Category Archives: Seattle Seahawks

Vikings open bidding, add drama to draft

The 2012 NFL Draft more or less starts with the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings have officially started trying to sell their pick.

On Thursday, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman announced that his team has narrowed its pool of potential picks at No. 3 overall to Southern California left tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

Spielman’s not doing that as a favor to his fans, those players or as any kind of contract negotiating ploy. He’s telling the other 31 teams in this draft — six or eight them, in particular — that the Vikings are open to discussion about trading that pick.

This is especially relevant to the Browns, who sit right behind the Vikings at No. 4. We heard from Browns GM Tom Heckert on Thursday that his team knows who it’s going to pick if it stays at No. 4.

The Browns’ window for high-level negotiation in the top third of the draft probably passed six weeks ago when they were outbid by the Redskins in trying to trade up to No. 2 and having the chance to draft Robert Griffin III. That was a closed auction, with the Rams vowing not to drive up bids of competing teams.

What the Vikings are trying to do is conduct an open auction, bringing back as much as possible for that third pick. Such is business in the NFL and atop the draft.

When Heckert talked Thursday, he shared details and philosophies. He said the Browns will always be open to discussion and to adding picks if they can still get a player they covet. He didn’t give away any trade secrets, but he shared solid information.

In general, we should probably hear more of Heckert talking personnel and less of the team president talking about not asking him playoff tickets, but that’s for another day.

For more — and more direct praise of Heckert — check Pat McManamon’s article from Friday afternoon.

The first two picks of this draft are all but set in stone. That the Browns, picking fourth, would have their choice narrowed to two players going into it isn’t as much a victory for fortune tellers as it is for simple mathematics. The only way the Browns don’t get their Plan A Player is if he goes at No. 3 overall.

The Vikings are dangling that No. 3 pick. They want the Browns to call about it. They want the Bucs and the Dolphins to call about it, too.

If we’re sure the Browns’ Plan A Player is Trent Richardson, some nervous moments are ahead.

(For what it’s worth: I’m rarely right, but I’m pretty sure Richardson is the Browns’ Plan A Player).

The Bucs, at No. 5, could covet Richardson as well and have enough veterans in place to be able to afford to give up draft assets to get up to No. 3. The wildcard in the entire draft remains Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. We think we know the Bucs don’t want Blackmon, and it would be a huge surprise if the Vikings really wanted Blackmon over a tackle or cornerback, but the Vikings have to play up whatever element of surprise, uncertainty and anxiousness are out there.

The draft is next Thursday. For its first uncertain pick, the bidding is open.

Dear Browns: Go get Flynn

It’s not simple, it won’t be cheap and it’s certainly risky. It pretty much has to be done.

At this point, the Browns have to sign Matt Flynn.

Right?

Consistently losing isn’t simple or much fun, either. As usual, the case with the Browns and exactly how they’re going to go about upgrading and improving is a complicated one, and the NFL’s new league year opened at 4 p.m. Tuesday with nary a peep from the Browns except some restricted free agent tenders and extensions for infamous tight end/surprise ball carrier Alex Smith and backup offensive lineman John Greco. You almost can’t make this stuff up.

Later Tuesday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the Browns have had discussions with Flynn, who’s now a free agent after serving as Aaron Rodgers’ backup. The circumstances that took Robert Griffin III out of the Browns’ plans also narrowed Flynn’s options, and to some extent he’s waiting on Peyton Manning’s grand decision as well. But Flynn knows he finally has a chance to be a starter, and as a former seventh-round pick he’s going to be look to cash in not only like he never has, but probably like he never dreamed.

From a little Twitter dabbling on Tuesday, I see that mentioning Flynn and my thought that the Browns need to get him was a little like the previous discussion on Griffin. Some fans say the Browns absolutely need to pay whatever is asked and get him. Some say absolutely no, the Browns should stay away?

To that camp, I have to wonder out loud: What do you want the Browns to do? Isn’t the goal to improve and to win? When, exactly, do you want your favorite team to get around to this whole winning thing?

You can argue that Flynn is unproven and that any quarterback who’s going to play in an orange helmet still needs a significant upgrade in the talent surrounding him, and both of those thoughts are right to some extent — maybe to a great extent. You can also argue that Flynn is not a big, big-armed quarterback, but it appears the Browns are going to run the West Coast Offense and value accuracy and command of that offense over those physical attributes.

Considering the goal is to play meaningful games in December and January in Cleveland’s less than pleasant winter climate, you can argue that. You can not argue that the Browns finally sticking with a plan and looking to upgrade within that plan is a sign of at least some sort of progress.

You also can not argue that Colt McCoy is better than Matt Flynn. I don’t care if he was playing the Washington Generals and starting corner Hank Poteat was hurt, Flynn threw six touchdown passes in a game last season. That’s more than a month for many a recent Browns quarterback, not just the latest one.

More importantly, you can not argue that the Browns having some sort of answer at quarterback puts them in position to maximize their assets in the draft. It absolutely, positively, unequivocally does.

Building through the draft is a good idea, and an important one. But the idea is not to have another top-five pick for a long time, and only a unique set of circumstances can give you three of the first 37 picks in a draft like the Browns have this year. Get a quarterback now, get three really good players atop this draft who can become a part of this core you’re building and selling.

Repeat: Draft three league-ready, impact-making players at other positions of need (there are many) and upgrade your roster now. Under that scenario, the Rams may even panic over Justin Blackmon and give you two more draft picks to get up two spots in the first round, from No. 6 to No. 4. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Browns can sign Flynn now and then shape a specific plan for how to proceed and find a pass rusher, secondary depth, a right tackle and some skill guys. Being the only team to start the League Year with no sure answer at quarterback, running back or wide receiver is a tough spot.

If other teams want to grossly overpay for veteran receivers like they did Tuesday, let them. The Browns didn’t need my advice on that. But when it comes to the GAME’S MOST IMPORTANT POSITION, the one they’ve been trying to fill and fix and patch for the whole decade that they haven’t been making the postseason, they need to get that handled.

Trading up from No. 22 for Ryan Tannehill isn’t the answer. TJ Maxx in Strongsville will be selling his jerseys for 5 bucks four years from now and the Browns will be drafting No. 4 again. I’m not trying to write Flynn’s Hall of Fame induction speech or promise he’ll be great, but I do promise handing him the keys will instill a certain confidence in the current players and accelerate the timeline of the Browns getting back to competitiveness, relevance and big games.

Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

Get a quarterback, let everybody in your locker room know he’s the guy and go get some speed and talent to help that locker room. That’s the way to maximize the 2011 offseason, a(nother) important offseason for a team with a ton of chasing still to do. If you have a quarterback in place, you can be aggressive in the draft chasing running backs and wide receivers and those other need positions, too.

The way to do it is to sign Matt Flynn. If the Browns want to win whatever bidding is or will be going for Flynn, they can. And they should.

Redskins not high on Manning’s list?

The rumors and reports will come fast the next week as Peyton Manning decides on a new team.

Some of the first are not great for the Browns — because it sounds more and more like Manning will not join the Washington Redskins.

Then again, Daniel Snyder has not opened his wallet yet. And we all know what walks when money talks.

That being said, Manning is said to be more then reluctant to join a division that includes his brother. Eli is a fixture in New York, and that competition might be too close. It also might discourage him from joining the Jets. New York is big, but big enough for two Mannings is up for debate.

Too, Manning would prefer to stay in the AFC. At last check, Washington is in the NFC.

Finally, Manning would like a warm weather team or a team with a dome. Washington has neither.

All these factors seem to point to Miami, with a second tier of choices that includes Kansas City (brr)  or (if he can accept the NFC) Arizona or Seattle. Miami is a factor especially if Reggie Wayne also joins the Dolphins to form a triumvirate of Manning, Wayne and Brandon Marshall.

If Washington does not get Manning, they are back in the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes, which means the Rams would have the Redskins and (if they choose) the Browns competing for a trade to move up.

That means the Browns are back to having to give up both their first-round picks this year if they want to move up.

The happiest team in the league if Manning does indeed say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to the Redskins clearly will be the Rams.