NFL Rumors: Browns Not in Play for Mario Williams

Browns general manager Tom Heckert recently told local press that the team will not be “going crazy” in free agency. In lieu of his statement, coupled with the addition of the team’s belief that there are no “Reggie Whites” to be had, Pro Football Talk’s Evan Silva believes this officially takes Cleveland out of contention to acquire the services of free agent Mario Williams.

Williams, the first-overall draft pick in 2006, is one of the premier pass-rushing defensive ends in the league. With the franchise tag set to cost the Houston Texans roughly $22 million, the two-time All-Pro becomes one of the biggest free agents to hit the open market.

The Browns are said to be looking for an upgrade to play opposite of 2011 second-round pick Jabaal Sheard, but Williams would likely draw a contract comparable to (if not greater than that of) Julius Peppers, who signed a six-year, $91.5 million deal in 2010.

Williams will be coming off of an injury-shortened 2011 campaign where he recorded five sacks and 11 tackles in just five games. For his career, he has amassed 241 tackles, 53 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and a touchdown.

[Related: The Realities of Robert Griffin III as a Cleveland Brown]

  • Vindictive_Pat

    So in other words, Heckert plans to bring in the equivalent of Jayme Mitchell to solve the ineptitude that was Jayme Mitchell.  Hooray!

    No, but seriously… I didn’t realize that the price tag of Mario Williams would mean all of the Browns’ available cap space.  I don’t think I like that.  Unless Heckert spends the money on another pu-pu platter of borderline starters like last year.

  • MrCleaveland

    Six years and 91.5 mil?



  • steve-o

    I get that it is a longshot for us to sign Mario Williams, but we should at least try. If we had drafted him, we would almost certainly have either re-signed or franchised him by now. He is only 27, would fit into our long term plans and is a top tier player at a premium position that we need. There is no DE in this draft that compares to him. Sure, he’d cost a lot, but we have plenty of cap space, and our team is awful. The Bengals had as many wins last season as we had in the last two combined. The Ravens and Steelers had more. Maybe we should try to do something about that? Refusing to try to sign a player who could have a huge impact for this team simply because it’s not the sort of thing that we usually do is nothing more than blatant stubborness.

  • JoshKess

    The Browns won’t be going crazy in free agency


    The Browns will be ignoring free agency


    Normal year for the Browns in free agency

  • MrCleaveland

    You don’t buy the Cadillac until you get the garage fixed.

  • mgbode

    I wouldn’t mind having this Cadillac and just buying a car cover for it.

  • mgbode

    elite money to elite players only.  so it doesn’t bother me.  especially when I think of what it would make our DL look like.   and that cap space can be conjured up when needed (restructuring, etc.)

    but, I understand Heckert’s desire to build through the draft instead.

  • Certainly better than buying a moped and putting a Cadillac sticker on it.

  • Gbwoy

    Split on this one.  The price tag is certainly high.  At the same time…I don’t like us taking ourselves out of the running for a player of this caliber.

    The free agency thing cuts me both ways.  I don’t want our team built from free agents.  I prefer the draft.  It’s generally more successfull to build a team that way.  And yet…I also want this team to get better, fast.  Free agency or trade is the only way to do that.  And we’re not trading anyone of worth, so…guess we’re in for a long wait.


  • dan

    Heckert is apparently continuing the tradition of trying to improve the team without actually adding any new players. Because it has worked well so far….

  • kjn

    I live in Houston and have been surprised at how little the people around here think of Mario. I don’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of the city or anything, but what I keep hearing is that he’s good though not worth superstar money. While I personally haven’t watched enough of him to have an opinion, his stats are pretty impressive.

  • mgbode

    his stats don’t do him justice.  if you can find some of the stats on QB pressures, hits, etc. then you’ll see why many thought he was the best DE in the game a couple of years ago (and last year he nearly seamlessly transitioned to 3-4 OLB before his injury just to show how talented he is)

  • kjn

    Even his “generic” stats look pretty good. I’m kind of confused why people down here don’t think much of him. Best I can come up with is that as a first round pick the expectations of him are just sky high.

    But it’s weird – you hear people complaining about his lack of work ethic and taking plays off. I don’t follow the Texans, but have watched more than a few games and never noticed anything like that.

  • MrCleaveland

     The point being, gentlemen, that you don’t spend that kind of money on one player when your team has won 18 games in 4 years.

    You spend that kind of huge money when you’re THISCLOSE to winning it all.

    But I think you both already know that.

  • TSR3000

    We better add at least on quality starter through free agency. Otherwise I consider it pure arrogance of H/H that they think they will only draft sure things and that they are untouchable.

  • OR

    The Browns already went crazy when they hired Shurmur.

  • TOJ

    So instead of WFNY, it’s now WFUFD (waiting for an undisclosed future date)? Or do you just want to stay on the list for playoff tickets?

  • Ritz

    Oh good what a relief… I would hate to see the Browns sign someone like him. I mean it’s not like we need any impact players. I dread the day we sigh someone of Mario William’s talent level.

  • Ritz

    But… We’ve already invested in the defense though the draft and built a nice garage as you say. Cadillacs like this just can’t be had whenever you want. At least try to sign him.

  • Ritz

    Yea but if you take that mentality then its hard to improve. How else do you get to the point where you are close? Unless you hit on every single pick ala the Packers the last several years. Let’s say he makes our defense go from good to really good. Then you build the offense through the draft and you get THATCLOSE then can add that next piece.

  • Ritz

    Agreed. Also, I don’t see how signing one big free agent precludes one from building through the draft. The two are not mutually exclusive.

  • Roosevelt

    NFL Rumors: Browns Not in Play for 2012 improvement

  • mgbode

    best I can come up with:

    Mario signing means no Flynn.  no Flynn means RGIII is needed.  RGIII requires multiple high draft picks to trade up.  Therefore, less high draft picks to build through the draft.

  • mgbode

    i get to see them here in TX quite a bit and he’s a #1 overall that lived up to the billing.

  • cmm13

    Sooooo…. I just read the Heckert piece on ESPN which contained a lot more than the 2 quotes here and there is nothing there even close to Heckert flat out saying “WE ARE NOT ATTEMPTING TO SPEAK WITH MARIO WILLIAMS”.

    He specifically mentions Manning but no direct mention of Williams or any other FA by name for that matter.

    I’ll chalk this up to just more of the talking heads trying to make 1 + 1 = whatever they want it to add up to at the moment they want it to add up to that with the exclusive right to change the summation at any future point.

  • mgbode

    he can’t mention Mario Williams by name or he gets a tampering charge.  the quote that made me think he is not going Mario (or he’s just blowing smoke) was not on that ESPN article:

    there’s no Reggie White in this FA class

    seems directed at Mario since he can’t actually say his name

  • New_prodigy

    It’s Cleveland….why spend big bucks on him now when we can pick him up for MUCH cheaper when he’s 40

  • cmm13

    Good point on not being able to mention anyone still with a team by name until after the FA period begins.

    I guess my point being that everything anyone says at the current moment can be construed to fit their own argument.

    I don’t think anyone will be satisfied until Heckert/Holmgren specifically say: “we are/did attempt to sign player x” or “we will draft player x”…..which will not happen.

    The unknown coupled with the possibility of sucking for another year right now just bites.

  • MrCleaveland

    I understand what you and TOJ are saying, but there are no shortcuts. Instead of using all that money on Williams, we could better use it to fill more holes. Once we get most of the holes filled and we start to resemble a competitive team, then we can break the bank on an expensive star. We need to spend wisely.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I certainly agree that our defensive line would be the best in the league if we added Mario Williams.  How crazy would that be?

  • Is_this_a_boil_or_pimple

    Sooner or later they need to realize they are losing the PR battle in Cleveland….I appreciate that they are honest but on the other hand common….just a bit of hope that we may try to do something would be nice.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’m preparing myself for the Browns to do very little or nothing at all in free agency and when that happens I’ll be one more step closer to frankly not caring what this team does anymore.  They better trade down from #4 and accumulate more picks this way instead of taking another six years to build the team maybe it’ll just take four.  This is another reason I can’t see them changing their strategy and trading away multiple draft picks to move up two spots to draft Griffin.

  • Big Z

    In related news, the sky is blue.

  • guest

    yea it has… look at his drafts since he has been here. try again next year

  • Big Z

    Yeah. And who cares if the Browns suck year after year, the fans still buy tickets…

  • saggy

    i COMPLETELY disagree.  I used to agree with that statement, but then I saw how guys like Peyton and Brees, and Peppers, and Deion (and even AJ Green) can change the entire team and culture.  GREATNESS is needed so that it can rub off on to everyone else.

    You’re telling me you’d rather have a rookie QB with huge upside (there’s not one of those available every year is there?) than maybe the best defensive player in the league?  Shell out the bucks.  this guy’s coming off of an injury so he won’t be getting $91 million.  

    it wouldn’t matter who we had at QB since the other team wouldn’t be scoring.

    (plus, you still would have your draft picks)

  • Vghnrbrt

     All right you football educated people! We have a good quarterback. He needs TIME to throw the ball, and it PEOPLE to catch it! Quit trying to re-invent the wheel! Work with what we have and build on it! You want to be an elite team, let’s do like they do and build a team the maintain it through solid management. Stop being so impatient!

  • Is_this_a_boil_or_pimple

    We have a good quarterback?  Based on what method are you using this evaluation?  Not saying throw him away……..but I seen little last year to establish him as “good”.