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Report: Browns were 10 seconds from drafting Teddy Bridgewater over Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns

How certain were the Cleveland Browns that Johnny Manziel was their guy when they traded up to the No. 22 spot in the first round of the draft? That depends on who you ask.

According to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, there is a “story going around” that Browns general manager Ray Farmer was about to select Teddy Bridgewater with the 22nd pick when team owner Jimmy Haslam stepped in at the last second.

A source told me that the card prepared to be given to Commissioner Roger Goodell for the official announcement in Radio City Music Hall originally had Bridgewater’s name on it. Then with 10 seconds to go, a new card replaced it with the name of Johnny Manziel, as a result of owner Jimmy Haslam’s order.

Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert told Grossi that he was in the draft room and that never happened. Farmer reiterated that Haslam did not force the Browns’ football people into making any decisions on draft day.

“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that Jimmy Haslam at no point demanded, requested or tried to influence the process in any way,” Farmer said. “He definitely asked questions. He’ll definitely give his opinion of what he thinks and all of those things are fine, but at the end of the day he trusted the football staff to make the decisions that we thought were the right decisions for this football team.”

There has been little to no buzz surrounding the Browns over the past several years, so you can understand why Haslam would have wanted to pick Manziel. He’s also a very good football player who brings a winning attitude. Plus, Haslam said a homeless person convinced him to draft Manziel when he was out to dinner days before the draft. There’s no way the change was made with 10 seconds left on the clock, right?

H/T The Big Lead

Vince Young will work out for the Browns

Vince YoungVince Young said last week that he has received some interest from NFL teams, and he was apparently telling the truth. On Monday, Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer confirmed an earlier rumor that Young and Tyler Thigpen will be given an opportunity to work out for the team.

“I think it’s a piece of the puzzle,” Farmer said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “I wouldn’t say it’s the top piece. They both are mobile. They both are very good athletes. They both have had relative success — I know Vince you would easily say probably more than Tyler. That’s a good piece. I think (offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan) would tell you that he likes a quarterback that is mobile. The offense definitely is going to require the quarterback to do different things, play outside the pocket to some degree.”

Both Young and Thigpen have been invited to participate in voluntary veterans minicamp, which will run from Tuesday to Thursday at the Browns’ facility. Young is now 30 and has not played in an NFL game since 2011, but Farmer said he has done enough to catch Cleveland’s eye.

“The interest in Vince is that he’s been productive,” he said. “He’s had success in the NFL. We wanted to take the opportunity to get a chance to see where he was. We had been kind of following him through the offseason and he had been doing some things that kind of caught our eye and made us kind of take note and wanted to see what that looked like in his own timeframe.”

When the Green Bay Packers released Graham Harrell last offseason, it looked like Young was destined to win a spot on the roster. Things never worked out, and he remained unemployed for the remainder of the season. The Browns will likely be looking to draft a quarterback next month, so they are in the market for a veteran backup. And hey, Vince could certainly use the money.

Browns’ free agent board leaked before press conference?

Cleveland Browns free agent board

Did a Cleveland Browns’ free agent board get exposed before a press conference on Wednesday to discuss some of the team’s moves? It sure looks like it, at least somewhat.

A Browns fan spotted the board as first-year GM Ray Farmer came out of a room before Wednesday’s press conference and posted a screenshot of it on Reddit.

The board lists a handful of teams in each column and a player from each team. It sure looks like a board indicating some of the players the team is targeting, but the team is trying to cover its tracks.

A few Browns reporters say the board is in the web crew’s video room. The names are supposedly of players they would need to compile video highlights for in case they are signed.

Hmm, that sure sounds to me just like what we thought — the board showed a list of players the Browns were interested in. Let them deny all they want.

H/T Dawgs By Nature

Browns claim they didn’t interview Johnny Manziel at NFL Combine

Johnny ManzielCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine revealed on Monday that the team chose not to interview Johnny Manziel at the NFL Combine last week. Either Pettine is lying, or the Browns are going to great lengths to pretend they have no interest in Manziel.

Teams are allowed 60 interviews at the Combine during which they can speak to players for 15 minutes. The Browns have the fourth overall pick and are obviously in need of a quarterback, so you would think they would have interviewed the top four quarterbacks on their draft board at the very least. Is Manziel not one of the four?

“We didn’t speak to him at the Combine,” Pettine said, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. “I didn’t personally. He was not part of the formal interviews.”

Many experts believe that Manziel will be taken by either the Houston Texans or Jacksonville Jaguars, who both pick ahead of Cleveland. The Browns, who also hold the No. 26 pick in the first round of the draft, could opt to take a player like wide receiver Sammy Watkins at No. 4 and wait to draft a quarterback like Derek Carr later.

Pettine stressed that the team will have plenty of information on all of its targets before May 8.

“As we evaluate those positions, we’ll make sure that whatever access or interaction we need with that player, we’ll get that done,” he said.

We already know of one team that may favor Carr over Manziel, so I guess it is not impossible. Still, it seems like a smokescreen. The Browns may want other teams to think they didn’t interview Manziel in order to help the former Texas A&M star slip to them at No. 4. Time will tell.

49ers deny trying to trade Jim Harbaugh to Browns

Jim Harbaugh layers fat

San Francisco 49ers sources deny that they had a trade in place to send Jim Harbaugh to the Cleveland Browns, according to a report.

On Friday, Pro Football Talk reported that the Browns nearly pulled off a trade for Harbaugh that would have seen the team send San Francisco multiple draft picks in exchange for the coach. Mike Florio said the deal was in place but Harbaugh decided not to leave the team.

In response to the report, a Browns PR spokesman sent out this statement, which is vague and does not deny an attempt to lure Harbaugh.

“That search produced an outstanding head coach in Mike Pettine and we’re excited about his future with the club. The team conducted an extensive coaching search, and explored several options.”

However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted the following, which shows he received a strong denial.

Rapoport later said he received denials from two 49ers sources.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen added some more context and background to the story.

The two reporters said on “NFL Live” that after firing Rob Chudzinski, the Browns started to think outside the box for their next hire. That led them to explore the possibility of trading for Harbaugh, whose favorite team growing up supposedly was the Cleveland Browns. They said it was a scenario that was discussed but never went very far and that the team didn’t even know if the commissioner would approve such a trade.

I can believe that the Browns explored this possibility, but I’m guessing PFT characterizing the deal as being close and “nearly” happening is a stretch.

Think about it: why wouldn’t the Browns want Harbaugh? Knowing that Harbaugh hadn’t signed an extension with San Francisco, they probably figured it was an option worth exploring.

Reporter asks Cleveland Browns if they’re run by The Three Stooges (Video)

19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Jimmy HaslamThe Cleveland Browns sure seem like they’re run by “The Three Stooges,” and one brazen reporter even decided to ask them if they were.

Action News 19 reporter Dan DeRoos pulled one of those “I want to ask you an embarrassing question but I can’t ask it on my own,” so he phrased his question to team owner Jimmy Haslam indirectly. DeRoos cited comments left on the news station’s Facebook page when asking whether the team was run by “The Three Stooges,” as fans believe.

The Browns’ “Three Stooges” would be Haslam, Joe Banner and GM Mike Lombardi.

Haslam responded to DeRoos in a defensive manner, assuring the team’s fans that they have competent leadership in charge of the team.

“I feel really confident that we have the right people to take this team where we want to,” Haslam said. “We have the best fans in the world. I’ve said our fans deserve betters.”

Haslam also said nobody would work harder than them to make the Browns a winner.

The Browns have been taking a lot of heat for firing Rob Chudzinski after just one year on the job. Chud didn’t have much to work with in terms of quarterback play, and that is a big reason why the team went 4-12. But if they feel like the team got worse as the season went on — and it did — then it was a wise decision to fire Chud and look for a new coach, even if it was an unfair one.

H/T Sporting News

Cleveland Browns player calls team a ‘joke’ for firing Rob Chudzinski

Rob ChudzinskiReports say the Cleveland Browns will fire Rob Chudzinksi, and many of the team’s players disagree with the decision.

NFL Network’s Mike Silver shared a few text messages he received from Browns players. He says the emotions from the players ranged from “bewildered to furious,” and the response he received makes it seem like the players think the organization is making a dumb move if they fire the coach after just one season.

Silver shared that another player told him the organization is a “joke”:

Though many players seem to support Chud, another isn’t fond of him. Take this from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller:

The Browns lost 20-7 to Pittsburgh on Sunday for their seventh straight loss, leaving them 4-12. The team made it clear they were stocking up for next season when they traded former No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson after two weeks. Their quarterback situation was bad, and the one guy who did look good — Brian Hoyer — suffered a season-ending injury. If the Browns indeed fire Chud, they will have done so without giving him a fair shake.