Browns Rumors

Browns GM John Dorsey On Key Players, Draft Plans

Browns GM John Dorsey addressed the media this morning and provided a number of noteworthy tidbits. Here are some highlights (compiled via the Twitter accounts of Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com):

On the status of RB Duke Johnson, who requested a trade a few weeks ago:

Dorsey said that Johnson’s trade request does not change how the club views him, and that he still envisions a key role for Johnson in the Browns’ offense. Johnson has not been with the team since the offseason workout program began on April 1, but there has been communication between the team and Johnson’s agent. There is still no word on whether Johnson will report for mandatory minicamp in June, but it sounds as though Dorsey is not particularly keen to honor Johnson’s trade request at this time (which means there may not be a particularly large market for his services).

On trading into the first round:

Dorsey did not rule out the possibility of getting his club back into the first round of this year’s draft, and he acknowledged the benefit of getting the potential fifth-year option for a top collegiate prospect. He said he has talked to teams picking in the bottom of the first round about a potential trade, but he added that he always does that as a part of his due diligence. The Browns’ first draft choice this year is the No. 49 overall selection, so they would need to give up a lot to jump at least 17 spots into the first round.

On Odell Beckham Jr.:

Dorsey said OBJ has not reported to the team for voluntary workouts, but he does not sound concerned. He said it would be nice to have the star receiver present, but he added that Beckham is a professional who understands what he needs to do to get ready for the season.

On Kareem Hunt:

Dorsey said that Hunt has “worked his fanny off” both with the team and in the community, and he is impressed with the progress Hunt has made.

On Morgan Burnett:

Dorsey sees the newly-acquired defender as the Browns’ starting strong safety.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Met With DT Jeffery Simmons

  • Jeffery Simmons‘ pre-draft tour continues to take shape. The Mississippi State-developed defensive lineman traveled to Indianapolis for his Combine recheck, due to the ACL tear he suffered while preparing for the draft, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets positive reviews emerged regarding Simmons’ recovery. Following the Indianapolis trip, Simmons has visits with the Cardinals and Dolphins lined up, Rapoport adds. Simmons’ Browns meeting has already occurred, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Simmons, who finished with 18 tackles for loss last season, is expected to miss the 2019 season but was viewed as a surefire first-round pick prior to his knee injury.

Examining How The OBJ Trade Came Together

Ever since the blockbuster trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns last month, reports have trickled in that have allowed us to piece together how the deal ultimately unfolded. But in an excellent piece that examines the timeline of the trade in detail, Pat McManamon and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com provide a comprehensive look at what is likely to be the biggest blockbuster of the offseason, which could have massive ramifications on both of the league’s conferences.

The entire piece is worth a read, but the highlights are below (some of this has already been reported, but it helps put everything in context):

  • The Browns had been monitoring the Beckham situation as far back as March 2018 — before OBJ signed his five-year, $90MM extension with the Giants — but New York had made it clear that it would not trade Beckham for less than two first-round picks. Since Cleveland was holding the No. 1 and No. 4 overall selections last year and was unwilling to part with either, no discussions ever took place between the two clubs.
  • But OBJ’s relationship with the Giants deteriorated throughout the 2018 campaign, so the Browns kept Beckham in mind, knowing that if there was even a one percent chance New York could be persuaded to pull the trigger, Cleveland would try to break down the door. The fact that Browns GM John Dorsey and Giants GM Dave Gettleman have been friends for 37 years was certainly a major factor in pushing the deal along.
  • Gettleman did call the Bills early last month to discuss OBJ after Buffalo reportedly showed interest in acquiring Antonio Brown, but the Bills’ involvement in the Beckham sweepstakes was so minimal that the idea never reached head coach Sean McDermott‘s desk.
  • On the other hand, Gettleman did have numerous conversations with 49ers GM John Lynch — who wanted OBJ badly — over the course of a few weeks. Lynch was willing to swap 2019 first-round picks with the Giants (No. 2 for No. 6), but he was not willing to give up the No. 2 pick and leave his team with no selections in the first round, so that became the sticking point in the deal.
  • Ultimately, the Browns got word that the 49ers were in serious pursuit of Beckham, so Dorsey decided it was time to act. When the Giants and Browns were discussing a deal for Olivier Vernon, Dorsey brought up Beckham, and the trade came together shortly thereafter.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/5/19

We’ve got a bunch of minor moves today, with a handful of players being signed from the recently defunct AAF:

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed: G Kitt O’Brien, C Parker Collins (both from AAF)

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed: WR Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi

Dallas Cowboys

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: OL Michael Dunn (AAF)

Minnesota Vikings

Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: C J.C. Hassenauer, DB Jack Tocho (both from AAF)

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Redskins

  • Signed: DE Andrew Ankrah (AAF)

 

Browns To Sign Morgan Burnett

The Browns are set to sign former Packers and Steelers safety Morgan Burnett, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. The veteran was not happy with the way he was used in Pittsburgh last year, but he’ll now have an opportunity to compete for the club’s starting job at strong safety. Burnett will receive a two-year deal that can max out at roughly $9MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

The Browns’ filled a need at wide receiver when they acquired Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants, but they also created a need at strong safety by giving up Jabrill Peppers in the deal. They got even more thin at safety recently when they released Derrick Kindred, so Burnett should have an opportunity to shine in Cleveland. He’ll duke it out with Eric Murray, who just came over in the Emmanuel Ogbah deal with the Chiefs, for the right to play opposite of free safety Damarious Randall, his former Packers teammate.

The club also plans to sign former AAF quarterback Garrett Gilbert, Cabot adds (Twitter link). Before he was displaced by the spring league’s abrupt stoppage, Gilbert spent time with the Rams, Patriots, Lions, Raiders, and Panthers. He has just three career passes in the NFL, but evaluators regarded him as one of the best QBs in the AAF.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/3/19

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Re-signed (ERFA): WR Marcus Kemp
  • Waived: CB Step Durham

New York Giants

New York Jets

Miami Dolphins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Browns Re-Sign FB/TE Orson Charles

Orson Charles will spend another year in Cleveland, as the Browns have announced they’ve re-signed the veteran fullback/tight end.

Charles, 28, appeared in 13 games and made two starts for the Browns in 2018. He saw action on 173 offensive plays, the most snaps he’d played since his rookie campaign with the Bengals in 2012. Charles, originally a fourth-round pick, also chipped in on 265 special teams snaps.

Charles spent the first few seasons of his career with Hue Jackson as his position coach in Cincinnati, then followed Jackson to Cleveland in 2018 (with stops in New Orleans, Detroit, and Kansas City in between). Jackson, of course, is no longer with the Browns, but Cleveland’s decision-makers have still opted to bring Charles back for another season.

The Browns have added star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt to an offense that already included weapons like Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins, and David Njoku, so Charles probably won’t see much action on offense unless injuries strike.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Claim Derrick Kindred Off Waivers From Browns

The Colts have claimed Derrick Kindred off waivers, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The safety was let go by the Browns on Monday, and the Colts pounced on the opportunity to add him and his inexpensive contract.

Kindred, 25, is set to make a little more than $2MM in 2019. At that price, he’s a relative bargain for a club that has been largely reluctant to part with its ample cap space this offseason.

Since entering the league as a 2016 fourth-round pick, Kindred has appeared in 42 games for Cleveland. Last year, he had a perfect attendance record and registered 45 tackles, one interception, and a forced fumble. The Browns’ decision to release him leaves the club with a hole at strong safety that it could look to fill via the draft.

The Colts, meanwhile, add a youthful and reasonably talented DB who will provide useful depth for the recently re-signed Clayton Geathers, who has a troublesome injury history. Kindred can also contribute on special teams.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Duke Johnson Requests Trade From Browns

It appears the Browns and Duke Johnson will part ways in the near future. Already believed to be on the trade block, Duke Johnson has submitted a request to be moved, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports.

Since the Browns signed Kareem Hunt, the Jets, Texans and Eagles have been interested in Johnson, Cabot adds. Johnson did not show for the first day of the Browns’ offseason program.

When the Browns brought in Hunt, John Dorsey initially said Johnson was not yet a candidate to be moved. Hunt since incurred an eight-game suspension, making backfield depth paramount. But the Browns have been ruthless in moving on from talent acquired under previous regimes. Kevin Zeitler, Jabrill Peppers, Derrick Kindred and Emmanuel Ogbah have been the latest to go. Johnson, a third-round pick during the Ray Farmer regime, has been Cleveland’s passing-down back for four seasons.

Dorsey said recently he has not spoken to Johnson, but Cabot makes it clear the running back’s representatives have spoken to other Browns execs with the intention of being traded.

First-year HC Freddie Kitchens said Johnson would have a role alongside Nick Chubb, even after Hunt returns. But as Cabot points out, Odell Beckham Jr.’s arrival will likely push Jarvis Landry inside more often, decreasing the opportunities for Johnson to work in the slot. His lack of touches last season was already a point of contention, per Cabot.

I don’t know why it’s assumed that we’re going to trade Duke Johnson,” Kitchens said. “I don’t know why we would ever want to, like, just voluntarily give up a good football player. Duke Johnson is a good football player. Duke Johnson will have a role on our football team. All these guys that are here will have a role. I don’t know when it just became a necessity to trade Duke Johnson because we signed Kareem Hunt.”

The 25-year-old back is signed to a team-friendly three-year, $15.6MM contract. He is signed through 2021. Despite playing in 16 games, Johnson saw his scrimmage-yards total plummet from 1,041 in 2017 to 630 last season. His touches dropped from 156 in 2017 to 87 last year. The former Miami Hurricane still leads all running backs in receiving yardage (2,170) since entering the league (h/t ESPN’s Field Yates, on Twitter).

In signing Le’Veon Bell, the Jets already paid a premium for a pass-catching back. The Eagles just traded for Jordan Howard, but he has not been a prolific receiver. And Darren Sproles may or may not be retiring. The Texans just lost Alfred Blue to the Jaguars and were without D’Onta Foreman for much of last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.