July 30, 2007

Holdout?

There are 11 days to go before the first exhibition game, and the Browns' third string quarterback is still unsigned. Pardon me while I stifle a yawn. Here's the foreboding ESPN headline; No end in sight for Browns rookie Quinn's holdout. Really? No end?

The Plain Dealer site blares "Quinn Still MIA", and says that the quarterback "doesn't appear close" to signing. This is inferred by beat writer Mary Kay Cabot from all the signs she sees...like G.M. Phil Savage saying "the two sides are 'right there' on some things but that they just haven't been able to get it done yet."

Wow. That does sound hopeless.

It happens every year, and probably in most every NFL city. The fans are starved of football news, and their first round draft picks are the last to sign. Agents have multiple clients and busy schedules. Negotiations are complicated and linked to other negotiations. Still it is rare for a first round pick to hold out beyond the second exhibition game.

But as soon as July practices begin, fans and media agonize over their unsigned first-rounder, labeling him a "holdout". He's missing valuable practice time. He needs to learn the system. He needs to get to know his teammates. Oh, the humanity!

Remind me again how many first round picks sat out last season. Oh, right. None. And if the Browns have any sense at all, the job Brady Quinn has been so derelict in preparing for this year will involve mostly a baseball cap and a clipboard. One hopes.

I know, a rookie quarterback could learn an awful lot in those four practices he has missed so far. But isn't he supposed to be a smart kid? He went to Notre Dame. Right now, he's smart enough to listen to his agent Tom Condon, one of the best. And part of the reason Savage can take a firm stand in negotiations is that he doesn't really need Quinn to be productive on the field this year.

Phil Savage and his team conduct contract negotiations as far from the media consciousness as is possible in the modern era. I saw no local writers reporting that there were signs that Joe Thomas "appeared close" to signing before Savage announced the done deal a few days ago. That's not the way he does business.

One morning, probably yet this week, Savage and Brady will have a press conference to announce the contract. Then the Browns fans who want so badly to believe that Brady Quinn is the savior of the franchise will get about the business of making the backup quarterback the most popular player on the team, and clamoring for him to play sooner instead of later. It has always been that way.

UPDATE 8/6: They're down to final details. It looks like Brady Quinn will be in an orange helmet when the team opens exhibition play Saturday. And this seemingly interminable nightmare will finally be over.

If anything can motivate Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson, this circus has to be it.

UPDATE 8/7: Exactly one week after the initial article in this post warned that there was "no end in sight", Brady Quinn has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a five-year contract. What's next? Dogs and cats living together in peace and harmony?

Posted by dan at July 30, 2007 9:21 PM