Countdown to The Draft
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By Tony Grossi
Could Brian Hoyer be headed to Cleveland?
Morning kickoff …
Palm Beach, Fla.
Tom Brady's backup could be on the block: The New England Patriots gave a second-round tender to North Olmsted native Brian Hoyer so they wouldn’t lose the restricted free agent for nothing.
Hoyer signed the $1.92 million tender last week. Now there is some speculation that the Patriots may seek to trade the three-year backup quarterback. Hoyer was undrafted out of Michigan State, so getting a middle-round draft pick in return would be a typical value move by Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Hoyer will be an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and the Patriots have 2011 third-round pick Ryan Mallett in the wings. All things being equal, teams favor their draft choices over undrafted players. But Hoyer has defeated the odds in his three seasons with New England.
As a rookie, Hoyer beat out three other quarterbacks – one was drafted by New England -- and won the job as Tom Brady’s only backup. And last year he kept the mildly touted Mallett relegated to the No. 3 role.
Serving as a backup to Brady is a double-edged sword. Hoyer has learned from one of the NFL’s ultimate professionals at his position, but he rarely gets to play in a game. Hoyer attempted one pass in 2011, bringing his three-year total to 27 completions in 43 attempts.
Although lightly used, Hoyer, 26, might pique some interest on the trade market. The QB crop in the middle rounds of this year’s draft is typically unimpressive.
Some believe Hoyer would be a good fit in the West Coast offense of Browns coach Pat Shurmur. A source familiar with the situation said the Browns have not expressed interest in Hoyer. That’s par for the course. The only QB they have expressed any interest in this offseason was Robert Griffin III.
Browns by committee: The NFL divides its business workload among 26 committees made up of owners and club executives. At last year’s annual league meetings, the Browns sat on only two of the committees – the least representation of all 32 teams. This year the Browns are on four committees.
The most prominent addition was Browns owner Randy to the influential finance committee. Lerner’s father, Al, once ruled the finance committee as its chairman. The elder Lerner was so respective in the NFL for his business acumen that he was appointed to the committee almost instantly upon taking ownership of the Browns expansion franchise in 1999.
Two for the show: Across the state from where NFL meetings are being held today through Wednesday, the NFL Players Association wrapped up its annual meetings in Marco Island, Fla., by electing new officers. Browns tight end Ben Watson was voted to the 10-man executive board. He joins Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who was elected a year ago. The Browns and Patriots are the only teams with more than one player represented. Fujita, incidentally, may learn his discipline for inolvement in the Saints' bounty program from 2007 to 2009 at these meetings.
More concussion awareness: One of the bylaws being considered by owners at these meetings is to add a special inactive list for players diagnosed with concussions.
Only one player may be put on the list at a time by Friday of game week. That player can’t play in the Sunday game and would return to practice only after being cleared by an independent neurologist. The team then would be allowed to add another player to its roster.
Odds and ends: Teams were allowed an expanded training camp roster of 90 last year because of the lockout. Owners this year will consider keeping the roster at 90. If so, the first cutdown would be to 80 after the third preseason game and the final cut to 53 would come on Saturday after the fourth preseason game. If roster sizes are returned to the normal 80, there is a possibility there would be only one cut to 53 … Teams may get a sneak peek of the new NIKE line of uniform apparel at these meetings. The public unveiling is set for April 3.
Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to email@example.com
Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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