As predicted, players have become conspicuous by their absence at the Cleveland Browns OTAs.
While D’Qwell Jackson, Abram Elam, Lawrence Vickers, and Jerome Harrison skipped the workouts while jockeying for new contracts, kicker Phil Dawson also declined to participate.
Dawson also skipped voluntary workouts last year in what was believed to be a message to management he wanted a new contract.
Dawson now is in the last year of his contract and undoubtedly wants an extension, especially considering he seemed to be the team’s leading scorer at one point in the 2009 season.
Dawson, 35, who will be entering his 13th year with Cleveland, still has a lot of life left in his leg. Kickers can and do play into their 40s.
Dawson has a career 83.3 percent completion rate on his field goals and notably has become part of the NFL rulebook with the “Dawson Rule.”
The Dawson rule was enacted after a 51-yard kick went through the uprights, clanged off the crossbar, and ricocheted back through the uprights and was called no good until the officials huddled and correctly called it a good field goal.
NFL rules now allow kicks that hit the uprights or crossbar to be reviewed.
Back to the holdout, Dawson is in the best position of any of the guys trying to make a statement due to his contributions and 2007 Pro Bowl appearance.
That doesn’t mean the Browns are sitting back, though, as they signed Leigh Tiffin out of Alabama to handle kicking duties through this camp.
This doesn’t mean Dawson will get a new contract this year—of all positions, kicker is the most easily replaced. However, Dawson has been an exceptionally good kicker, and just casually tossing him aside wouldn’t be the smartest move.
But with Matt Roth demanding a trade—which general manager Tom Heckert said was not going to happen—Abram Elam demanding a multi-year deal, and the team’s current “best” running back also demanding a better deal, Dawson may be low on Heckert’s priority list at the moment.
If you’re looking for predictions, right now I’d say Dawson gets a new deal just prior to training camp opening in July, Harrison signs his tender right before the deadline, and Elam, Roth, and Jackson become very unhappy players.
In a bit of housekeeping here, it's worth noting the Browns signed a few more undrafted free agents, defensive lineman Kwaku Danso, defensive back Matthew Harris, tight end Ryan Moya, defensive lineman Brian Sanford, and defensive lineman Martin Tavaseu.
Notable by not being signed was YouTube prospect Joel Reinders and quarterback Graham Harrell.
This doesn't mean these guys might not get another shot this season, but they're done in Cleveland for the moment.