Originally published at 12:31 p.m.; updated at 3:43 p.m.
Browns President Mike Holmgren made the rounds today on local sports talk radio shows. He was a guest this afternoon on 92.3 The Fan (92.3-FM), and he also did an interview this morning with WKNR (850-AM).
Here are some highlights from Holmgren’s interview with The Bull and The Fox show on 92.3 The Fan:
What went into the decision to trade up from the fourth overall pick to the third overall selection to take Alabama running back Trent Richardson?: “Well, once we made the decision that Trent was gonna be the guy we went after, even though you think you’re pretty safe at four and we were pretty sure Minnesota wasn’t gonna take a back because they have a fine running back [Adrian Peterson] there, but you never know if someone’s gonna hop over you into that spot to take your guy. So we had to talk about how far were we willing to go if we had to, if we thought we had to, to move up and make the pick. And so once that was decided, then it was easy. Even though a lot of people said we didn’t have to move up, we did have to move up. Believe me. And we got our guy. So at the end of the day … if you get your player, then the rest of it doesn’t mean a whole lot.”
There are reports out there that you guys really wanted Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright, and when he wasn’t there, you decided to pick Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden 22nd overall. Was that the case?: “Yeah, that’s kind of how it came down. We will never know for sure, but between the time we picked [Richardson as No. 3] and the time we got to 22, there’s a lot of discussion as you might imagine in our room as players were coming off the board. We liked Kendall Wright a lot, and we knew wide receiver was an area that we were gonna try to hit in the draft one way or another. But then we also liked the quarterback a lot. So the decision in essence was made for us, and Kendall went before us [when the Tennessee Titans picked him at No. 20], and so at that point, it became pretty easy to take the quarterback.”
If Wright was available and you took him at No. 22, were you thinking about trading up from No. 37 to take Brandon Weeden or would you have waited till No. 37 and hoped to pick him there?: “Well, you know that was the discussion. That was the discussion, quite honestly. Before Kendall was chosen, [we asked each other], ‘How are we gonna do this?’ We had talked about it for weeks prior to the draft, and then if we’re willing to take the quarterback at 37 and that’s what we thought we could do – and maybe we could, maybe we couldn’t ‘cause you think you have it all figured out but then all some team has to do is pop up in there ahead of you and grab him. [Texas A&M quarterback Ryan] Tannehill had already gone with the eighth pick in the draft, so it became a little like I said, ‘If we’re gonna take [Weeden], let’s take him.’ That was kind of the discussion in the room. I didn’t pound the table. It was [coach] Pat [Shurmur] and [General Manager] Tom [Heckert] and I. We had talked about this so much before the draft that it was not a difficult thing to do and we loved the quarterback, so we just went ahead and did it.”
Is it a misconception when a lot of people feel like you’re not all in when it comes to your job with the Browns?: “Honestly, I don’t know where that comes from. I really don’t. Maybe it comes from wanting me to be a little bit more out there in press conferences and different things. Maybe that’s it. But rest assured, I’m all in. [My wife], Kathy, and I, we love Cleveland, and this is our home. I know some things were mentioned prior to the draft. I had to shoot out to Seattle. Well, it was the dedication in my church for my grandson, so we wanted to be there. There were reasons I shot out there for just a little, and I wasn’t gone two weeks. You know? So I don’t know where this stuff comes from. I suppose people can believe me or not believe me, but I’ve never had a job anywhere where I wasn’t all in. And I’m all in here. It’s just that I’m not coaching anymore, and my role is different. But Pat and Tom and I talk every day. The coaches, we have a great staff. A lot of them worked for me at one time or another, and there’s great communication here. It’s just that I think I have been very, very comfortable in allowing Tom and wanting Tom and Pat to kind of pass the baton to them and let them be the guys, the face of the team, and that’s kind of the way it should be.”
At what point in time did you kind of make your mind up that you need to go into another direction at quarterback?: “Well, I wouldn’t say we’ve made up our mind to go in another direction. Now we drafted a young quarterback [Weeden] that we think can come in and play right away, has that type of maturity, but we’re not just handing him the football. It’s gonna be a competition as always as it should be at every position. The quarterback position obviously gets talked about most on any team, but I love Colt McCoy. I still love Colt McCoy, but I will always try and do what I think we have to do to make the team better and to improve ourselves. And we had a chance to get a veteran, not a veteran, although he’s 28 years old, a mature quarterback who has a chance to come in with that maturity and contribute right away. Whether that happens or not, we have to let it play out. We have to let him compete. We have to let him play and see what happens. But certainly the fact that we drafted him so high means we like him. But we also like Colt McCoy, and we like Seneca Wallace as well.”
After McCoy re-entered the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last December after suffering a concussion, McCoy’s father was outspoken about it. Did those comments have any impact on your decision to draft Weeden?: “No, not at all. I’m kind of sorry that it came out like that, but as a father myself, I totally understand the emotion of it. But it was too bad, and I think immediately after it happened, everyone kind of felt like, ‘Gee, that’s too bad it happened.’”
Is it fair to say either McCoy or Wallace will not be on the roster when the season starts?: “Well, again, I think we have to let that one play out. You know I would agree with the comment that you don’t see it too often, but you have seen it. Again, when we look at the roster, we’re gonna do what we feel is best for the team at the particular time. And right now, they're all here and they’re competing like crazy, so that’s what I want.”
Here are some highlights from Holmgren’s interview with The Really Big Show on WKNR:
Other than drafting Miami’s Travis Benjamin, it looks like the Browns have ignored the wide receiver position. Can you explain where you’re at with that?: “We went into the draft particularly in the first round with picks four and 22 with a plan to try and – actually, we included pick 37, which was the first pick of the second round – with a plan of trying to come out of there with three players at three different positions. Like most drafts, it didn’t quite happen that way. So we went to plan B, which we had talked about. We weren’t gonna wait on Weeden, so we picked him at 22. And really by that time, we didn’t want to lose the [offensive right] tackle [Mitchell Schwartz of California at No. 37], which was very important. So it kind of evolved that way. Now having said that, there’s a chance that between now and the time the season [starts] that there’ll be an addition to the wide receiver group. But if there isn’t, then honestly I feel pretty good about our guys. I said this last year and I’ll say it again. I think [Greg] Little proved he can play in the league, and he’s gonna get nothing but better after his first year. The wildcard to me is Mo [Massaquoi]. Mohamed has to come in, and I believe in that young man. I really do. I think he’s finally gotten over the concussion thing he had, and it kind of changed his game just a little bit in my opinion. But he is a talented guy. I’ve had great talks with him. I think he can be a really, really fine player, so we’ll see. If that happens and then with the addition of Benjamin, who is fast on fast – I mean he can really run – I think we’re gonna be OK there. Now did we go into the draft thinking we could pick up another one? Yes, we did. But it didn’t happen.”
Do you think McCoy will be on this roster come training camp?: “Well, I just saw him downstairs. He’s in our program right now, our offseason program, working like crazy like he always does. I would agree with the people that felt [McCoy didn’t get a fair shot last season]. I thought it wasn’t fair necessarily for him last year. I think he got the heck beat out of him for one thing. We did not have a good running game, and the quarterback, particularly a young quarterback, needs that. There was a lockout. All those things that people talk about, those are real. That was true. I love Colt McCoy. I always will and I always have. But it’s also my obligation to strengthen the team if I see a chance to strengthen the team, and that’s what we did [by drafting Weeden]. Now what does the future hold? Time will tell. Right now, [McCoy is] competing, and it’s wide open and that’s the way it is. Now if something happens down the road, then something happens down the road. But he is a great young man and what he did last year – he did a lot of great things last year – and so he’s handling it like I would expect him to handle it. He knows this is a competitive business, and he knows what he has to do. We’ve got one ball. Here’s the ball. Let’s see what happens.”
Was it a unanimous no-brainer to draft Richardson?: “Yeah, it was. No, you know what? I’m not gonna say it’s a no-brainer. I’m just saying when we evaluated, when we had our meetings, there were two or three players that we thought we’re capable of taking at four. But based on what we need as a team, then it became pretty evident and pretty obvious that the running back was the best choice for us. That’s taking nothing away from the other guys who we looked at ‘cause they went very high as well. But I think in Trent Richardson, you heard his story. This young man is special, and I think he’s special for a lot of reasons. Now we’ve just gotta keep him healthy and give him the ball and let him run and block for him a little bit. I think the fans here are gonna love him, and good players make good coaches.”
You’re halfway through your five-year contract that you signed. Can you give us any insight into your future plans and how long do you feel you want to be around here doing what you’re doing now?: “Well, I said this, and I told Randy Lerner, our owner, this and he’s great with me. And as I said, ‘In 10 years, I’ll be 75, so my 65th birthday is coming up here pretty soon.’ I would like to be here. First of all, I’m a man of my word, and a contract to me is a contract. That’s the first thing I want to say. The second thing is that in a perfect world, I don’t want to go anywhere. First of all, there’s no other place I want to go. That’s the first thing. The second thing is I would like to be here to enjoy the turnaround, to enjoy when we said, ‘OK. We’ve got it in the right place. There are good times ahead. I’ve contributed a little bit to that.’ And then I could feel good if I were to back away.”