Donte Stallworth's Legal Troubles Causing WR Troubles for Cleveland Browns
Reports that prosecutors in Florida are poised to charge Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth with DUI manslaughter stemming from a March 14 car accident that killed 59-year-old Mario Reyes would leave a big question mark at the WR position for the Browns.
Stallworth, if charged and convicted, is facing a possible second-degree felony in the state of Florida, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, according to Florida state law.
Blood tests taken at the scene of the accident have yet to be determined, but police in Miami "seem pretty confident that they’re going to charge him,” an NFL source told Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole. “Even if he [is] clean, I think the police feel he’s going to be charged with something, regardless.”
In 2008, Stallworth signed a seven-year, $35 million contract with the Browns and was due a $4.75 million guaranteed roster bonus the day before the accident.
With the recent release of WR Joe Jurevicious on March 11 and the possible loss of Stallworth, the Browns could be in desperate need of a veteran WR. According to ClevelandBrowns.com, the current roster would consist of Braylon Edwards, Joshua Cribbs, Syndric Steptoe, Lance Leggett, and Paul Hubbard....not a very impressive corps.
Some could argue that Cribbs, known for his kick-return ability, would be able to step up and play a larger role in the Browns offense, but this remains to be seen.
So, where do the Browns go from here?
The new regime of head coach Eric Mangini and general manager George Kokinis has been fairly quiet during the free-agent period up to this point, unlike the big splashes former GM Phil Savage made the last few years.
The additions of Eric Barton, David Bowens, C.J. Mosley, Hank Poteat, and Floyd Womack show that Mangini and Kokinis are dedicated to bringing in quality veterans to help solidify this roster, but it now seems that they will need to address another concern at wide receiver.
There are quite a few notable WRs still available on the market right now, including Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Lance Moore (RFA), Ike Hilliard, Jerry Porter, Amani Toomer, Reggie Williams, Koren Robinson, Dante Hall, and Bobby Engram, to name a few.
Moore, who was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005 by the Browns, made a name for himself in 2008 while playing for the Saints, catching 79 balls for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns. He could be on the radar.
Another possible target could be former Colts go-to guy, Marvin Harrison. Released by the Colts on Feb. 29, Harrison has garnered little interest from NFL clubs, primarily due to his age and possible monetary needs. The eight-time Pro Bowler would bring instant credibility to the locker room that could also translate onto the field as a No. 2 receiver behind Braylon Edwards.
At 36, Harrison has lost a step or two, but could easily fill the shoes of a Donte' Stallworth, who was hampered by injuries and only managed to bring in 17 balls for 170 yards and one touchdown last season.
Former Rams WR Torry Holt is also looking for a job, and, like Harrison, is a solid veteran who would be an upgrade over someone like Joshua Cribbs. Since making his debut in 1999, Holt has been selected to seven Pro Bowls and helped lead the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV. Being that Holt is only 32, he may receive more attention from the Browns than Harrison would.
Besides free agency, the Browns also hold the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft, where Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree is the top WR prospect. However, according to Mel Kiper, Crabtree may be taken just one spot ahead of the Browns at No. 4 by the Seattle Seahawks.
At this point, it becomes a waiting game, and a lot of questions still need to be answered. Does Stallworth get charged? If so, how long will he be out? Regardless of what happens with Stallworth, do the Browns start making phone calls now to lock up a veteran WR, or do they wait for the draft?
What we do know is the Browns are picking up the pieces of a broken organization left behind by Phil Savage, and this situation does not lend a helping hand to that effort. Hopefully, a veteran WR would lend a pair of helping hands to put the Browns back on track.
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