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News » Newest Browns are graybeards

Newest Browns are graybeards

Newest Browns are graybeards

The Browns are getting older, if not better.

They have signed nine players in Free Agency. Their average age is 30.2. Six of the nine players will be 31 or older when the 2009 season starts.

(Last year, the Browns had four players on their opening-game roster who were 31 or older.)

Here's the roll call, with their age as of the opening game in September:

Cornerback Corey Ivy, 32.

Linebacker David Bowens, 32.

Offensive lineman John St. Clair, 32.

Cornerback Hank Poteat, 32.

Linebacker Eric Barton, 31.

Tight end Robert Royal, 31.

Offensive lineman Floyd Womack, 29.

Running back Noah Herron, 27.

Defensive lineman C.J. Mosley, 26.

They are mostly role players. As a group, they have started 41 percent of all the games they've played (335 of 825). Royal has the highest percentage of career starts (.804), followed by Barton (.742). Of the rest, only Womack (.522) has started in at least half of his career games.

The apparent plan of building up the bottom of the team's roster is similar to one adopted by Bill Belichick when he became Browns coach in 1991. There are a couple differences, however.

True Free Agency did not begin until 1993. In Belichick's first two years, the NFL had limited Free Agency (called Plan B), which allowed mostly older or unproven players to become free. The best players were protected by their teams from entering the market.

The other difference was that Belichick inherited an old team that was physically and emotionally spent after five straight playoff appearances that fell short and then a disastrous 1990 season. So it had to be rebuilt from the ground up.

The current Browns regime must be the thinking the same thing.

When owner Randy Lerner met the media in late November before blowing up his Football operations, he said one of the big questions he faced was determining which season was the aberration - the 10-6 2007 team or the 4-12 2008 team.

It's obvious now that he has come to the conclusion that the 4-12 season was the one that more accurately reflected the state of the Browns.


: You can now easily make the case that taking the top receiver in the draft is a more viable option for the Browns with the No. 5 overall pick.

As it stands, the Browns' top three returning pass catchers from last year are Braylon Edwards (55 catches), Steve Heiden (23) and Jamal Lewis (23). And Heiden's readiness for most of the preseason is uncertain after needing major knee surgery in December.

Since February, the Browns have traded tight end Kellen Winslow (43 catches), lost running back Jason Wright in Free Agency (22), released Joe Jurevicius, and saw the life and career of Dont? Stallworth (17) change in a fatal car accident.

Receivers still on the roster from last year's team are Edwards, Syndric Steptoe, Josh Cribbs and Paul Hubbard.

So far, the only potential pass catchers added have been Royal (33 catches with Buffalo last year) and Herron (0 catches since 2006).

This position is so thin right now, the Browns haven't even named a receivers coach. It's possible that coach Eric Mangini eventually will name quality control coach George McDonald to the post. McDonald spent the past two years at the University of Minnesota and has never coached in the NFL.

The Browns still can sign a wide receiver in Free Agency. Some who are left unsigned: Torry Holt, Marvin Harrison, Drew Carter, Darrell Jackson, D.J. Hackett, Marty Booker, Keary Colbert, Lance Moore (restricted), David Patten, Amani Toomer, Drew Bennett, Ike Hilliard, Jerry Porter, Tab Perry, Reggie Williams and Ashley Lelie.

The top receiver in the draft figures to be Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech, even though recent foot surgery will keep him from proving his speed before the draft.

The only other receiver to consider in the top 10 is Jeremy Maclin of Missouri. Percy Harvin of Florida and Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina are also projected in the first round.

Nice rebound: Fired Browns executive T.J. McCreight, who was director of player personnel and Phil Savage's top lieutenant, landed on his feet as pro personnel director of the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals. McCreight is a native of Willoughby.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: tgrossi@plaind.com, 216-999-4670

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 24, 2009

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Daven Holly Name: Daven Holly
Position: CB
Age: 25
Experience: 4 years
College: Cincinnati
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