The good news for Savage is that he'll apparently be able to rest on Day 1 of the NFL draft in April given the fact it appears the Browns will have no picks until Day 2.
The Browns had no 1st round selection this April after dealing it to Dallas to acquire Brady Quinn in the 1st round last year. They dealt the 2nd round pick this season to Green Bay for Williams and then sent the 3rd round pick and oft-injured CB Leigh Bodden to Detroit for Rogers. All Stallworth cost was the cash the free agent from the Patriots received in his 6-year deal.
The Wrap couldn't be happier with these developments. It's not as if those 2nd and 3rd rounders have set the world on fire in recent years (see Wilson, Travis amongst others).
The glaring hole on this football team was the front seven in general and the defensive line in particular. The Browns moved quickly to address that weakness in acquiring Williams and Rogers. Even though a linebacker was not part of the flurry of acquisitions (though there are reports that Travis LaBoy, a DL/LB hybrid with the Titans, may be close to a deal with the Browns), one could reasonably expect the quality of play from the existing LBs and the DBs to improve by leaps and bounds with some quality play up front.
Given the upgrade on the defensive side of the ball you can live with a ton of cash being shipped DA's way over the next three years. For many, it's never been about an undying desire to see Brady Quinn at QB and DA playing elsewhere (although to be fair that's exactly what it's been for some). It was more about the fact that the defensive side of the ball was so sickly and having two QBs capable of leading a team was a luxury the Browns could not afford. Dealing DA was a way to acquire a couple picks to be used to get the defense some help. If you can do that without giving away your depth and quality at QB then that's the best of both worlds.
That's not to say The Wrap is a huge DA fan. On the contrary. He has holes in his game that have been addressed ad nauseam in this column and many others. But with some improvement in his short game he is capable of productively playing the position. And we're still not convinced he'll be here in September anyway, despite Phil Savage's promises otherwise.
"But Phil says DA isn't going anywhere", you say. Yes. That's what Phil said in February. And let's face it. GM's are slightly more credible than sports agents and jailhouse snitches. Savage was also the guy who, on February 28th, said there would be no increase in the 3-year, $20m offer to DA to keep him Cleveland. A day later DA was getting and accepting a 3-year, $26m offer from Savage to stay in Cleveland.
Savage is too smart and too involved to not see a potential divisive quarterback controversy coming down the pike. It would be surprising to many if both QBs were on the roster come September.
But for today, the Browns are a much better football team than they were a week ago. They have some depth at the QB and WR position on offense and have added some impact players on the DL. They also now control exactly if, which and when one of their surplus QBs goes. Not a bad weekend at all for Browns fans.
There have been no injuries reported (knock on wood), no player confrontations with other players or coaches thus far, no contract grumblings, no nothing. Just a squad that has few question marks getting ready to come north in a few weeks to start the '08 campaign.
Now that doesn't mean the boards have been quiet. Never.
Despite playing just a few Grapefruit League games folks on the board are sour on Andy Marte's ‘early production' or lack thereof, and are high on Michael Aubrey's first few games. This is a collision course of ‘boards mentality' and spring training in general. Aubrey went 4-5 over his first two games and some fans are convinced this production is a sign that the he's ready to put it all together and finally be a contributor rather than a spectator this season. Aubrey has seemingly missed more games than he's played with a variety of knee, back and assorted other injuries since being drafted in the first round of the 2003 amateur draft.
Early on Marte has scuffled offensively and defensively in Florida. That's more worrisome than overreacting to Aubrey's success. Minor league-‘o-philes are concerned that Marte will be overlooked come the regular season and that Casey Blake will again see the majority of action at 3b again this year. Never mind that Marte has never done anything to move Blake out of the lineup. If Marte can't produce enough to push Blake, what does that say about Marte and why complain about Blake?
In any event, the Marte and Aubrey situations are not unique across camps all over Florida and Arizona. This is the time of year when every club hopes their young players will step up and produce and focuses on the repercussions if they don't.
But that doesn't make the early reactions any less amusing.
The good will that came with shipping the dead weight of Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall out of town and bringing in Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, Delonte West and Joe Smith in their place has given way to the inevitable difficulties that come with changing 50% of your roster in late February.
Guys are struggling to find their niche, Head Coach Mike Brown is toying with various lineups and rotations and the results are indicative of a team in flux. The Cavs struggled a bit to find their groove against Minnesota and Chicago over the weekend. They ultimately just had too much talent and too much LeBron James for either of those squads. But it wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty for the majority of those two games.
Making it all the more difficult is the fact the Cavs just can't seem to go three or four games with their roster staying healthy. Sunday's casualty was Zydrunas Ilgauskas who missed the Chicago game with those recurring back spasms. That's becoming more of a concern as the season winds down as Z has missed a couple games in the past week with the balky back. It's making Brown's job that much more difficult because it seems that every couple games he's losing a player to injury or welcoming a player back from injury.
Still, the Cavs are getting it done in the ‘Win' column despite the issues. The schedule is one reason they've maintained some momentum. The other reason is that the trade of ten days ago did infuse them with more talent. One could reasonably argue that when all are finally present and accounted for this team can go 11 deep with Eric Snow being the only player on the roster unlikely to see any time. That's especially important given the run of injuries this team has faced.
Brown will have some interesting decisions to make if and when he has a full squad of healthy players. So will opposing coaches in trying to defend a healthy Cavs roster.