The image of the Cleveland Browns has drastically improved over the past
couple of months, now that GM Phil Savage and Coach Romeo Crennel have taken
over. With the signing of ten free agents, all in positions of need, what
appears to be a successful draft, and a new-found belief in the ability of the
front office, numerous fans have told me that they have returned to the fold
after a long hiatus. Except for concern of the return to full health by Kellen Winslow, Jr., (the Browns deny any problem) nothing negative has come out of
Berea in the last couple of months. Until today.
News comes out today that newly acquired running back Reuben Droughns
left Cleveland over two weeks ago, at the suggestion of his agent, Drew
Rosenhaus. Droughns is currently under contract for the next two years at
around a million dollars a year, but he wants to re-negotiate.
I guess I can’t blame him for trying, but I can’t blame the Browns for
reminding him that he is under contract. There should be no wiggle room here.
Let’s assume Droughns wants another million per year. Had he been under that
contract in Denver, he probably wouldn’t have been as attractive to them as we
turned out to be. Unlike the bidding war involved in adding free agents,
Droughns’ existing two-year deal was part of his attractiveness, allowing the
Browns to trade Defensive Lineman Ebenezer Ekuban.
This is the first ‘problem’ that Savage and Crennel have faced in
Cleveland. The other players working out in the off-season conditioning
programs will be watching, especially to see how Crennel handles his first
personnel problem as head coach. Will Droughns be welcomed back with open
arms, which would let other players know that they might be able to bend the
rules a little bit? Or will Crennel and Savage take a stand?
I doubt that Butch Davis would have chosen Michigan’s Braylon Edwards
with the third pick in this year’s draft. Two things were against that.
First, the position of wide receiver, because of the history of few successes
that early in the draft. And, secondly, Michigan---more generally the Big
Ten. Davis clearly downplayed anyone from the Big Ten, especially at skilled
positions, and obviously felt more comfortable with players from Florida, or
ones that he previously recruited. At this point, five years after he left
Miami, there would have been none of those players left to choose from.
I don’t understand the criticism that Michigan never has produced great
wide receivers. I could argue that Anthony Carter was a good one, and Desmond Howard won a Heisman and was MVP of a Super Bowl. And there have been
others. But why should Edwards be held accountable for what happened in Ann
Arbor in the past. That is very similar to the criticism of Duke basketball,
which didn’t really produce great NBA players until Grant Hill showed up.
Danny Ferry was always the poster-boy for that argument, but it is
ridiculous. For years the wide receiver argument could have been made for
Ohio State players, but recent history has changed that.
At this time I can’t predict
a great career for Edwards, even though I was hoping he would be the choice of
the Browns. But if he doesn’t succeed, it will have nothing to do with the
fact that he came from Michigan.
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