Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Browns should go after Steelers' Mike Wallace

So far this offseason the team that finished 30th in points scored in 2011 has released starting right tackle Tony Pashos, released left guard Eric Steinbach, the starter from 2007-2010 until a back injury wiped out his 2011 season, and watched Peyton Hillis leave to sign a one-year deal with the Chiefs.

The Browns also let the Redskins outbid them for the second pick in the draft to be used on Robert Griffin III. The Browns apparently have no interest in Matt Flynn.

One by one, top receivers have signed elsewhere. But there is still a way For Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert to give the Browns offense a huge boost; they should sign Mike Wallace to an offer sheet that would either be difficult for the Steelers to match or put them in such a bind they would have to make other moves to stay under the salary cap.

Wallace is a restricted free agent. The Steelers tendered him a contract that would require a team signing him to an offer sheet to compensate the Steelers with a first-round draft choice if the Steelers don't match it within seven days. I say do it. If the Browns are even thinking about drafting Justin Blackmon they should sign Wallace to an offer sheet first. It would cost them more, maybe $50 million over five years, but by cutting Eric Steinbach ($6 million saved) the Browns have salary cap room to make a big splash.

Wallace caught 72 passes for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He is a known commodity. Blackmon is not. So spend the first-round pick on the known commodity. Put Wallace, Greg Little and Josh Cribbs or Jordan Norwood, or a rookie receiver added with the 22nd pick, in the lineup and suddenly the offense would look pretty good. Of course, getting Wallace would also weaken the Steelers.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It is difficult to get inside Hillis' head

So now word comes via Adam Schefter of ESPN that Peyton Hillis thought about retiring last season and getting a job with the CIA. Now he has changed his mind and wants to continue his career as an running back, preferably with the Browns.

If ever there was a blueprint on how not to negotiate a contract extension, this is it. Maybe Hillis got the idea watching a Mission Impossible movie while he was home recuperating from strep throat last September.

The revelation could affect Hillis' ability to negotiate a long-term contract in free agency. Once a player gets the idea of retirement in his head it often times stays there. If Hillis has another tumultuous year like he did in 2011 he could decide to chuck it all and become a spy.

The smart thing for the Browns and for Hillis would be for the two sides to work out a one-year contract to keep Hillis in Cleveland for 2012. Hillis would get the chance to prove 2010 was no fluke and the Browns would reap the benefits of a player playing hungry in his contract year.

The Browns have the money to sign Hillis if his demands are not unreasonable. Hillis was going to find out even before word broke he wanted to wear a secret decoder ring that he wasn't going to command a huge contract on the open market. Teams are wary of one-year wonders.