The Cleveland Browns promised to be active through free agency, and through almost two full days of action, they are keeping that promise.
The Browns have already addressed three positions of need on defense, signing linebacker/defensive end Paul Kruger, linebacker Quentin Groves (a former disciple of new defensive coordinator Ray Horton in Arizona) and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant in the first phase of NFL free agency.
On Wednesday, they also re-signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya (via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) and picked up a tight end replacement for Ben Watson with former Carolina Panthers TE Gary Barnidge (via Ohio.com).
With those new additions in the fold, there's a good chance the Browns could be in the mix for some more offensive positions (offensive line, receiver) in the coming days, and will then focus their attention the 2013 NFL draft and what to do with the No. 6 pick.
However, the Browns aren't done wheeling and dealing just yet, and we've got you covered on the latest chatter about what Rob Chudzinski and his new coaching staff are doing to help the Browns contend in the AFC North.
QB Ryan Mallett
Sure, the Browns have late-20s QB Brandon Weeden and former Texas great Colt McCoy, but good competition should never be overstated at the QB position.
Cabot reported (via the Plain Dealer) that the Browns still had major interest in Mallett as of last night, although the Patriots would be razor-thin at the position behind aging Tom Brady. Here's an excerpt from her piece, and what it's likely going to take to get a deal done:
Cleveland fans: Who would you rather have?
But the Boston Globe recently reported that the Patriots would be willing to part with him now that starting QB Tom Brady has been signed to a blockbuster $60 million deal. The paper reported it would take at least a second-round pick to get Mallett.
Mallett had a lot of promise coming out of Arkansas two seasons ago but hasn't had the chance to show out with Brady in front of him. By opening up the QB competition in Cleveland, the coaching staff is in a win-win situation. If Weeden plays well then the faith the front office showed in him with the No. 22 pick last year will be affirmed.
If not, they'll have an even younger option with a huge arm going forward. Stay tuned—it seems Cleveland isn't giving up on Mallett in a trade just yet.
At the start of free agency, it appeared that the market for the former pass-rushing demon from Detroit was expected to have a major market for his services.
So far, no clear team has emerged.
Although the Browns have solved some of their pass-rushing needs by signing the world champion Kruger, there's still a chance that Avril might eat into some of that other cap space before free agency is over.
There haven't been many reports that Cleveland is heating up on signing Avril, but reports from other teams help give us clues that he still might be available.
Just exchanged texts with someone who should know and was told #colts not in play at this point for Cliff Avril. I trust the voice.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) March 13, 2013
Kruger is already in town, and Avril could soon follow—based on a limited market and the Browns' need to load up on defense. Don't be surprised if they try and wait him out and then pounce when the timing is right.
Other News, Notes and Speculation
Here's a little bit of housekeeping from today's events, starting with a pair of Browns that won't be back with the team in 2013.
LB Kaluka Maiava signed a new deal on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. He'll be going to the Oakland Raiders on a three-year contract, maybe putting the Browns in the market for more depth at the position in the draft and/or the end of free agency.
Former Browns LB Kaluka Maiava signed with the Raiders: 3 years, $ 6 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
Fan favorite and longtime Brown Swiss Army knife Josh Cribbs will also be leaving the team.
According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, the Arizona Cardinals have staked a claim on the multi-talented skill player, signing him to a deal on Wednesday that should make for a dangerous return game in the desert between Cribbs and Patrick Peterson.
Also looking like Josh Cribbs will be signing with Cardinals as well. Story coming ASAP, too.— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) March 13, 2013
Since the Browns signed a tight end (Barnidge) on Wednesday, it could also potentially take them out of the market for both Watson and another tight end mentioned to be a Browns target—Fred Davis (via NFL.com).
What these past couple of days mean for Cleveland's plans for the draft should also be interesting. There might have been interest in a guy like Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah with the No. 6 pick, but after beefing up the front seven through free agency, things might be completely different on Cleveland's draft board.
Here's an interesting thought: What if the Browns are to play the bidding war between Buffalo and whoever else is interested in Geno Smith? If Smith is on the board at No. 6, there's a good chance Arizona and Buffalo would both be interested, making trading up an option for both—among other teams.
Whatever happens, it's clear that Cleveland can shift some of its focus away from the defensive line and on to other areas—and not feel like the team is making a mistake.
And that's always a good feeling.
For a complete look at what Cleveland has done and will do the rest of this offseason period, make sure you stay glued to Bleacher Report's Browns Free Agency Tracker, located here.