Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Newsflash: Five Cleveland Browns restricted free agents sign their tender offers hours before the club deadline.


Well, not really.

Did anyone in Browns Nation actually believe the recalcitrant quintet (Jerome Harrison, Lawrence Vickers, Matt Roth, D'Qwell Jackson and Abram Elam) would opt to allow the club to dramatically reduce their contracts if they didn't sign tenders by midnight June 15? In some cases to what amounted to minimum wage (NFL style)?

They threatened, they postured, they remained on the sidelines (with the exception of Harrison) during OTAs and minicamp, but in the end, they capitulated. Leaving significant amounts of money on the table is not the most prudent of moves.

In the end, however, the Browns have five angry young players with whom to deal. They are not at all sanguine with being forced to sign the tenders. And some of their agents made certain the public knew about it.

"This will not sit well with D'Qwell," said Brian Mackler, Jackson's agent. Ooooh. Scary. But Mackler stopped short of saying his client would play below his talent level. "D'Qwell is . . . looking forward to having a Pro Bowl-caliber season. . . . he's excited to get back on the field."

Drew Rosenhaus, who speaks for Roth, Elam and Vickers, suggested to SportsBusiness Journal that malcontents in the work place translates into lesser performance. "Players are not machines," he said. "They are human beings and they have emotions and it affects their performance. When you go to work and you are not happy, you don't perform as well."

But they are also professionals playing a game of extreme brute force. Giving less than their best effort lands players on injured reserve. Football is not a contact sport. Dancing is. Football is a collision sport.

If a Jackson or a Roth or an Elam show up with their B game or C game, they also risk damaging their reputations as well as their bank accounts.

Perhaps it might occur to them along the way that if they outperform their contracts, there is a very good chance the financial reward they seek won't be as difficult to come by as they originally thought. All they need to do is look toward the locker of one of their most successful teammates.

Joshua Cribbs lobbied long and diligently for a financial reward that matched his talent and productivity. He didn't bitch and moan. He just went out and became a record-setting kick returner and valuable contributor to the offense. And he was amply compensated.

That behooves Vickers, Elam, Roth, Harrison and Jackson to suit up and prove to the Browns they are worthy of multi-year contract extensions. If they have any pride, that's exactly what they'll do. Anything less and they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

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