Friday, August 03, 2007

Browns can't win

Brady Quinn doesn’t think his contract demands are unreasonable but he admits that his agent, Tom Condon, is handling everything. We can only speculate as to what is really going on. Quinn claims that the sticking point is the incentive clause he wants included should he become an effective starting quarterback.

Pundits and Browns’ fans seem to think Brady Quinn is asking for too much. Suddenly he is overrated and fortunate that the Browns saw fit to end his draft day free fall. While there were some scouts and insiders expressing concern that Brady Quinn wasn’t perfect, everybody seemed genuinely surprised that he fell to the 22nd spot. The Browns weren’t alone in their quest to secure a second first round pick to acquire Quinn as several teams were actively trying to negotiate a trade after Miami passed on Quinn for Ted Ginn Jr.

The Browns forfeited their leverage in this negotiation process when they made such a fuss over Brady Quinn before the draft. Before Jamarcus Russell wowed everybody with his arm, Brady Quinn was the top-ranked quarterback. People questioned his ability to win big games but when they considered the fact that he wasn’t surrounded by the same talent his chief rivals enjoyed that point became less important. Besides, that was the big knock on Peyton Manning until this past Super Bowl. Quinn would be just fine.

Initially the Browns looked poised to take Quinn. Russell was the top pick and a lot of people thought that Detroit would take Joe Thomas over Calvin Johnson because Detroit had plenty of talented receivers and no means of getting them the ball. The Browns would then be forced to choose between Adrian Peterson and Brady Quinn since they weren’t in the market for a receiver either. The Browns were enamored with Quinn.

Even when it became clear that Joe Thomas would be available the Browns, in spite of dire needs on the line, were still smitten by Quinn. They finally decided that Joe Thomas was the best choice but went out of their way to smooth it over with Quinn by contacting him the night before and explaining the decision to him. It was a classy move on the team’s part.

Then teams passed on Quinn and the circus began. When the Browns finally acquired the pick that brought Brady to Cleveland the front office gushed. They bragged about how highly they had Quinn rated and paraded him around like some kind of trophy. The future was now and Brady was an integral part of it.

So why are the Browns surprised that Brady Quinn is holding out for a better deal than your average 22nd pick would dare to ask for? Could it be because Brady Quinn knows he isn’t the average 22nd pick? Everybody seemed stunned that the Dolphins passed on him with the ninth pick so Quinn’s got to believe he’s worth top 10 money and then the Browns made it clear that they viewed him as valuable a selection as Joe Thomas. This made it easy for Tom Condon.

Teams will often take a quarterback with a third or fourth round pick to shake things up and challenge a veteran who might be getting complacent. The Patriots did that with Tom Brady a few years back and look how it turned out. But Quinn wasn’t some diamond in the rough. He was viewed by everybody as a ready made franchise quarterback and the Browns made no effort to disguise their excitement in landing him.

They showed Quinn their cards at the start of the game and now they want to bluff. Romeo Crennel is pretending that he’ll pick his starter after the first preseason game but word out of camp indicates that neither Charlie Frye nor Derek Anderson seem ready to lead this team. The quarterback position in Cleveland is as wide open as it ever was and Brady Quinn isn’t losing any ground by working out in Arizona with other big name players who are holding out for better contracts. How can the Browns win when Quinn knows what he is worth and has veteran NFL players encouraging him to stay firm in his demands?

The Browns have nothing to bargain with. They need Brady Quinn more than he needs them. In fact, Quinn would be better served to sit out the entire year and end up with a good team that needs to replace an old quarterback. Cleveland has already ruined one highly rated QB prospect. If he can’t get the contract he wants in Cleveland he’s better off taking less money to play elsewhere.

Everybody knows that the Browns are going to blink. They want Quinn in camp. They banked their future on him. Next year Dallas is going to have Cleveland’s first round pick and there’s a good chance it’s going to be in the top five. So give Quinn top five money and get him into camp. Phil Savage made this bed and might as well lay in it.

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