With Shaun Suisham in Town, the Cleveland Browns' Phil Dawson May Be Gone

J GatskieCorrespondent IMay 20, 2010

GREEN BAY, WI - AUGUST 15:  Kicker Phil Dawson #4 of the Cleveland Browns misses a field goal against the Green Bay Packers during the preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 15, 2009 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Phil Dawson is the last remaining original Cleveland Brown from when the team returned in 1999. He was conspicuously absent at the team's first organized team activity, or OTA.

When asked about Dawson's absence, GM Tom Heckert said, "I really don't want to get into it."

While the speculation is that Dawson is unhappy with his contract, Heckert said that the contract is "not the whole thing with him," adding, "He decided not to be there. It's not mandatory, so we can't make them be here. It's up to them."

The Browns had signed undrafted free agent kicker Leigh Tiffin from Alabama, but he was cut, and veteran Shaun Suisham was signed on Tuesday.

Dawson skipped voluntary offseason workouts last year also, but did report for mandatory minicamps and training camp. Aside from injury fill-ins, Dawson has been the only kicker the Browns have had since they returned.

In 2005, Dawson signed a five-year extension that pays him a base salary of $1 million in 2010, which makes him one of the lowest-paid veteran kickers in the league.

In 167 games with the Browns, Dawson has made 229 field goals with an 83.3 percent accuracy rate.

He ranks third on the Browns' all-time list with 966 points, and his career field goal percentage is in the top 10 in NFL history.

The Browns have shown little patience so far this offseason with their restricted free agent holdouts, and Dawson, who is not a restricted free agent and is under contract, may be setting himself up to lose his job.

Suisham had an excellent year in 2009 split between Washington and Dallas. He made 20 out of 24 field goals and 25 out of 26 extra points.

Suisham, who finished his college career as Bowling Green's all-time leading scorer, has appeared in 57 NFL games with Dallas and Washington.

He has made 87 of 110 (.790) field goal attempts and 101 of 103 extra points.

Suisham does kick off, so the Browns wouldn't have to carry an extra player for that duty and could conceivably carry that fourth quarterback.

Is Phil Dawson setting himself up to lose his job?

The only player the Browns under Mike Holmgren and Heckert have renegotiated with is Josh Cribbs, and they made it abundantly clear that Cribbs had outperformed his contract.

Dawson missed five games last year and plays a position that can be easily replaced with a phone call.

He doesn't have history with the new management regime, and he is coming off an injury-plagued season. Dawson is an above average NFL kicker but something tells me Holmgren and Heckert look at kicker at as a fluid position.

Personally, I think Dawson needs to find his way into camp if he wants to play for the Browns or ask for his release so he can find another job prior to training camp that will probably pay better.

Trying to force management's hand is unlikely to work. Look at the Matt Roth situation. Continuing to hold out can only hurt.