The Cleveland Browns restricted free agents are playing with fire if they don't sign their tenders by June 15th. In all but one case, the tender amounts are raises of over a million dollars. It's obvious no other teams are willing to make significant offers for their services, so they should be grateful, sign their tenders, and come to camp.
On the 15th, the Browns can reduce the tender amounts to a 10 percent raise of each player's 2009 salary. Four of the five players—D'Qwell Jackson, Lawrence Vickers, Jerome Harrison, and Abe Elam—are all tendered the same amount of $1.759 million. Matt Roth is a fifth-year player and was tendered $1.809 million.
In Jackson's case, that comes out to a $64,000 raise from a 2010 salary of $704,000, or $12,350 a tackle, when he could have $1.759 million just by signing the tender. The difference between the two numbers is $1.055 million.
Jackson has been a solid NFL linebacker who led the NFL in tackles with 154 in 2008. Despite his gaudy tackling numbers, he has never been known as a playmaker and has only three sacks, four interceptions, and one forced fumble in four years.
Harrison made $539,160, or $625 a yard, to slice through defenses in 2009, which when added to a 10 percent raise would give him a 2010 salary of $593,076. Harrison would lose $1,165,924 between that and the tender.
Jerome Harrison has rushed for only 1,310 yards in four seasons and 286 came in one memorable game. Harrison is a talented back but the Browns need to see more production before they commit multiple years and millions to him.
Vickers was paid $535,390 to bust up linebackers last year. A 10 percent raise would net him $588,929 for 2010. If he declines the tender he nets $1,170,071 less in 2010.
Lawrence Vickers is a prototypical NFL fullback who loves nothing more than busting up linebackers and creating holes for Jerome Harrison and Montario Hardesty. He deserves a multi-year deal commensurate with the top fullbacks in the league.
According to Bleacher Report and USA Today, Elam made $1.2 million last year, which added to a 10 percent raise gives him $1.32 million. If Elam elects not to sign the tender he could face a loss of $439,000.
Abe Elam is a solid safety who looked better than he actually is due to the dearth of talent playing around him in 2009. He led the Browns in tackles in 2009. Expect Larry Asante to give him a run for his job all season, and if he doesn't actually win it outright, then Elam will be a better safety for the competition.
Roth made $700,000 in 2009 and was tendered as a fifth-year player at $1.809 million. If Roth refuses to sign his tender then he could be forced to play at $770,000, which would be a potential loss of $1,039,000.
Roth was a head case in Miami and now we are starting to find out why such a talent was available on the waiver wire. He reportedly disagreed with management over a number of issues. I do not expect the Browns to accede to his trade demands regardless of his posturing or threats.
I don't get the feeling from Berea that team president Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert can, or will, be pushed around by Drew Rosenhaus, Brian Mackler or any other agent and especially not if they attempt to use the media as a tool to try to extort a deal.
At the end of business tomorrow, I expect all of the Browns to be signed, sealed, and ready for training camp.
The only players I foresee possibly pushing the envelope are Jackson and Roth. Jackson is a victim of a lousy agent more than anything, while I truly think Roth is a tad delusional since he was a waiver wire pickup and now wants a multi-million dollar contract.