By: Matt Fontana
While the Cleveland Browns ushered out another regime on Monday, down the hall the rest of the Browns simply ushered out. Following a disappointing 5-11 season, the Browns’ players cleaned out their locker room and prepared to head into the off season.
For some, it could be their final time in the Browns’ locker room. Eighteen players had their contract expire following the season finale in Pittsburgh. That list is headlined by veterans Phil Dawson and Ben Watson. Both sit in similar boats -- without a contract for 2013. “I’d love to be back; I enjoyed myself here, tremendously.” said Watson about the chance of returning to Cleveland. Dawson looks to the future as very uncertain, “I’d be open to talking to anybody; I need a job.” Dawson said Cleveland would be a team he is open to talking with.
While some Browns will look for new jobs in 2013, others know their destination. Players like Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden will be under contract with the Browns next year. Both packed up their lockers and began to prepare for their first NFL offseason and for Richardson it could not come sooner.
T-Rich revealed that he had played the majority of the 2012 season with two broken ribs, sustained in a week six victory over the Bengals. From there, Richardson said the injury hindered almost every aspect of his game, “Playing like that is tough,” he said.
Richardson finished 2012 with a Browns rookie record 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 games, numbers he looks to improve on in 2013. “It’s going to be one of the biggest years you all have seen for a running back around here.” said Richardson, talking about his goals for next year.
For Weeden, his first offseason will also include rehabbing an injury. After missing the last game of 2012 with a sprained shoulder, Weeden said his shoulder feels better and will take a month or so off from throwing during the offseason.
As for the elephant in the room, Weeden, Richardson and Greg Little all expressed their gratitude toward Pat Shurmur. “Pat did a real good job when he was here,” Richardson said. “Wherever Pat goes, I’m sure he will have success. He has a love for the game.” Little also said Shurmur, “pours his heart into it (football). This is what he wakes up and does every day.”
The Browns locker room looked like the last day of school -- boxes of things to take home, suitcases and backpacks stuffed full. Unfortunately for most of the players, the feeling was not a joyful one -- unlike heading into a summer vacation. The locker-room was somber and quiet, a calm before the storm that will be the Browns 2012-13 off season.
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