OBR News and World Report: 3/19

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BROWNS BYTES

With a pair of second-round picks—including one of general manger Phil Savage's own—waiting in the wings, hindsight says it was only a matter of when, not if, safety Chris Crocker was moved.

Contrary to popular belief, though, the Browns were not shopping Crocker.

According to a team source, it was the Falcons calling the Browns regarding the availability of Crocker, not vice versa. While the three-year veteran was not technically on the market, the Browns were more than willing to listen to what Atlanta had to offer.

With the presence of Brodney Pool and Sean Jones on the roster, Crocker became expendable and Savage was able to fleece a high second-day pick out of his counterpart in Atlanta.

And why do we say fleece? The Falcons were initially looking to give up a fifth- or sixth-rounder and Savage was able to talk the club into a fourth-rounder for a player who has "nice, solid journeyman" written all over him.

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According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns have signed free-agent tight end Darnell Dinkins to a three-year contract. The deal is said to be worth $2.1 million and includes a $200,000 signing bonus.

(Editor's Note: This helps to confirm a report posted on the OBR last Friday)

The Browns had been in the market for another TE after Aaron Shea, who signed with the Chargers on Friday, made it clear to the club that he would not return. Shea was looking for an expanded role, which would not have happened in Cleveland with the return of Kellen Winslow.

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The Plain Dealer speculates that while a trade up in the draft to grab a player such as A.J. Hawk is highly unlikely, a case can be made for four other defensive players who could be sitting there and be the Browns' pick at #12.

All signs, the paper says, point to the Browns going defense with their first-round pick.

In a related story, all signs point to the sun rising in the east tomorrow and the day after.

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Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository, on the other hand, opines that the Browns shouldn't completely shut the door on grabbing an offensive player with their first pick, especially at the running back position.

While stating that Reuben Droughns is "functional-plus", the paper argues that "A-minus" prospects such as LenDale White and DeAngelo Williams should not be overlooked.

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The four highest-rated free agents left on the market--linebackers Julian Peterson and LaVar Arrington, and defensive backs Charles Woodson and Ty Law—are all represented by the Poston brothers.

What are the odds?

Peterson and Arrington, of course, have been linked to the Browns throughout the week-old free-agent signing season.
 

AFC NORTH NOTES

One of the early surprises of this free-agent signing period is the Ravens' failure to address the quarterback position. According to the Baltimore Sun, the inactivity may be related to Steve McNair.

The Titans QB has long been rumored to be a potential cap casualty at some point after the April draft. The Ravens' thinking, the paper says, may be to wait and see exactly what the Titans do with McNair.

That strategy could come back and bite Baltimore, however, as the interest in McNair could cause them to lose out on Kerry Collins (did I just type that?) or another veteran QB of interest.

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Despite the fact that they lost three of their own free agents--quarterback Jon Kitna, tight end Matt Schobel and wide receiver Kevin Walter—while getting only safety Dexter Jackson, head coach Marvin Lewis is happy with how the Bengals off-season has unfolded.

"I think we did more than I anticipated doing," Lewis said.

"With as many players as we have under contract, I didn't think we'd do a lot. We're sitting here with a roster of 60 guys."

The coach was also upbeat about the progress QB Carson Palmer has made in rehabbing his injured knee, but cautioned reporters "please don't run too hard with that one".
 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I think it's important, but if we think some player from Wisconsin can help us, we'd be interested in him, too. I think it's important for us to have an identity, and guys from here can help bring that back. But if we don't go out there and win, it's not going to matter."

---Phil Savage, on the signing of former Cleveland-area high schoolers

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