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Why June 15th Matters To The Browns Restricted Free Agents

June 15th is a big day for some key Browns Restricted Free Agents

Would you give up a seven figure salary to send a message to your boss?  That is the question that Restricted Free Agents (RFA) D'Qwell Jackson, Matt Roth, Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers are facing.

As of today, each one of these players, along with fellow RFA Abe Elam, have an tender in hand waiting to be signed.  The amounts are as follows; D'Qwell Jackson (1.759 million), Matt Roth (1.809 million), Lawrence Vickers (1.759 million), Jerome Harrison (1.759 million) and Abe Elam (1.759 million).  Not bad huh?

On June 15th, if the restricted free agents have not signed their offers, the Browns can still keep the player's rights and lower their offer to 110% of their '09 salaries.  If the Browns decide to do this, these players will be facing massive pay reductions.

PLAYER 110% Salary MONEY LOST
D'Qwell Jackson $704,000 $1.05 million
Matt Roth $593,000 $1.17 million
Jerome Harrison $593,000 $1.17 million
Lawrence Vickers $589,000 $1.17 million
Abe Elam $1.65 million $109,000

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So what options do our Heroes have?  Well here is a quick rundown:

  1. Sign the tenders before June 15th, report to camp and make approximately 1.7 million dollars for the upcoming season.  Not too bad of a deal, right?
  2. Don't sign and sit out.  Hopefully the new CBA would grant them Unrestricted Free Agency in '11.  Could back fire and find themselves in the same position next season.  Big risk.
  3. Sign the tender and then hold out for a long term deal.  Why?  Because the fines for holding out would be minimal considering the alternative.  
  4. Sign the tender and then demand a trade.  

Predictions:

Jerome Harrison:  I assume that Harrison signs his tender before June 15th.  He is already in camp, after signing an injury waiver (a waiver that assures the player will be paid in the event of an injury).  The Browns drafted a possible replacement in Montario Hardesty, and they only way Harrison is going to cash in next season is if he gets back out there and performs at a high level again.

Lawrence Vickers:  I believe that #47 will be in camp and signed by the 15th.  He is a bruising FB who was a major reason for the Browns awesome running game at the end of the season.  In my opinion, he is by far the most important restricted free agent.

Abe Elam:  Now we are getting into the danger zone.  Elam is in the strongest position of the five.  He can call the Browns bluff on June 15th and stay away with minimal monetary loss.  He can re-sign and hold out and still come out ahead.  Elam wants a longterm deal and the Browns aren't willing to pony up the cash.  I think we as Browns fans better be ready for some combination of TJ Ward, Larry Asante and Mike Adams this season.  I have no idea which way Elam is going to go.

Matt Roth:  I like Roth, but the guy seems crazy.  He pouted his way out of Miami.  He demanded a longterm deal after playing only six games with the Browns.  He has now demanded a trade out of Cleveland.  I love Roth's upside, and if you saw him last season you can tell that he has talent and a knack for getting to the QB.  Is he worth the trouble though?  This one could get ugly.  If I had to guess, he signs and holds out for a trade or contract.

D'Qwell Jackson:  D'Qwell Jackson has started many arguments on SBNations Browns site Dawgsbynature.  No one questions that DQ is the unquestioned leader of this defense, but is that worth a longterm deal?  DQ wants to get paid and hasn't been happy about his situation.  Right now he is hurting himself as Scott Fujita continues to get reps at starting ILB.  Add in Chris Gocong, David Bowens, David Veikune, Kaluka Maiava among others and you have one crowded LB corps.  I hope, and believe, that DQ will sign and be in camp by the 15th.

What do you think?

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.