Columnist Todd Porter says Brady Quinn shouldn't be paid more than his No. 22 pick is worth.
By Todd Porter
Gatehouse Ohio Group
BEREA Every year, the midsummer classic settles over NFL training camps. Epic contract disputes and negotiations drag on through two-a-days, because in the 12 weeks since the NFL Draft, agents and general managers just were too busy to deal with this.
The Browns open camp Friday, and, right now, look do so without their top three picks. Hey, who’s kidding whom here? Like Cleveland needs talented players in camp on time.
It could be worse. PETA picketers could swarm Berea, and the NFL could ban Cleveland’s starting quarterback from training camp.
The problem is the Browns don’t have a starting quarterback.
It won’t be, nor was it ever going to be, rookie Brady Quinn. Let’s get something straight: What General Manager Phil Savage pulled off on draft day — getting Quinn and Joe Thomas in the first round — will be a pivotal moment in franchise history.
With that in mind, Quinn isn’t better than what the Browns currently have on the roster. He can be.
But Quinn is still a rookie. Though is there a difference between a talented rookie making mistakes every series and Charlie Frye or Derek Anderson doing almost as much?
Still, the Browns don’t need Quinn right now.
Which is why his contract negotiations have all the makings of a protracted battle. Quinn is represented by Tom Condon, and Condon believes the Browns should pay Quinn like a top 10 draft pick, because that’s where he should’ve been selected.
But that’s not where he was drafted. Cleveland did Quinn a favor by getting back in the first round and ending his draft-day free fall at No. 22.
The Browns are in the driver’s seat during the Quinn negotiations. He isn’t projected as a big piece to the offensive puzzle, at least not early in the season.
Quinn represents hope to this franchise, and the Browns need so much more than hope. They need tangible proof that the NFL’s worst team since 1999 is improving.
That is where big Joe Thomas and cornerback Eric Wright come in.
Both could start. Thomas was the third overall pick and needs to be paid accordingly. If Oakland gets JaMarcus Russell’s contract done soon, Thomas shouldn’t be far behind.
He didn’t do fans any favors over the weekend by reportedly charging $75 for an autograph at a shopping mall. He struggled during minicamps, which means he didn’t do himself any favors during these negotiations.
Condon shouldn’t be asking the Browns for more than No. 22 overall money. Heck, he should be offering the team a discount. Condon was, after all, the agent who represented Tim Couch, who is set for life regardless if his rebuilt right shoulder bucks the odds and makes it back in the league. The Couch deal alone should have come with some kind of coupon to be redeemed later.
Here’s the problem with paying Quinn more than what his draft slot dictates: The players taken immediately in front of Quinn and behind the former Notre Dame quarterback will want their deals based off Quinn’s. Where does it stop?
The Browns, rightfully so, aren’t willing to go down a slippery slope of throwing all NFL rookie contracts out of whack. Condon won’t agree to terms in Cleveland until No. 21 (Reggie Nelson) and No. 23 (Dwayne Bowe) sign. Condon wouldn’t look too bright if Quinn, a quarterback, gets a worse deal than a player selected after he was.
If you want to see Quinn playing football this week or next, your best bet is to watch ESPN Classic. It might air a Notre Dame rerun before Quinn gets to camp.
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org