Browns Rumors

Josh McCown Retires From NFL

After 17 years in the NFL, Josh McCown is calling it a career. On Monday, the longtime QB bid farewell to the game in a post on The Player’s Tribune

At the end of the day, no matter what team I was on, I tried to serve it to the best of my ability, and I tried to influence my team in a positive manner. I hope I did that,” McCown wrote. “And I made sure that when my number was called, I was prepared, and I gave it everything I had, every time. I may not have turned out to be the franchise quarterback I set out to be back at Cardinals rookie camp, but I’m extremely proud of the career I had.”

McCown didn’t become the face of the Cardinals as he had hoped, but he did enjoy nearly two decades in the NFL while spending time with ten different teams. His journey also included a pit stop in the UFL in 2010, a deal that almost didn’t come to pass when the Bears offered him a contract. Remarkably, McCown declined the opportunity in Chicago and stuck it out with the Hartford Colonials. He later said that the notion of bailing on the commitment “didn’t sit well” with him and he didn’t want to set a bad example for his children in which he would give his “word to somebody until something better comes along and then break that.”

McCown had some memorable moments on the field throughout his career, but he will largely be remembered for his high-character, intense work ethic, and willingness to help groom younger quarterbacks. After starting 13 games for the Jets in 2017, McCown put his ego aside and agreed to return to New York as a mentor for rookie Sam Darnold. Now, McCown will continue to put his football wisdom and knowledge to good use, either as a broadcaster or coach.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Notes: Kitchens, Monken, Mayfield, Johnson

New Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens hired former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken for the same role this offseason, but Monken’s transition has reportedly not gone well, according to Mike Silver of NFL.com (Twitter link). In turn, Kitchens has been forced to play a larger than expected role in “spearheading” Cleveland’s offense, per Silver. Kitchens had already been planning to call offensive plays in 2019, so it’s unclear what the issue regarding Monken might be. Speculatively, it’s possible Monken’s Air Raid background hasn’t meshed well with the offense that Kitchens is installing for the Browns.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • More from Silver, who indicates several Browns veterans weren’t pleased quarterback Baker Mayfield publicly criticized running back Duke Johnson, who is still asking for a trade out of Cleveland. Regarding Johnson, Mayfield said (among other things) “you’re either on this train or you’re not, it’s moving.” An unwritten NFL rule typically dictates that players don’t comment on teammates’ contractual situations, and it sounds like Mayfield was made aware of that concept. Per Silver, Mayfield and the Browns players who disagreed with his comments have “hashed things out.”
  • The Browns tried to claim cornerback Montrel Meander off waivers from the Raiders before the Jets beat them to the punch, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (Twitter link). Meander spent most of the 2018 campaign on Cleveland’s practice squad, and will now join former Browns/current Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in New York.
  • In case you missed it, the Browns last week added a former Raiders executive to their front office.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/6/19

On one end of the Thursday transactions: Carson Wentz. On the other: today’s minor moves.

Arizona Cardinals

  • Waived: T Andrew Lauderdale

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed: T Ka’John Armstrong

Detroit Lions

Washington Redskins

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Burns, Bengals

This could be the end of the line for Artie Burns‘ career with the Steelers, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The cornerback is due an $800K roster bonus on the first day of training camp, but if he can’t prove himself during minicamp, he’ll likely be released before he can collect that check.

The Steelers had high hopes for Burns after he notched six interceptions in his final season at Miami, but he’s regressed in each of his pro seasons. As a rookie, Burns tied for the team lead with three picks despite starting in only nine games. In 2017, he started in every game, but wasn’t as sharp in coverage and had just one interception. Then, last year, Burns was bumped from the starting lineup and mostly appeared on special teams in the second half of the season. The Steelers already passed on Burns’ fifth-year option for 2020 and they could be on the verge of giving up on him altogether. If they cut him, it’ll be yet another draft disappointment for the team at the cornerback position. As Bouchette notes, the club’s top three corners – Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton – all came from outside the draft.

Shifting to the teams that wear orange, here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • After acting as the Raiders’ interim GM in the wake of Reggie McKenzie‘s ouster, Shaun Herock did not stick with the Jon GrudenMike Mayock regime. But the longtime Oakland exec is expected to land on his feet. Herock is on the verge of joining the Browns, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Although Herock spent seven years in Oakland, he worked extensively with John Dorsey in Green Bay. Herock spent nearly two decades as the Packers’ assistant director of college scouting, working directly under Dorsey (the Packers’ college scouting director for most of that span). The Packers made three Super Bowl appearances during the duo’s time running the Pack’s scouting department. Herock will join ex-Green Bay execs Alonzo Highsmith and Eliot Wolf in Cleveland.
  • Here’s a bit of a surprise – Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic expects the Bengals to use linebacker Preston Brown in a three-down role this year. Brown was limited by injury in 2018, and he was placed on IR in November, but the club opted to bring him back on a one-year, $4MM deal in March. There was some speculation that the Bengals would still look for an upgrade at the middle linebacker position, but it sounds like Brown is primed for a key role on defense.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Browns Release OT Desmond Harrison

The Browns have waived tackle Desmond Harrison, according to a team announcement. Harrison joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent last year and went on to start eight games at left tackle, so his release comes as a surprise. 

Harrison was released because he was late and even missing appointments with the team, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. And, when addressing reporters, head coach Freddie Kitchens explained that Harrison missed the start of the team’s mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Given his talent and inexpensive contract, there’s a high probability of Harrison being claimed off waivers in the next 24 hours.

Harrison, 25, opened the 2018 season as the starter at left tackle before Greg Robinson took over in the second half of the season. This year, Harrison was expected to be a key sub, but the 6’6″ lineman will try to make it work elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Browns will likely turn to Kendall Lamm as their first tackle off of the bench.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns’ Duke Johnson Still Wants Trade

Good news for the Browns: running back Duke Johnson reported to Browns minicamp on Tuesday. Bad news for the Browns (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com): Johnson still wants a trade. 

Johnson told reporters that he felt slighted by the Browns’ previous efforts to trade him and wants to be with a team that wants him. He added that he wants a trade sooner rather than later so that he can acclimate to his new club, though he softened things a bit by saying that he’ll still show up to play if he remains in Cleveland.

Johnson, a pass-catching whiz out of the backfield, doesn’t appear to be a major part of the team’s plans this season. Rising sophomore Nick Chubb figures to be the focal point of the team’s running game while new addition Kareem Hunt will take a large share of the carries once his eight-game suspension is through.

Johnson, meanwhile, has averaged roughly 59 catches and 543 yards per season. Even last year when he saw only 40 carries behind Chubb and Carlos Hyde, he still managed 47 grabs for 429 yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

8 NFL Teams Have Wrapped Up Their Draft Classes

Roughly one-quarter of the NFL’s teams have signed every player in their draft class, as shown in PFR’s tracker. The front offices of the following clubs have a little bit less on their plate as mandatory minicamps get underway:

  • Cardinals
  • Falcons
  • Browns
  • Lions
  • Chiefs
  • Saints
  • Eagles
  • Steelers

While the league’s rookie slotting system has been criticized by some, there’s no denying that it has streamlined the signing process for the incoming class. Prominent first-round picks like Joey Bosa and Marcus Mariota have squabbled with teams over offset language in recent years and the third round lacks some structure due to flexibility in base salary, but, on the whole, rookies have been quicker to put pen to paper in recent years.

We’ll likely see several more teams wrap up their draft classes before the week is through. The Bills, Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, Texans, Colts, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Seahawks, Titans, and Redskins each have just one straggler remaining. Unsurprisingly, most of those unsigned players are third-rounders. The Vikings are a notable exception – seventh-round pick Austin Cutting is waiting to find out whether the Air Force will permit him to play instead of immediately fulfilling his two-year service requirement.

Latest On Browns’ Pursuit Of Gerald McCoy

We heard earlier tonight that the Browns may have made Gerald McCoy an offer that exceeded the deal he ultimately signed with the Panthers. However, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says that isn’t the case, as the Browns “weren’t touching” the $10.25MM maximum contract value he got with Carolina (Twitter link).

McCoy was set to make $13MM before he was released by the Buccaneers, and Cleveland was looking for him to “take a fairly sizable pay cut.” Fowler says the Browns ultimately pegged the 31-year-old as an $8MM player, which is what the defensive tackle ended up taking from the Panthers (without incentives). However, it’s uncertain if the Browns’ $8MM valuation accounted for incentives, and we don’t know if the guaranteed money would have exceed the $4MM he’ll be getting from Carolina.

Soon after McCoy’s release from Tampa Bay, the Browns were mentioned as potential suitors for McCoy. The Browns’ up-and-coming roster reportedly appealed to McCoy, although there was a chance the veteran would have had to play a reserve role in Cleveland. Head coach Freddie Kitchens even admitted as much last week.

“I know the more good football players you have, the better you are, the better rotation there is, the better you can get after a quarterback in a two-minute drive,” Kitchens said (via ESPN.com’s Tony Grossi). “There’s a staggering stat, like, 78 percent of two-minute drives, if you give up a sack, your chances of scoring goes to under 20 percent. He knows when we want to put pressure on the quarterback. He knows that’s what we’re going to be about. Hopefully he wants to be a part of it.”

The Browns added Sheldon Richardson earlier this offseason, and they also have former third-rounder Larry Ogunjobi slotted in as a starter. Of course, McCoy would have provided the team with a considerable upgrade over the likes of Trevon Coley and Brian Price.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Offered Gerald McCoy $8MM Guaranteed?

Gerald McCoy agreed to sign with the Panthers today, opting to remain the NFC South rather than venture to the Browns or Ravens in the AFC North. Apparently, though, Baltimore did everything it could to bring McCoy into the fold.

McCoy landed a one-year, $8MM pact from Carolina that could be worth as much as $10.25MM. However, only $4MM of that is guaranteed, and as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, the Ravens were willing to give McCoy double that amount in fully-guaranteed money (video link). RapSheet adds that the Browns also put together a strong package that may have surpassed the Panthers’ offer.

It’s unclear what incentives Baltimore or Cleveland were offering to enhance the value of their proposals, but many of the incentives in McCoy’s Panthers deal do not seem especially difficult to achieve (provided he remains healthy). McCoy is due $3MM in base pay — and it’s not as though the Panthers are going to cut him to avoid paying that salary — and he can earn $500K in camp roster bonuses, another $500K in 45-man per game bonuses, $500K if he tallies six sacks, and $1.5MM if he posts eight sacks. He also has playoff and Pro Bowl incentives. The eight-sack incentive may be a tall order, but the others are either very likely or at least attainable (and McCoy did tally 8.5 sacks in 2015, with totals of seven, six, and six in each of the past three seasons).

So in reality, McCoy may ultimately earn just as much in Carolina as he would have with the Ravens or Browns (both of whom also boast strong front-sevens). But McCoy was drawn to the camaraderie he saw during his visit with the Panthers, and he preferred to remain in the South. He enjoyed his visits to Cleveland and Baltimore but had reservations about the cities themselves.

Of course, the chance to exact revenge on the Bucs likely had at least some part in McCoy’s decision, especially with Tampa Bay giving McCoy’s No. 93 to new signee Ndamukong Suh.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gerald McCoy Hopes To Sign Today

Gerald McCoy‘s agent is actively negotiating with the Panthers, Browns, and Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). There’s no real timetable for McCoy to sign, though Rapoport notes that he would like to be on the field for the start of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, wherever he lands. 

McCoy drew interest from seemingly 1/3rd of the NFL, but the Ravens and Browns seem to be in the lead for his services. The Panthers have also made a strong push to land McCoy in an effort to give Kawann Short a quality partner on the interior.

McCoy has 54.5 career sacks to his credit and has not missed more than three games in a season since 2011. He’d be an instant difference maker for any of those three clubs and each team would offer him a chance to win in 2019.

Ultimately, it may come down to money for McCoy and his camp – the veteran has reportedly garnered offers as high as $11MM/year, but it’s hard to see him reaching that mark after Ndamukong Suh signed for less than $10MM with the Bucs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.