BEREA: Hundreds of young men had to put their dreams on hold after they were not selected in this year’s NFL Draft.
In a normal offseason, teams sign those players immediately after the draft in late April. The league’s lockout, however, kept the usual process from unfolding and left undrafted free agents in limbo.
NFL teams were finally allowed to sign undrafted rookies Tuesday. The Browns agreed to deals with 22, a team spokesman said. The Browns have yet to announce the names of the undrafted rookies with whom they have agreed to terms. The following is an unofficial list of 17 compiled from several reports:
Missouri cornerback Carl Gettis; Notre Dame linebacker Brian Smith; Maryland linebacker Alex Wujciak; Tennessee State linebacker Sidney Tarver; Georgetown College defensive lineman Kyle Anderson; Western Michigan wide receiver Juan Nunez; Kentucky wide receiver Chris Matthews; UTEP running back Donald Buckram; Hillsdale quarterback Troy Weatherhead; Appalachian State defensive lineman Jabari Fletcher; Oregon State cornerback James Dockery; Minnesota offensive lineman Dominic Alford; Delaware State defensive lineman Andre Carroll; Tennessee offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw, Delta State wide receiver L.J. Castile; TCU tight end Evan Frosch and Omaha Nighthawks kicker Jeff Wolfert, who played at Missouri from 2006-08 but has been in the UFL since.
The aforementioned players will be long shots to make the team. Still, they’re certainly grateful to be able to give it a shot.
“I was praying [Monday] night, just hoping I’d get my opportunity, and woke up this morning with great news and great information,” Nunez, who had 91 catches for 1,032 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior at Western Michigan, told the Kalamazoo Gazette on Tuesday afternoon. “My agent called me and told me I’m going to the ‘Dawg Pound,’ and I was like, ‘What’s the Dawg Pound?’ He said, ‘The Browns.’ And I just broke down in tears. I just learned what patience really was. I wasn’t trying to get all antsy. I learned a lot about patience.”
As part of the new labor deal, signed rookies, drafted or undrafted, can begin practicing as soon as camp starts. However, other free agents who sign later this week will have to wait until the start of the new league year on Aug. 4 to begin practicing with their new teams. Full free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Friday.
The new salary cap has been set at $120.375 million for 2011. The Browns are $33.3 million under the cap, ESPN’s John Clayton reported.
Teams were permitted to begin negotiating, but not sign, their own free agents and those from other teams on Tuesday.
“We’ve talked to quite a few players,” Browns General Manager Tom Heckert said on the team’s radio show. “…We’ll see what happens. It’s a different process.”
Browns quarterback Colt McCoy’s flight to Cleveland was delayed, but he eventually arrived at the team’s facility Tuesday afternoon. A team spokesman said McCoy met with new quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple.
“Flights delayed, bags got lost, been a long morning,” McCoy wrote on Twitter. “BUT, I made it to Cleveland and [I’m] ready to go!”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at http://browns.ohio.com. Follow the Browns on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ABJ_Browns and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/browns.abj.