Saturday, March 1, 2008

Phil Savage Makes Leap Day A Holiday

February 29 is a date that occurs only every four years, in years evenly divisible by 4, such as 1988, 1996, 2008 or 2016 (with the exception of century years not divisible by 400, such as 1900) for the Gregorian calendar, which is most widely used in the world today. These are called leap years, and February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year. February 29 is also known as Bissextile Day or Leap Day.

Now Leap Day is not a national holiday, but Browns GM Phil Savage sure treated it like one. It started off at 4:30 AM when the Browns and QB Derek Anderson came to terms on a 3 year, $24M ($13M guaranteed) deal less than a day after Anderson rejected a 3 year, $20M ($10M guaranteed) deal. We'll see how the QB situation pans out, as Brady Quinn has already stated he plans to compete for the starting job in 2008, but it looks like a good move, IHMO.

It gives Anderson a chance to prove that the beginning of 2007 was no fluke and the end of 2007 was an aberration. If he excels, the Browns still will face a QB decision at the end of 2008, but both he and Quinn still will have value at that time. If he falters, Quinn is itching to take over. Both QB's contracts don't put too much of a burden on the Browns' salary cap number, so theoretically they both could be here for the next 3 years, but the odds of that happening are slim to none. The bottom line is the Browns still have 2 potential starting QBs under the age of 25 on the roster and are not financially handcuffed by it.

Savage then acquired Green Bay DT Corey Williams in exchange for the Browns' 2008 2nd Round draft choice. Williams was give the Franchise Tag by the Packers due to their depth at the position. The Browns then signed Williams to a 6 year contract. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed but rumors say is is worth $36M ($16M-$18M guaranteed). Williams is only 27 and fills the second DE spot and give the Browns a much needed run stuffer they have been missing since the 1990s.

In a surprising move, after a trade between Detroit and Cincinnati fell through, Savage traded the Browns' 2008 3rd Round draft choice and starting CB Leigh Bodden to the Lions for ginormous DT Shaun Rogers. This move is the riskiest by far as Rogers clashed in 2007 with Lions coaches and management in addition to struggling with his weight. When healthy, fit and motivated, Rogers can dominate the line of scrimmage as he was a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 and 2006. But he ballooned form his normal playing weight of 340 pounds to 370 and seemed to take plays off on a regular basis. If the Browns can get him in shape and screw his head on straight they may have gotten a steal. If they don't they're looking at the second coming of Gerard Warren.

The following day, WR Donte Stallworth was inked to a 7 year, #35M ($10M guaranteed) contract in what has to be considered, with Joe Jurevicius hinting at retirement after 2008, an concession that Tim Carter and Travis Wilson are not the answer. With visits by Tenneessee DE Travis LaBoy, Ravnes LB Nick Greisen and Steelers LB Clark Haggans scheduled, Savage may not be done with addressing the Browns pitiful defense.

All 4 moves are definitely solid moves that look good on paper. It all depends on how each player produces in 2008 and beyond before the transactions can be judged appropriately. The moves did come at a steep price as the Browns do not have a draft choice in the first 3 rounds of the 2008 Draft. Savage stated that he treats the acquisitions plus Brady Quinn, who the 2008 1st Round draft choice was traded for last year, as the Browns first day of the draft this year. For a man who is thought of as a draft guru that is a bold statement.

The loss of Leigh Bodden is definitely an interesting one. Bodden has had injury issues the past few seasons but still is one of the underrated CBs in the game. It thrusts the second year duo of Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald into the spotlight in 2008 and answers the question as to why Daven Holly was resigned.

All in all a good weekend for the Browns. We'll see what Savage has up his sleeve for week 2 of free agency as the Browns still have cap room and holes to fill. It's too bad leap year only comes every 4 years. The 2008 version was very good to Browns fans.

Go Browns!

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