Is the Cleveland Browns Answer to Wide Receiver Woes Already on the Roster?

Bob Evans@@TheRealBobEvansCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 7:   Donte Stallworth #18 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball during the game against the Tennessee Titans on December 7, 2008 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Let’s face it: the 2009 Cleveland Browns had a lot of problems. 

Some people seem to think that everything is going to be all right since this was the first Browns team to win four games in a row since 1994.

They feel that the team is just fine because they were only the fourth to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1999.

Oh, how quickly we forget about the team that started 1-11.

After the 13th week of the season, fans were calling for Mangini’s head.  These same fans were ready to run onto the field and show our secondary how to cover a receiver.  We wanted to take part in the right side of the line to give our quarterback, whoever that was, some time to read the defense.

But nothing was more frustrating than watching our Wide Receivers.

When the season started, the Browns receiving lineup featured Braylon “Butterfingers” Edwards, Mike Furrey, Josh Cribbs, and two rookies—Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie.

The job of a wide receiver is to CATCH THE BALL.  This was a concept that our group of receivers couldn’t seem to grasp.

Led by Braylon Edwards, the man who makes T.O. look like a possession receiver, these receivers dropped more passes than any other team in the NFL through the first part of the season.

Then Eric Mangini did all of Cleveland a favor.  He shipped Braylon to the bright lights of New York.

Fans thought this move would help the case of the dropsies that had come over our receivers, but it didn’t.  In fact, Chansi Stuckey (who we received in the trade for Braylon) dropped three passes in his first game.

As the season went on, Mohamed Massaquoi emerged as our No. 1 receiver for the season, but still showed mental errors when running routes.  Not to mention he was among the league leaders in dropped passes.

Brian Robiskie, the “most polished receiver in the draft,” hardly set foot on the field.  I am not sure whether that was due to something that happened between him and Mangini, or a lack of work ethic, but at least he could catch the ball when thrown to him. 

The only bright spot our team had in catching the ball was Evan Moore, the mid-season addition at tight end.

How is it that one team could have this many problems at a position that has been “catching” the ball their entire lives?  My answer: a lack of veteran leadership.

Cleveland Browns receivers lack a veteran leader that can actually be a threat in the offense.  Mike Furrey is a great leader and teammate, but the fact is that he makes little contribution on offense.

The answer for this veteran leader and potential weapon: Donte Stallworth.

Don’t laugh, I am actually being serious. 

If Stallworth is retained after this season, his speed and good hands could be the asset that this team craves.

I understand that he has a history of hamstring problems, as well as the manslaughter that had him sit out all of 2009.  But that’s what makes him perfect.

The younger guys will have the opportunity to learn from a player who is hungry.  This is a man who has everything to prove to the league, to the fans, and to himself.  He will be able to convey the right message to the players through his mistakes and experiences.

Chances are that Donte won’t be retained. 

His contract was for seven years and $35 million, which makes cutting him a cost saving move for the team.

However, if the team decides to keep him because they don’t want to take the cap hit for this season by cutting him, Donte Stallworth could prove to be an asset that this team didn’t see coming.

So Browns fans dust off your No. 18 jerseys, because Donte is coming….and he’s ready to play!

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