Though the Cleveland Browns were able to lure to town today a couple of players with connections to coach Eric Mangini (safety Ray Ventrone and guard Billy Yates), multiple sources have told us that some agents plan to steer their clients away from the Browns.
Right or wrong, there’s a sense of discontent regarding the new regime in Cleveland, where coach Eric Mangini and G.M. George Kokinis are running the show, with Mangini serving essentially as the man in charge.
A variety of issues have contributed to the situation, and we’re in the process of tracking down specific details regarding some of the potential problem areas.
In the offseason, feathers were ruffled when Mangini took first-year players on a ten-hour bus ride to Hartford, Connecticut to work a youth football camp. Also, the lingering contractual impasse regarding receiver Josh Cribbs could be creating trust issues, given Cribbs’ strong belief that owner Randy Lerner promised to re-work Cribbs’ below-market deal, and the fact that Mangini/Kokinis have denied the allegation.
The Cribbs conundrum reminds many of the disputes that arose when Mangini coached the Jets, including guard Pete Kendall, receiver Laveranues Coles, and tight end Chris Baker. All claimed that promises had been made regarding their contracts, and that the promises had been broken.
As one source explained it, the Browns likely will be required to overpay free agents in the offseason. If the money that Cleveland is offering matches the money on the table from another team, the thinking is that the players will be far more inclined to sign with the team not named the Browns.
UPDATE: In response to this item, an agent who was not one of the sources for the original item contacted us, agreed with it wholeheartedly, and said, “I would put one of my players on another team’s practice squad before putting him on the Browns.”