By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Updated at 10:45 a.m.
The Morning Kickoff …
Dubious diligence: For a team whose head coach labeled quarterback as the team’s “obvious” priority, the Browns have had a funny/bizarre/dubious (choose one) way of scouting the top quarterbacks in the coming draft.
1. They did not devote a single one of their 60, 15-minute interview sessions at the NFL Combine to a first round-caliber quarterback. The Browns decline to say why.
2. They did not send their head coach, Mike Pettine, nor their offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, to Teddy Bridgewater’s pro day at the University of Louisville on Monday. The Browns decline to say why.
According to Tony Pauline, publisher of draftinsider.net, Browns General Manager Ray Farmer did attend Louisville’s pro day. But it appears Farmer’s attention was riveted on another player. Pauline reported that Farmer “met extensively” with Preston Brown. Who is Preston Brown? An inside linebacker projected for the late rounds of the draft.
For the record, Bridgewater’s workout was reported as “very average,” “not accurate,” “troublesome,” “underwhelming” …
(Caution: Prior to the 2005 draft, Louisiana State quarterback JaMarcus Russell had the greatest pro day in the history of pro days. He proceeded to become one of the biggest busts – literally and figuratively – in the history of the NFL draft.)
The scrutiny on Bridgewater was turned up several notches because he declined to throw at the Combine, opting, like most, to reserve his best stuff for optimum conditions. When you underwhelm under optimum conditions, you have suffered a setback in the pre-draft process.
One point of discussion was Bridgewater’s decision to discard the gloves he wore in warm and cold weather during the college season. Without them, his throws were sometimes wobbly and off target, per several reports. His hands measured smallish at the Combine.
Also, the pre-Combine knock on the 6-2 Bridgewater was his light frame. He weighed 214 at the Combine. At his pro day, he was six pounds lighter. Not good.
And Bridgewater was considered the most “pro-ready” of the quarterbacks entering the pre-draft season?
Back to the Browns … what are they doing? Why are they allergic to quarterbacks in the draft? Why wouldn’t they attend every top quarterback’s pro day in full force to gather as much information and observation as possible?
Farmer declines to comment. His actions, and those of the organization, speak volumes. The inescapable conclusion is they are not impressed with the class of quarterbacks at the top and are concentrating on other positions.
Who’s No. 21?: The 2013 season ended with Jason Campbell as the 20th quarterback to start a game for the Browns since 1999.
With Campbell released last week – and the Browns’ new brass apparently lukewarm about drafting a quarterback high – who is likely to become No. 21?
National reports continue to single out the Browns as a probable destination for defrocked Houston Texans starter Matt Schaub. Puh-leeeze.
Schaub, who will be 33 in June, lost his starting job last season when he unraveled under the pressure of Super Bowl expectations. After a 2-0 start, he proceeded to drive the Texans down a path of self-mutilation with pick 6’s in four consecutive, needlesticks-to-the-eyes losses – an NFL record.
Never a strong field leader, Schaub understandably lost his confidence and his right to maintain a $10 million salary and $14 million salary cap figure in 2014. New Houston coach Bill O’Brien reportedly wants to trade Schaub (good luck, coach) and inevitably will release him at some point.
National insiders assume the Browns as a destination for Schaub because of the connection to coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who supervised Schaub’s best season in Houston, statistically, in 2009.
Schaub threw for 4,770 yards and compiled a passer rating of 98.6, and the Texans went 9-7 – their first winning season since their inception in 2002. The Texans peaked under Schaub with playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012, and first-round wins each time over the Andy Dalton-impaired Cincinnati Bengals.
Would Schaub put up better numbers in Shanahan’s system than Brian Hoyer? Probably. He knows the system and can execute it.
But is he a better leader? Could he inspire a turnaround better than Hoyer? I don’t think so.
I would leave Schaub to a team that has no other hope at quarterback, like Oakland.
Brandon’s new spot: Brandon Weeden left Cleveland last week with $2.1 million in future money guaranteed in his original Browns contract. On Monday, he signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys reportedly for the minimum salaries for a player of his NFL experience of $570,000 and $660,000.
But because Weeden’s contract with the Browns did contain “offset” language -- ESPN Cleveland has confirmed -- he will not enjoy the “double dip” of collecting full salary amounts from the Cowboys and Browns, if he makes the Cowboys’ final roster.
The issue of “offset language” is a major sticking point in contracts for players taken in the first round. The insistence on offset language by former GM Tom Heckert means that the Browns' guaranteed money owed Weeden will be offset by the salaries paid by the Cowboys.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys could go into the 2014 season with three quarterbacks over the age of 30 – Tony Romo, 34; Kyle Orton, 31; and Weeden, 30.
(Ed. note: An earlier version of this story has incorrect information.)
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hastage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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