season without serious injury.

            I am the dummest guy I know, but I watched RG3 run right into linebacker sandwiches throughout his Heismanship at Baylor. The big problem is that the defenders get bigger and faster in the NFL.

            RG3 is as elusive as a recently divorced woman at “last call”.

            The fact that the Browns did not give away the next decade of draft picks to get him is a very good thing.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          AND ANOTHER THING!

          since 85, there have been 26 QBs drafted in the top 3.

          27% were busts:
          JaMarcus Russell
          Tim Couch
          Ryan Leaf
          Heath Shuler
          Akili Smith
          Joey Harrington
          Vince Young

          this goes back to my roulette point.

          i dont think heckert ‘low-balled’ the rams. i think the skins overpaid. time will tell.

        • jaws.

          there is absolutely no fucking way we would be better off if we took Julio. Sure, you have to make the draft picks count, but you’re better off taking the future assets than the stud receiver when you know you don’t have a QB. Meanwhile the falcons got another key weapon because they felt they were only one or two players away. I think that really should go down as a win-win.

      • trashycamaro

        Those things you point out are important; however, they are irrelevant if you do not have a QB, barring an all-time great defense (see Ravens circa 2000 and Bucs 2002).

        The franchise QB is the rarest commodity in all of sports. If you have one of those, you can accumulate/scheme the other positions you need.

        This isn’t to say go pick Geno Smith #6 because he is the best QB available; this is to say the most important thing a franchise can do is get a reliable QB who is one of the top 15 starters in the league. Heckert is penalized in my mind for whiffing on RG3 and Russell Wilson.

        The coaching Weeden was given last year, and the offense he was in, were far from perfect. But I did not see the decision making needed for him to become a top 15 QB.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          ahhhh… trashy. ‘our coaching was far from perfect.’ i might put a finer point on that to say, ‘our coaching was remedial in its schemes and reflected poor preparation in its execution.’ hey tomato, toMAHtoe.

          anyway, if we’re in our annual gotta-have-a-QB-now mode, shit, then draft barkley in the 3rd round this year. because if he’d come out last year, we’d have taken him at 4.

          i mean.. that’s what we’re dealing with here: roulette wheels.

          and having 21 good non-QBs is always relevant.

          • nj0

            A good 21 make average QBs great.

          • nj0

            I may be the last man on Earth outside of Jay Cutler who thinks thinks that Jay Cutler is a really good QB. But he doesn’t do well. If you watch any Bears games closely you’ll notice that he’s usually in competition with a defensive end to take the snap. I’m not sure what my point is here outside of: a solid team makes a solid QB.

          • GrandRapidsRustlers

            Thank god I am not alone…I would take Jay Cutler in a Browns uniform before I finished typing this. I love the guy even if he is a complete ass.

          • nj0

            What is weird about him is once you get beyond the initial revulsion over his assholery, it kind of grows on you.

          • MichaelTheRed

            Cutler is a stud, I’d take that arm in Cleveland anyday as well.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            njo,
            I love it!
            Although I have used the phrase “He was fighting with the DT to take the handoff, but he was still terrific”, usually when speaking of Greg Pruitt, your line is much better.
            Of course I shall steal it and claim it as my own

          • Petefranklin

            Alex Smith average QB with good 21.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            You are on fire today jk!

            Did you have a seance?

            are you channeling the great wisdom of the ghost of Sam Rutigliano?

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            the free agent thing is turning into my new modell project. didn’t set out to get into it, but the more i looked into it, the more stuck i became:

            the browns are in a freakishly great position in this free-agency season. we’re in great shape and most everyone else is not (like, only bengals and dolphins are near the browns for cap space.).

            there’s some great shopping to be done provided we don’t piss it away on an ok qb and a diva wr.

          • bupalos

            Yeah I don’t know why this isn’t appreciated more. We’re in a position to add say 4 starters that would immediately be the 2nd or 3rd best through 6th best players on the team. This team should be credible immediately. I too would put ellerbe as the top target, but there are a lot of good options there and at corner and safety.

            (Casts nervous glance at Lombardi)

          • Petefranklin

            I figure we have a two year window of contention. Then the Lombardi picks settle to the bottom and we are garbage again.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          AND ANOTHER THING!
          (slow day at work, can you tell?)

          about the super bowl qb :: elite qb premise.. j’accuse!

          here’s your SB QBs since 98:
          flacco, kap, e-manning, brady, roeth, rodgers, warner, grossman, p-manning, hasselbeck, mcnabb, delhomme, gannon, brad johnson, dilfer, collins, mcnair, elway, chandler.

          there are 19.

          i suggest that at least ten of these names would have as bad as weeden in shurmur’s offense last year.

          i think only brady, rodgers, p-manning, elway, warner wouldve gotten last year’s browns into the playoffs.

          in other words, the strength of the entire team is usually/mostly the determining factor of success.

          one damn qb cannot do it by himself. see marino, dan.

          • trashycamaro

            I have a lot of time on my hands today – taking a practice MBE.

            I never said or meant to imply a QB can do it by himself. That’s asinine. What I did say is it is almost impossible to do it WITHOUT a top 15 QB.

            To help show this, I went back to 1992 and analyzed Super Bowl WINNERS (Put. That coffee. Down. COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS.) and said there are 3 non-elite QBs that have WON: Rypien, BJohnson, and Dilfer.

            Rypien’s Skins were one of the top teams of all time. Johnson and Dilfer had all time great defenses.

            Aside from those 3 teams, only elite QBs have won.

            Does that mean you have to spend all of your draft picks on QBs until you find one? Of course not. That is absurd.

            Does it mean you need someone in the personnel office who is smart enough to make the moves to get one when one is available? You’re absolutely right it does. Holmgren/Heckert clearly was not it. Is Lombardi/Banner? I certainly don’t know. But if they eff it up then we need to find someone who can make the moves.

            I do hope that it was merely the curse of Shurmur that prevented Weeden from becoming Dan Marino. But I didn’t see any glimmers of quality that gives me any hope that this is true.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            but but but but..

            with two recent SB wins, eli is the current driver of mitch-and-murray’s cadillac eldorado, correct?

            but yet, his offense scored only 17 and 21 points in his wins. under-reported is that the giants’ d-line harried brady in both games such that his offense scored only 14 (against season avg of 37 pts/game) and 17 (season avg 32).

            why is eli manning considered a god when it was the giants’ defense held the pats to ~17 points below their norm?

            it all comes back to fantasy football’s emphasis of individual over team and its corollary contribution to the decline of western civilization.

          • trashycamaro

            Obviously the rest of the team is very important, it would be absurd to think otherwise. I am not debating that at all. And I would go so far as to say that the first Giants Super Bowl win was BECAUSE of their D-Line.

            That said, if you replaced Eli on those two teams with , are those teams winning a Super Bowl? Even with that D-Line?

            I’m only asking for a top 15 QB here – but it is vastly important to get over the competence hurdle.

          • jaws.

            you’re partly right, but you also have to remember that Eli came up aces in clutch time in both of those games. Ultimately, you might not need the most consistent, godlike regular season QB (like Peyton Manning) to win the SB, but you do need someone who can come alive in ‘Tebow Time’ and lead a game-winning drive in the final 2:00.

            Example: Ben Roethisberger and Eli Manning aren’t leaps and bounds ahead of say a Phillip Rivers in passing statistics or regular season play. However, those two guys have each led GW drives in the SB more than once, so they get to be in the elite conversation.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Please refrain from taking the name of “Glengarry, Glen Ross” in vain.
            It is one of the things that I hold most sacred.
            Far more important than a damn Franksized Qwattaback”.

          • trashycamaro

            I claim this as a perfectly legit invocation of GGR. If you are the QB that gets to the Super Bowl and doesn’t win, you are not a closer. And coffee is for closers.

      • actovegin1armstrong

        Bravo jk,

        A great team could win a StuporBowl even if they stepped on their Dilfer!

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    slightly off topic, it’s time for some critical review on the Ozzie Newsome, Genius story.

    the ravens now sit at $107MM in 2013 salary against a ~$121MM cap.

    that leaves $14MM to fill openings at safety, tight end, OLB, ILB, ILB, and QB. at the same time a 32-year-old WR is their 3rd highest player. at the same time a retired 37 y.o. LB has 1.9MM in cap money allocated this year and additional monies in the 2014 and 2015,

    their UFAs are Flacco, Kruger, Ellerbe, Pitta, and Reed. with Lewis’ retirement and the propsective loss of Ellerbe, the Ravens’ starting ILBs project as undrafted Josh Byrnes and 36 year old Brendon Ayanbadejo.

    can’t take the super bowl away for sure. but the planning that brought a simultaneous contract expiration of six starters is… stupid.

    • nj0

      Really? I’m usually with you, but I’ll take, what?, fifteen+ years of success, two Super Bowl rings, and a year of cap drama every time. They put together a team that was supposed to peak at this time, which it did, and Ozzie will deal with the fallout when it happens (now).

      Surprised to hear this from you. You know that you don’t play baseball on a spreadsheet and you don’t play football in the payroll office. “Just win, baby.”

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        i reviewed all 32 teams’ cap situations.

        while there are several who are considerably over and porked in that way (steelers, saints, jets, cowboys), there is no other team with six starting positions vacant due to contract issues.

        the ravens front-office is unique in its bad planning. i stipulate the SB win accomplished the pre-eminent goal. but if the broncos had mastery of a deep-zone coverage, ozzie would confront the same roster problems.

        • nj0

          Until we see how he deals with it and how the Ravens respond on the field, I won’t judge. I mean, knowing them they’ll probably fill those six roles with nobodies from their current roster who will be superstars nine months from now.

          I get that it’s unique. I’m just not going to talk smack about a guy who has won two super bowls and put together a competitive team on the field for half my life.

          And yeah, the broncos could have, should have beat them. But the front office just gets you close. Coaching seals the deal.

          I will talk smack about just about anyone, but not Ozzie. Not yet at least.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            i had missed Kemoeatu and McKinnie before. so it’s eight starters to replace with $14MM.

            this is smack worthy.

          • nj0

            smack away then

          • trashycamaro

            Interesting observation on McKinnie (from Lombardi BTW) was he only played in the playoffs and allowed Ravens to move Oher to RT. That’s actually pretty nice work. Lombardi’s theory was that McKinnie can’t hold up for an entire season, but was still super useful in the run to the SB. Didn’t hear anyone else talk about this.

    • actovegin1armstrong

      jk,
      Ed Reed in Brown and Orange?
      He would intercept Flacco at least 3 times a year for the next 4 years. That alone would make it worth his asking price.
      Ed Reed is by far the best Raven’s player.

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        wrt d-backs, my face is fixed for steelers’ keenan lewis. 6-1 CB with no wrt missed tackles this year. steelers in cap hell would LOVE a team to take wallace of their hands (to avoid fan fallout) and to keep lewis.

        as for safety… sure reed is nice, but old and probably expensive. i might throw short money at pats’ patrick chung in part because he was a teammate of ward’s at oregon; that should be a plus right? also, baccari rambo from uga might be around in the 3rd round.. he’d be a good get for a safety.

        • actovegin1armstrong

          jk,

          What about Woodson and Reed at safety?

          Joe Haden can play one corner, then you and I can trade plays at the other corner.

          It would be terrific to get either one, but it is a crazy year when two of the best are ripe for the picking.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            i dunno. reed’s 34.. he’s gotta want a 3 year and sure you can cut him before that, but he’ll want a bonus reflective of a 3 year. i think he’s got gas in the tank and i think there’s value in having a vet who knows what they’re doing.

            hell, i’d love to bring in a HOF safety to teach the youngbloods. just think he’ll be expensive.

            woodson’s 36.. same thinking applies. love to have him.. if it’s cheap.

            we’d be getting a football nate thurmond. and that’s fine. good even. as long as it’s [somewhat] cheap.

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Love the Nate Thurmond reference!
            One of the most underrated players ever to lace up a pair of Chuck Taylor’s.

            Block shots, grab rebounds and play shut down D!

            I heard that he still loves his Akron roots too, although you probably know more about that than I do.

        • jaws.

          i’ve become a keenan lewis believer

    • actovegin1armstrong

      What the Browns really need is a FRANCHISE DB!!
      Ed Reed!

    • trashycamaro

      That’s why we have Banner, amirite? That said: Ozzie Super Bowls – 1, Banner – 0.

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        if it’s just ‘super bowls’ the score is tied at one.

    • dubbythe1

      we are taking Kruger and Ellerbe, and that DB from PIT. Mark it!

      • MichaelTheRed

        you might be right, Ellerbe for sure….not sold on Kruger yet, he has some coverage deficiencies. Ellerbe and DQ would immediately be a premier ILB corp

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          finally another ellerbe fan.
          see my ellerbe post here. ellerbe would be a great get for many reasons.

          [it’s ok for me to self-pimp. i’m a charter affiliate of the frowns media network.]

          • MichaelTheRed

            Ellerbe is one of the best 3-4 ILB’ers in the NFL, not sure why anyone wouldn’t want him in Cleveland. Plus you help rape out the interior of the Ravens LB’ing corp….it would be like a double win for us. So unless SF wants to talk to us about sending Bowman or Willis, we would be utterly stinking foolish not to go after Ellerbe hard. We get him than we can use the #6 on a real Aldon Smith type hybrid, none of this Ansah crap either….get either Moore, Warner or Jones.

          • alexb

            +1

          • jaws.

            you want an aldon smith type guy: Dion Jordan is the dude you want.

  • bupalos

    Stipulating the progress of JMJ and the flameout of weeden, I’d take the three plus players over Julio and I think most smart GM’s would. The way the contracts work out, that really would be three plus players and a decent free agent at a position of need for the same cost as Julio. Not to say it didn’t work OK for Atlanta– I’d call it win-win even with the bad Weeden pick.

    And I’m DEFINITELY not of a mind to give 17MM and 2 first rounders for Flacco, I think that’s a no-brainer the other way. If the ravens aren’t willing to pay him, why should we be willing to pay him and throw in the future to boot? He’s a good quarterback, but that particular group of receivers (and his excellent rapport with them at this point) had a whale of a lot to do with that late season run.

    • trashycamaro

      Totally agree with graph 1 and graph 2 here.

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Bupa,
      There is a terrific QB in this year’s draft. He is easily as overlooked as Mr Wilson.

      • alexb

        who?

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        nick florence from baylor?

        [hah, never mind. i just saw that he’s retiring from football.]

      • bupalos

        Well, spit out the name and hopefully Whalen will rubberstamp it and the Browns will be set for the next decade.

  • Jim Nantz

    I totally agree with the analysis of the Browns QB situation. It’s unfortunate that Cleveland has a few hypocrite fans that don’t see the bright future. Strong leadership is important to be a success in anything, and that’s what you have in Haslam, Banner and Lombardi.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      hey jim, thanks for stopping in! and don’t forget to remind us how heckert blew it last year by not taking russell wilson and alfred morris.

      • dubbythe1

        Just short of inviting him to Frowns Draft Party Kanick, just short…

    • GrandRapidsRustlers

      Jim…run home and shower as soon as possible…we are worried that the stupid from Phil Simms is slowly invading your body…quick…and stay away from Faldo too…

    • actovegin1armstrong

      Really? Jim, please tell me that you understand that you are not writing about Bruce Banner and Vince Lombardi.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

    Wait Trevor Bauer “rap controversy” why didn’t anyone tell me about this? http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2013/02/trevor_bauer_downplays_rap_con.html#incart_river

    • Defenestration

      “Gimme a break like kit-kat”!!!!

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Times like this are where this website not being a full time job pains me the most.

        • Defenestration

          I’ll start clicking ads more, Your Frownness.

  • MichaelTheRed

    Unless Ansah comes in and does something at the combine just simply never seen before, I’d be shocked if he goes in the early to middle first round. “Maybe” one of the top teams takes him late in the 1st cause they got nothing better to do and might like to try a project. Anybody with serious needs to fill and a high draft slot just simply isn’t taking some guy from BYU.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      i’m with borcas on this.

      ansah is 6-6, 275, 4.6 40 guy who played DE in a 3-4. pretty much exactly jason pierre-paul.

      and quite frankly, i’ll take a byu guy with measurables like that over an SEC every day. nick fairley is a cautionary tale.*

      • actovegin1armstrong

        I am on board with Ansah too. I posted a bit about him back in December, but I cannot remember the details.

      • MichaelTheRed

        ok look I hate the SEC, i’m a lifetime Buckeye….but please someone is going to have to explain to me why you pass on highly touted players from College football’s most dominant division for a project playing in that CYO Rocky Mountain division. Please someone enlighten me why you take this guy at #6. Look if he comes in and jumps 10 ft in the air and bench presses 225 90 times and runs a 4.3…..ok, now you have my attention. But barring that for gods sake why would you spend your #6 pick on him?

  • iamthawun

    How can you trust someones judgement who thinks ND players are good, when facts prove otherwise.

    • Matt Borcas

      Tyler Eifert will be a top 5 TE next year.

  • jaws.

    peter king is right about one thing: we are ‘QB needy and starved for relevance’ The answer isn’t flacco, it’s Tebow.

    He’s instant relevance at the price of a late round draft pick. Compared to flacco he costs virtually nothing in terms of draft picks and salary. He is younger and boasts more upside than weeden. He has already shown himself to be a serviceable quarterback in this league, even when virtually all of the circumstances went against him in Denver (no offseason, no experienced receivers, front office and coaching staff basically trying to make him look bad)

    If you take Tebow’s 2011 and put it up against the first 11 games of any rookie QB, Tebow wins most of those comparisons flat out. His numbers (and W/L record) run neck-and-neck with Andrew Luck’s first 11 starts and leave the likes of Brees’ and Peyton Manning in the dust completely.

    • alexb

      at this point I wouldn’t actually be adverse to letting Tebow have a shot here in Cleveland. I don’t really like the dude but he is a warrior, credit where it’s due. I would still make him compete against Weedon for that job though. But between him and Flacco there is no comparison you get that right? Flacco may come at too high a price and that would be the “one and only” reason you would consider Tebow over Flacco.

      • jaws.

        don’t be sold by the ridiculous tebow-bashing in the media. Forget about all the criticism on television and look at his on-paper results (despite the fact that he had every disadvantage in denver)

        Consider several quarterbacks through their first 11 starts:

        Peyton Manning (2-9):
        2,456 yards passing
        64 yards rushing
        16 total TD
        22 INT
        66 passer rating

        Drew Brees (7-4):
        2,106 yards passing
        98 yards rushing
        12 total td
        12 int
        81.2 passer rating

        Andrew Luck (7-4):
        3,205 yards passing
        183 yards rushing
        18 total TD
        13 int
        78.4 passer rating.

        Tim Tebow (8-3):
        1,944 yards passing
        744 yards rushing
        25 total TD
        5 int
        83.4 passer rating.

        Tebow clearly seems to belong in this comany.

        Furthermore, Tebow is not just a runner, he is an efficient passer. Lets compare Tebow’s 2011 to a similar sample size of 2012 Andrew Luck:

        After the week 10 games I did a comparison of Tebow’s 2011 and Luck’s 2012 (through week 10)

        2011 Tim Tebow (including playoffs):
        145/318
        2181 yds
        6.86 YPA
        14 td(4.4%)
        6 int(1.8%)
        75.47 rating

        2012 Andrew Luck (weeks 1-10 )
        208/362
        2631 yds
        7.27 YPA
        10 td(2.76%)
        9 int(2.49%)
        79.0 rating

        In limiting Luck’s sample size, his stats actually look better than they were for the full season

        You can say he is a 47% passer all you want, but if you use these samples to predict 40 passes (about one game), your expected production looks like this:

        Tebow: 19-40 for 274.4 yards, 1.76 TDs and 0.72 Ints

        Luck: 23-40 for 290.8 yards, 1.08 TDs and 0.996 Ints

        One guy sucks while the other is the most polished pro-ready QB prospect ever?

        And remember: this comparison only takes into account his passing numbers, and doesn’t factor in his ability to move the chains and pick up yards as a runner.

        • alexb

          I agree he’s got alot of intangibles and given what we’re working with here in Cleveland how, I’d take him in a heartbeat. But just for shits and giggles, say we could flacco for less than not being in the 1st round of drafting for the next 2-3 years, you have to go with Flacco over Tebow I mean that’s just not a comparison. But I do think the Jets were utterly retarded not to bring Tebow in last year full time. I mean what the kid did in Denver merited him a “look” at the very least. What in the hell did NY have to lose by the time midseason came around. They were awful

          • jaws.

            well, I’m not quite as high on flacco as you are. I agree he is an upgrade to what we have currently, but I doubt he would be as effective here as he was in Baltimore this past season. Was his fantastic postseason run an indication of him taking the next step to elite status? or was it just flacco riding an extended hotstreak while his receivers made some big plays for him?

            I’d say it was a little of both. Now if we could get flacco for peanuts this offseason I’d be more than happy to have him, but as you said the price is just too high for a guy who may not be a truely ‘elite’ quarterback.

          • alexb

            Prior to the playoff run I would have characterized his arm as “elite” for sure but not sold on him personally as being an elite qb. Now I think it’s set in stone pretty much. But ur right the price would be too high and honestly I don’t think he’d want to come here and really ball for us. He’d come for a paycheck but I don’t think we’d see the same guy as we see in Blt.

            Heard today the browns might take a run at Carson?

  • bupalos

    Wow didn’t know GRR had this kind of pull:

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/02/17/makers-mark-reverses-decision-to-water-down-whiskey/

    Still those who do not take this market flub opportunity to check out Buffalo Trace and or Evan Williams Single Barrel will have cheated themselves.

  • rodofdisaster

    Matt-

    Nicely done.

    The only reason Weeden is “bust-y” is because his age demands no room for error. He didn’t progress last year. Forget Shurmur and his offense. Weeden stared receivers down and wasn’t entirely accurate or confident with the football.

    You can have one Weeden-Colt-Thad Lewis on your team, not three.

    The Julio Jones trade SHOULD have come out in favor of the Browns as I am in the “one player doesn’t merit five” camp but it simply didn’t materialize that way. Then again, what do the Falcons really have to show for it? RGIII and Julio Jones are not the same situation. I would caution that QB is the most important position on every play. Yes, RGIII was injured but Shanahan should never have played him as long as he did. RGIII is no dummy. He will learn from this and he will protect himself more. He has to.

    • alexb

      I read an article earlier that said Weedon admitted studying the playbook was “boring” and made him want to sleep. If there’s even a snippet of truth to that he needed to be on a train out of town the day after the pgh game. Obviously NFL playbooks are laborious reading, I don’t know if I could memorize them they make war and peace look like a short essay. But guess what, to be an NFL QB…..heck to play in the NFL “period” you have to memorize the playbook. I’ve never Cribbs or any of the receivers for that matter complaining the playbook was boring.

      • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

        found an interesting link where mike gundy dropped weeden to 3rd string. i think this is 2009.

        “(Weeden) doesn’t practice poorly, but he almost looks like he gets somewhat bored at practice,” Gundy told reporters Friday.”

        “I’m not a practice player. I’m more of a game-type player. It’s just more fun,” Weeden said. “You get out there and it just happens so fast. You just try to stay in the flow with everything.”

      • rodofdisaster

        If someone paid you millions of dollars, would that make it less boring?

        • alexb

          indeed. Cause I’d intrinsically know this shit needs to go down the hatch or else I won’t be able to do the million dollar dance with a good bro. Millions of dollars just inherently makes things less boring, I would assume since I’ve never made millions of dollars and done the million dollar dance.

  • SteamingPileOfCraphonsoThorpe

    Really late to the party, but my point is simple: the Browns are not, I repeat not, going to get Joe Flacco. Anyone who says differently (besides Flacco’s agent, since his job is to scare the current employer into paying too much) is just DERP-ing your DERP. Don’t be a DERP.

    • alexb

      I agree…and I hope it works. I hope his agent shafts the Ravens for every last penny so they have nothing to re-sign Ellerbe, Kruger, Reed etc, etc.

  • alexb

    Looking at Werners footage today. Holy crapstick is this guy strong at the point of attack. I’ve seen various weight listings on him from the 250’s to the low 270’s. If he’s doing what I’m seeing at 255 to 265…I think we can make him a hybrid. He is going to be sick. Dude is so strong already it’s insane. He just stonewalls tackles and he does it alot from the 2 point which is why i’m thinkin he has potential in the 3-4. As good as this guy get’s lauded for his pass rushing honestly it’s his run D that has me impressed the most. I just watched a HUGE tackle make a run at him as he was moving horizontally down the line in run pursuit. Dude shrugged the shot off with his left shoulder as he was running to his right and made a “form” tackle. We really need to take a look at him. His weakness’s are listed as moving in space so I’m not 100% sold on him yet but honestly, is Harrison in Pgh really that good at cover? Fck if we got Ellerbe from Blt, and maybe Reed too who knows….and drafted either Moore or Werner our Defense could scary next year.

    The other thing I read about Warner is that they say if he puts on some weight he has the power to play 3-4 DE. If that’s the case we could try to get Kruger from Blt as well. We’d also have quality excess DL to maybe try and trade with..who knows. But I prefer the idea of drafting Werner or Moore to play the hybrid.

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