Around Christmas time, I had an opportunity to speak with Jerrold Colton, the agent for Browns defensive back Anthony Henry. Colton represents 6-7 NFL players, most notably Henry, and Bengals linebacker Bryan Simmons, who Colton negotiated a six-year/thirty million dollar deal for just a couple years back. Colton also represents Boomer Esiason and heads up the Boomer Esiason Charitable Trust … and heads a law practice out of Cherry Hill, NJ.
Just recently, Colton represented U.S. sprinter Kelli White, the winner of two gold medals at the 2003 world track and field championships, who later accepted a two-year ban for taking a host of performance-enhancing drugs including undetectable steroids. White's case was the first to use evidence seized in the BALCO raid made so famous because of involvement of baseball superstars Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi.
Colton, despite his distaste for the former Browns regime headed by Butch Davis, was very cordial throughout the interview, and gave Browns fans a look inside the bungled contract negotiations that transpired this season that could lead to Anthony becoming an unrestricted free agent on March 2nd. He encouraged me to check back in with him as the timeline between now and then unfolded, and promised to provide me any updates.
I took him up on that offer, and had another chance to speak with him by phone just recently. Here's the transcript of our conversation:
Swerb: "Jerrold, good to speak with you again, thanks for again taking the time."
Colton: "No problem Rich, wish I had more to tell you."
Swerb: "Since we last spoke, the Browns have hired Phil Savage as the team's new general manager. Have you yet to hear from Phil, or any of his people?"
Colton: "Not as of yet, though I am definitely looking forward to hearing from them. There are no new developments as of yet."
Swerb: "Are you surprised by that? Is the window closing on Anthony coming back here?"
Colton: "The Browns still have six weeks until March 2nd comes. At this point, they are still one of one. On March 2nd, they become one of thirty-two. I'm still cautiously optimistic, but it may be a stretch to be optimistic with a coach and general manager coming in who may want to allocate dollars towards guys they are more familiar with."
Swerb: "Anyone in particular you are referencing there?"
Colton: "Well, I do know that Gary Baxter out of Baltimore will likely also be a free agent this off-season, and that Savage has a history with him and stole him late in the draft 3-4 years ago. But so does Mike Nolan now out in San Francisco. Still, it wouldn't surprise me to see Baxter and Anthony switch spots in 2005. While Baxter and Anthony are similar in a lot of respects, I feel Anthony is still a better corner, and I think most NFL personnel types would agree with me."
Swerb: "After our first conversation, you piqued my interest when you mentioned Butch Davis's preferential treatment given to players with a certain agent. I know you don't like to discuss individual names, but I did notice that Butch's agent, Marvin Demoff, also represents Courtney Brown, Daylon McCutcheon, Warrick Holdman … and several other players who have been in and out of Berea. Any comment on my findings?"
Colton (laughing): "Again, the way that regime handled its business, and their dealings with certain agents of choice were ridiculed around the league. It made anyone with any sort of common sense scratch their head. There is not one other team in this league that operated that way, and quite frankly it was embarrassing. Several of them are still there, though I don't know for how much longer."
Swerb: "Any comment on the Browns cutting ties with Pete Garcia?"
Colton: "Let's just say I don't deem that as a major loss, and I don't expect Pete's phone to be ringing off the hook in lieu of that news."
Colton: "I will say this, I think very highly of Jeremy Green. He will land on his feet with a great job somewhere if he does not stay in Cleveland. I see Jeremy running his own franchise one day soon, that's the kind of talent he has. I'm not sure if joining his dad would be the best move for him, that complicates things, and Jeremy has a bright future."
Swerb: "Lastly, did you see the comments your client Boomer Esiason made about Dan Marino on the CBS playoff coverage this weekend?"
Colton: "The televised comments?"
Swerb: "Yes. With Marino sitting right next to him, he suggested Peyton Manning may be ‘this era's Dan Marino' for his inability to win a title. Boomer said it seemingly in jest, yet Marino looked pretty salty."
Colton: "I did talk to him afterwards, and he was surprised at Marino's reaction."
Swerb: "Jerrold, do you mind if I check back in another 3-4 weeks down the road to chart any progress as March 2nd approaches?"
Colton: "Feel free Rich, I don't mind at all."