AFC North: restricted free agents

AFC North evening links

June, 14, 2010
Here are the latest happenings Monday in the AFC North:

Tender deadline is approaching

June, 13, 2010
Expect several contract signings in Cleveland over the next 48 hours.

Five restricted free agents for the Browns have yet to sign their tenders, and they have until Tuesday before the team can reduce those offers. Last week the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the Browns notified running back Jerome Harrison, fullback Lawrence Vickers, safety Abram Elam and linebackers D'Qwell Jackson and Matt Roth of their intention to cut 2010 salaries if the players fail to meet the deadline.

This is a hardball tactic by Cleveland to get its key players under contract. All of these restricted free agents are possible starters and want multi-year deals. But talks have gone nowhere thus far.

If any of these players do not sign their tenders, the Browns can change the offer to a 10-percent raise over last year's base salary, which would cost four of these five players more than $1 million.
D'Qwell Jackson,  Jerome Harrison, Abram ElamIcon, Getty, APSix Cleveland starters did not report for OTAs, including D'Qwell Jackson (left), Jerome Harrison and Abram Elam.
BEREA, Ohio -- Here is a bad sign for the Cleveland Browns: The team has more contract disputes (six) than wins (five) accumulated last season.

While Cleveland attempts to climb out of the basement in a highly competitive AFC North division, a half dozen starters (including the kicker) are skipping offseason workouts in hopes of getting a larger contract.

Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, safety Abram Elam, kicker Phil Dawson, pass-rush specialist Matt Roth and running backs Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers were missing from the start of the Browns' organized team activities last week. (Editor's note: The Plain Dealer reported Thursday that Harrison "has been participating in organized team activities this week despite not signing his one-year tender.") Roth reportedly went as far as to request a trade from Cleveland, while Jackson and Elam have publicly made statements about their unhappiness. Everyone except Dawson is a restricted free agent and has yet to sign their one-year tender.

These are problems that Cleveland's new braintrust of president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert must resolve before the start of the 2010 season. Although the players in question are solid, this power pair didn't draft any of them, and thus have no personal attachments to this group.

That makes the chances of Cleveland giving out various contract extensions to unhappy players even dicier, leading to this current standstill.

"You want them all to be here," Browns head coach Eric Mangini said at OTAs. "It's voluntary right now, and they have to make the decisions that they have to make. The thing that it does do for the guys that are here is it creates extra reps for them, which is positive because we do have quite a few guys [competing] at positions."

(Read full post)

Morning take: Browns' RFAs

May, 17, 2010
Here are the most interesting stories in the AFC North:

Morning take: The "restricted" language is there for a reason. Several Browns are hoping to get new deals before the start of the season. But having new leadership decreases that possibility.

  • Baltimore Ravens linebacker/defensive end hybrid Terrell Suggs says he will never have a repeat of 2009.
Morning take: Those are strong words, but you have to appreciate Suggs' honesty. The Ravens could use a bounce-back year from "T. Sizzle."

Morning take: Tight end Heath Miller was the signature pick of this draft. Two additional starters followed. Can you name them?

Morning take: Bryant has been around the block in his NFL career. But this is a good situation for him this season in terms of scheme and a chance to compete for a division title.