Former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker and Akron native James Harrison would welcome a chance to play for the Browns.
“Playing for the Browns would bring me back home,” Harrison said through his agent, Bill Parise. “It would be great.”
However, as of this afternoon, Parise said he had not talked to the Browns about Harrison, a product of Coventry High School and Kent State University.
Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowl and two-time All Pro selection, became a salary-cap casualty and was cut by the Steelers on Saturday. He’ll turn 35 on May 4. The Browns are determined to avoid stopgap solutions, so they would probably only be interested in Harrison if they believe he has a few productive seasons left.
Harrison flirting with the idea of joining the Browns is intriguing for at least a couple obvious reasons.
The first is his status as public enemy No. 1 in Browns Town. In 2010, Harrison gave Browns wide receivers Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi concussions with blows to the head in the same game. In 2011, Harrison gave Browns quarterback Colt McCoy a concussion with a vicious helmet-to-facemask hit that led to a huge controversy because McCoy was allowed to re-enter the game after the team’s medical staff failed to test him for a concussion.
The second is Harrison’s notable ties to the Browns’ new regime. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton coached the Steelers’ defensive backs from 2004-10, and he needs linebackers for the multi-front 3-4 system he’ll bring to Cleveland. Harrison had his best season in 2008, compiling career highs in tackles (101) and sacks (16) en route to being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is certainly familiar with Harrison, too, because he bought a minority stake in the Steelers in 2008.
Harrison has had at least 10 sacks in three seasons (2008-10). He had six sacks this past season and nine in 2011. He was limited all of last season because of a knee injury, but he started all 13 games to end the year after missing the first three.
Dr. Craig Brigham, a neck and spine specialist, send a memo to NFL teams refuting that Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones ever had a significant spinal-cord contusion, Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune and National Football Post reported today.
Jones, a potential target of the Browns in next month’s draft, was diagnosed with spinals stenosis in 2009 after he suffered a neck injury while playing for Southern California. USC’s doctors would not clear him to return to football, so he transferred to Georgia and starred there for two seasons.
Jones said last month at the NFL Scouting Combine he has a narrowing between the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck.
“But most of the doctors checked me out and feel that I'm fine,” Jones said. “I don't have any contusion or anything like that in it.”
According to Pompei’s report, Brigham concluded that Jones either had a very mild incident of spinal-cord concussion or a stinger that has long since resolved, and that if he suffered a similar injury, it wouldn’t end his career. Brigham also concluded, “Jarvis is cleared to play without restriction.”
Jones led the nation in sacks (14 1/2), tackles for loss (24 1/2) and forced fumbles (seven) last season. He believes he can play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme in the NFL, but he conceded he's more comfortable in a 4-3.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said last month during a conference call that the Browns should target Jones with the sixth overall pick, provided he checks out medically. If the Browns don’t sign a premier pass rusher -- like Paul Kruger of the Baltimore Ravens or Cliff Avril of the Detroit Lions -- in free agency, which officially begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday, they’ll be expected to make it a top priority in the draft, which runs April 25-27.
Not lacking confidence
On Friday, Browns cornerback Joe Haden told Pro Football Talk he believes he’s the second-best corner in the NFL after Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets.
“This is just me being real 100 percent, I would say Darrelle Revis,” Haden said when asked to name the best player at his position. “I studied tape on guys and I try to look and see what I can do to get my game to be on their levels [and] I feel like I’m honestly the No. 2 cornerback in the league.”
Haden added that he would rank himself ahead of Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
When asked to grade NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Haden said he would give him an A. Haden also said he would like Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, a soon-to-be free agent, to play for the Browns, and he believes quarterback Brandon Weeden has the intelligence and arm strength needed to improve.