NFL Free Agency 2012: Browns Add Minor Pieces, Shift Focus To The Draft

The Browns have been conspicuously quiet adding players through free agency so far, but Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren have plenty of decisions to make in advance of April's draft.

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Report: Browns Pursued Pair of New Redskins Receivers

Cleveland Browns pursued wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in free agency, source says http://t.co/EAGDacFq
Mar 26 via dlvr.it Favorite Retweet Reply

According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Browns have been beaten to the punch on a bunch of different moves by the Washington Redskins.

Specifically, the Redskins gave up a bounty for the second overall pick and the rights to select Robert Griffin III, but once they had that plan in place, they also beat the Browns to free agent receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, both of whom signed sizeable deals (especially Garcon) with the Redskins on the first day of free agency.

It's probably not a bad thing that Cleveland missed out on paying those guys that kind of money, and they didn't have to give up a million draft picks in order to get their franchise quarterback, but I think Redskins fans are pretty happy with their moves considering, and Browns fans are still waiting for the team to strike a deal.

This news is more salt on their wounds than anything else, since Cleveland fans desperately want to see positive change for their team, which has lost some important players, including running back Peyton Hillis who took a backup job in Kansas City over a job, presumably, as the starter in Cleveland.

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Report: Cleveland Browns Listening to Offers for Fourth Overall Pick

At #NFL meetings, multiple teams expressing interest in #Browns No. 4 pick. #Browns are listening.
Mar 26 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

At the NFL meetings, there are multiple teams vying to the Browns' fourth overall pick, according to a report from ESPN Cleveland based reporter Tony Grossi. This is a very interesting scenario, as lots of ideas have been thrown around lately about what the Browns might do with that pick.

A lot of rumors right now are saying that Cleveland could take Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with that selection, while others believe they could go for either Morris Claiborne or Trent Richardson, possibly even a receiver like Justin Blackmon.

Obviously, Cleveland has not been active in free agency to this point, and they need to add as many players as they can. If they can get some extra picks in this draft out of the deal, it might be interesting for them to be able to move down and still get a player they like, perhaps another pass rusher.

The Browns have added defensive end Frostee Rucker, formerly of the Bengals over this free agent period, but perhaps the biggest move was the one they didn't make in not trading up for Baylor's Robert Griffin III, which many people believed not so long ago that they were the favorites to do.

With this development, it will not only be interesting to see who is trying to move up with the Browns, but how far down they are willing to go. Last year, we saw the Atlanta Falcons make a huge jump up to number six overall, ironically with the Cleveland Browns. The Falcons gave up five picks in that deal, including an additional first round pick which Cleveland owns in this year's draft.

The Browns were able to strike big on their first round pick despite moving up down and all around, netting Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor in the later portion of the first round.

Similarly the Browns could be looking at a receiver in the first round of this year's draft, or possibly a pass rusher, and the value is simply not there with the fourth overall pick and they might not value Richardson or Claiborne highly enough to take them with that selection if a great offer is out there.

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Eric Steinbach Released, But Still Talking With Browns

The Browns are releasing 31-year-old offensive lineman Eric Steinbach, according to the National Football Post. The former Iowa Hawkeye, who missed all of 2011 after back surgery, was in the sixth year of a seven year deal with the Browns, and would have been on the books for $6 million in the 2012 season.

Although Steinbach formally asked for his release, there's still a chance he'll be with Cleveland next year. Per Steinbach's agent:

Eric Steinbach could part ways with the Cleveland Browns. Asked to take a significant salary reduction in late February, the two sides have not been able to reach an agreement on a new deal, so Steinbach has asked for his release. However, the two sides will keep talking while Steinbach will simultaneously explore the free agent market.

The Browns certainly need help on the line, and if the two sides are able to come to an agreement that will pay Steinbach less, but offer him more in incentives, it would help free up more cap space for the Browns to -- well, do whatever it is that they are doing in free agency (hint: not much of anything). Regardless, Steinbach has always been a pro, and if he heads elsewhere, Browns fans will wish him the best.

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Former Browns Cornerback Eric Wright Signs With Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed former Cleveland Browns cornerback Eric Wright, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Wright’s deal will be for the next five years, but as of now, the financial terms are unknown.

The former second round pick of the Browns played just one year in Detroit, but he was a pretty important asset for their defense, netting 73 tackles and four interceptions. The Bucs have a desperate need at the cornerback position, so getting Wright is a pretty big move for them. He will likely be their top starter and they will have to add another as the futures of Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib are in doubt for very different reasons.

Wright has 13 career interceptions—nine in Cleveland—and should be a big addition for Tampa Bay.

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NFL Free Agency Rumors: Mario Manningham Not Interested In Signing With Cleveland Browns

The NFL Free Agent period is set to begin at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and Cleveland Browns fans aren't expecting much to happen in their neck of the woods. And Warren, OH native and top-wide receiver free agent Mario Manningham shed some light on why that could be Tuesday when he spoke with Cleveland.com's Starting Blocks TV.

When asked if he was considering the Browns as an option, Manningham blatantly said, "Um, not really."

"Not to put the organization down, but a lot of players that's not one of their top choices, because everybody says how cold it is in Cleveland and their (status) team-wise. So, it's a combination."

Manningham also cited that the Browns' quarterbacking situation as a deterrent, and come four o'clock he will be waiting for a phone call from his agent.

For more Browns coverage, visit Dawgs By Nature. Track all the news and rumors about NFL free agency at SB Nation's NFL hub.

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