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“The Kicker Tag”, And Other Things

Posted By Corey Rioux On Mar 5 2012 @ 10:44 pm In Cleveland Browns | No Comments

The long-time kicker of the Cleveland Browns, Phil Dawson, has received Cleveland’s franchise tag for the 2012 NFL season. This marks the second straight season Dawson has received the franchise tag, unfortunately showing Cleveland has no one better to place it on. Other kickers franchised around the league include: Mike Nugent (CIN), Josh Scobee (JAX), Matt Prater (DEN), Connor Barth (TB), and even punter Sean Weatherford (NYG).

Dawson will check out with a total of $3.8 million next year, an increase from last season’s $3.125 million. Since the re-emergence of the Browns in 1999, Dawson has been the club’s kicker every year, therefore making next season Dawson’s 14th in an orange helmet. At this rate, I’d hate to see Dawson depart from Cleveland, but at the age of 37, he could possibly be kicking for another 5-7 years. Hopefully, next season Cleveland can actually maintain a consistent long snapper (damn you, Ryan Pontbriand).

With the draft looming, the wheels are now in a constant motion from here on out. Last week started with the re-signing of MLB D’Qwell Jackson to a 5-year $42.5 million dollar contract, showing Jackson is ready to commit to a young and thriving defense. However, the gaps along with question marks are easier to visualize than the quality pieces already in place. Jackson is the first signing of this offseason and I can only hope many more are to come when free agency officially begins on March 13th.

After Monday’s deadline, 21 franchise tags were handed out across the NFL, seven more than ever before. The fact that the price on franchise tags has dipped significantly due to the new formula (average of top 5 paid positions) put in place during the agreement of the new CBA, has contributed to the increase.

Among the key players who couldn’t come to terms to ink a new long-term deal that have been franchised are: RB Matt Forte (CHI), RB Ray Rice (BAL), and even QB Drew Brees of New Orleans (bounty-scandal later on). As you probably already know, Desean Jackson will also have another year off the market as Philadelphia decides the long-term value of the up-and-down wide out.

Brees is under the “exclusive” level of the franchise tag, all other franchised players are allowed to negotiate with other teams in search of an offer sheet, which they may sign, but then depart in return of two first-round draft picks, of course depending on whether or not their current team matches the offer sheet. However, Brees may only negotiate with New Orleans.

Eight of the twenty-one players franchised are on the defensive side of things, noteworthy names include: S Tyvon Branch (OAK), CB Brent Grimes (ATL), S Dashon Goldson (SF), S Michael Griffin (TEN), LB Anthony Spencer (DAL), and DE Robert Mathis (IND). The use of the franchise on Mathis in Indianapolis opens up unrestricted free agents, Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne, to go wherever they please starting next Monday. Wayne is expected to return to the Colts whether Manning is there or not and Garcon will presumably leave in search of a bigger contract or as a top WR for a different squad.

Notable free agents who were not tagged before the deadline and will not be with these respective teams on the 13th include: WR Marques Colston & G Carl Nicks both of New Orleans (the cost of having to place it on Brees), DE Mario Williams (HOU), WR Vincent Jackson (SD), and QB Matt Flynn (GB). Also, restricted free agent Mike Wallace, who has publicly stated he might want a change of scenery, was not given the tag as Pittsburgh decided not to use theirs. Yet, Wallace does have a first round tender if he is to leave Pittsburgh.

Bounty Time

I will agree that the bounty scandal is a bit of a mess, but is it being blown out of proportion? Under some circumstances such as player safety, absolutely not. However, the investigation of New Orleans proved things to be true as confirmed by former DC Greg Williams and current head coach, Seam Payton, but is New Orleans the only team?

I’d like to think not. I’m not putting any rumors across the sporting world, but in this day of age of social media with cell phones and Twitter, you didn’t think for a second other players were doing the same as Jonathan Vilma? Favre has came out and said he doesn’t mind the act, but did notice the severity and difference of the hits in the 2009 NFC championship game where 10k was put up to knock him out of the contest.

Serious consequences are sure to be handed out to STL’s Greg Williams, GM Mickey Loomis, and Sean Payton. Ashley Fox of ESPN has already pushed for the firing of Loomis and Payton [1], lets not get ahead of ourselves. We don’t need another Paterno thing on our hands as if not doing enough is completely against the law, well people, it’s not. Get your priorities straight.

With that, situations and media coverage is sure to unfold and unravel over the next coming weeks for the NFL and the Saints. Lets all hope this scandal of a situation blows over when the punishments are handed out, and it better be before the draft. Better be.

Decisions to Make

Before I hand out some obvious Cleveland possibilites and the way I hope and think things should pan out over the course of the offseason, I’d like to hand out a get well soon message to GM Tom Heckert who has been recovering from heart surgery.

The St. Louis Rams are trading their No. 2 pick in the draft and various reports across the web are saying Cleveland has what it needs to slide up. Obviously giving away the No. 4 pick could and would be part of a deal with St. Louis, but the Rams are also looking to grab Cleveland’s No. 22 slot, also in the first round. H&H (Holmgren and Heckert) are most certainly unwilling to part ways with that selection and so am I.

First of all, trading up to the two slot comes with a heavy price tag, and Cleveland doesn’t need one¬†player. They need multiple players at multiple positions. I’m fearing the possibility of Cleveland parting ways with multiple picks for one selection, which ultimately could backfire as easily as Tim Couch. Depth is key, RG3 is not, especially in a place with no weapons besides Greg Little (well, the best one anyways). Plus, Hillis might be joining the CIA, hear about that? Does he not know you can’t just sign up for the CIA like a kids’ rec basketball league?

All Browns fan have to realize the true reality of a not-so-awesome football team. Just roll with the punches, our time will come. At least I hope so.

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[1] Ashley Fox of ESPN has already pushed for the firing of Loomis and Payton: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/7645118/saints-coach-sean-payton-gm-mickey-loomis-deserve-fired-bounty-program

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