It was presumed that the Browns' four-game winning streak to finish a 5-11 season in 2009 knocked them out of the running for University of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.
But Browns General Manager Tom Heckert didn't rule out trading up from No. 7 in the April 22-24 NFL Draft. That might be necessary if the Browns covet Bradford, who could go No. 1 to St. Louis, or perhaps Tennessee free safety Eric Berry.
''I don’t think we’re closing the door on anything,'' Heckert said Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. ''We’re not shutting the door on moving up or even moving back. We’re listening to a lot of different teams. Obviously it’s still early. We have talked to teams about moving up and moving back. We’re not closing the door on any position.''
Heckert said the talk of moving up does not hinge on the fact that the NFL appears to be headed to a season without a salary cap, barring a miraculous last-minute settlement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
''It really doesn’t matter,'' Heckert said of the uncapped year. ''My job is to get good football players. If I think we can get a really good football player by moving up and if we have a chance to do that, we’ll do it.''
Browns coach Eric Mangini also endorsed the possibility of moving up, saying he'd done it during his three years with the New York Jets.
''I’m not opposed to trading up or back,'' Mangini said. ''In New York we traded up twice that second year to get (cornerback Darrelle) Revis and (linebacker David) Harris. We traded back a bunch. Either way. I don’t mind.''
Asked if he thought Bradford is a franchise quarterback, Heckert said, ''He’s a heckuva football player. I think there’s a feel for the draft. Everybody wants to say he’s a franchise, but until he does it you never know.
''He’s a big kid, he’s accurate, he won a lot of football games. He's a leader. That pretty much sums it up. He has all the tools to put it together. Whether it happens, you never know.''
Heckert addressed a number of other subjects:
* On the tenders for the Browns restricted free agents, due at 4 p.m, Thursday: ''We're probably going to do that Wednesday or wait until Thursday. We’ll probably talk with the agents and players on Wednesday, so we may not release that until Wednesday night or Thursday.''
The group include linebackers D'Qwell Jackson, Matt Roth and Jason Trusnik, safeties Abe Elam and Brodney Pool, running back Jerome Harrison and fullback Lawrence Vickers. Heckert said he had not discussed long-term contracts with any of them.
* On unrestricted free agents like guard Rex Hadnot and receiver Mike Furrey: ''We’ve talked at length about those guys and we haven’t made any firm decisions. We’ll do that when we get back'' from Indianapolis.
* On the Joshua Cribbs contract talks: ''We’ve met with his agents almost every day here and we’re still working on it. There’s nothing really new to report.''
* On the Browns' approach to free agency, which opens Friday: ''It kind of depends on how things pan out in the next few days, before it actually starts. If there’s players out there we think can help us, we’ll definitely go after them. That’s our plan. I don’t think we’re going to sign 12 guys.''
* On injured nose tackle Shaun Rogers (broken leg) and linebacker Eric Barton (neck): ''(Rogers) was in the building last week and I talked to him. He’s all set, he should be ready to go for minicamps. I think (Barton) is scheduled to back to see the doctor. We assume all of our guys are going to be back ready to go. I don’t think we’re going to miss anybody.''
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