INDIANAPOLIS: Acquiring San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is reportedly no longer an option for the Browns.
A deal for Smith is “effectively complete,” Jason La Canfora of CBS reported Sunday. According to La Canfora, the 49ers informed other teams that the deal is essentially finished but can’t be finalized until March 12.
The trade partner is unknown, but a source told the Plain Dealer the Browns are not the team with a deal in place for Smith.
La Canfora speculated that the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars made sense. However, Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell told the Florida Times-Union via a text message that the trade did not involve Jacksonville.
Cleveland has often been labeled a logical landing spot for Smith because he played for new Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner in 2006 and the organization is seeking to acquire competition for incumbent starter Brandon Weeden, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft.
When asked Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine if the Browns have talked about trading for Smith, CEO Joe Banner said, “We’ve discussed every quarterback who’s available in trade or free agency or even those that we think we could maybe make somebody who wasn’t planning on making available in trade. But what the outcome of that discussion is, I’m not going to get into. But we’ve talked about every single possible player at the positions we think we’re focusing on right now.”
Banner also said the Browns see potential in Weeden, 29, and want to work with him.
“I think we want to give him the best chance to succeed,” Banner said. “We have a huge vested interest in him being successful.”
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that the Chiefs have shown more interest than anyone else in dealing for Smith, who lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernik after suffering a concussion in the 49ers’ ninth game last season.
Smith, 28, is considered the biggest-name quarterback available this offseason. Friday at the combine, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Smith would either remain with the team or be traded, but releasing him is unlikely.
The Browns will certainly continue to explore their options. Matt Moore of the Miami Dolphins, Chase Daniel of the New Orleans Saints, Brian Hoyer of the Arizona Cardinals and Derek Anderson of the Carolina Panthers are among the quarterbacks they could target in free agency, which begins at 4 p.m. March 12.
The Browns also have the sixth overall pick in the draft, which runs April 25-27, though Banner said their focus is not on taking a quarterback at No. 6.
Free agent to visit
Wide receiver Steve Breaston, whom the Chiefs cut on Feb. 19, plans to visit the Browns soon, a league source told the Beacon Journal.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
NFL.com reported Breaston will visit the Browns on Tuesday.
A six-year veteran who also played for the Cardinals, Breaston signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Chiefs in 2011. He fell out of favor there last season, catching only seven passes for 74 yards in 10 games. In some of the games he sat out, he was a healthy scratch.
Breaston, 29, has played in 86 games with 43 starts and has totaled 255 receptions for 3,387 yards and nine touchdowns. His career high of 1,006 yards came in 2008 with the Cardinals. He had more than 700 yards in three seasons, including 2011, when he caught 61 passes, two for scores.
ProFootballTalk.com reported that Breaston met with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Breaston was born in North Braddock, Pa. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley coached Breaston with the Cardinals and his first year with the Chiefs.
NFL.com reported that the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans are also interested in Breaston. With the Browns, he could take the roster spot of Mohamed Massaquoi, who’s set to become a free agent on March 12 and is not expected to return.
“I know of the Pittsburgh tradition and the winning ways, and it would be a great team to be involved with, but for me, it is all about using this process,” Breaston told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I have to take everything in and see what would be a good fit for me and where I can come in and play.”
Brigham Young defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah could be a potential target of the Browns, who have the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft.
Ansah is a native of Ghana who started playing football in 2010 after failing to make BYU’s basketball team. Although Ansah is an extremely inexperienced football player, he turned heads last month at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Former Browns General Manager Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl, was among those impressed.
“Ziggy played in the Senior Bowl, and on game day, he was absolutely the best player on the field,” Savage said Sunday at the combine. “He’s got the height, the weight, the speed, and I think he’s got more of an instinctive nature than maybe people thought. Since he’s a foreign-born player, he hadn’t really been on the field except for two years, but this guy’s got some rare qualities. He’s over 6-5. He’s over 270 [pounds]. He’s going to run fast, and he’s got strength in his hands, which is a little bit unusual for somebody that doesn’t have much experience in the game. His ceiling is as high as anybody here. I’m talking about all 333 players. It’s going to take a lot of courage to turn the pick in at a really high level, but I think he’s absolutely in the conversation.”
Ansah and several other rush linebacker prospects will work out today at the combine. Banner indicated the Browns are in the market for one as they convert from a 4-3 system to defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme.
“The reality is that every defensive player in the front seven that you see in college is a projection into the 3-4,” Savage said. “In other words, is he a nose [tackle]? Is he a D-end? Is he an outside linebacker? And then at the linebacker level, is he an outside, on-the-line player? Is he an inside, off-the-line player? Or does he not fit at all and he’s a nickel linebacker that’s going to play on third down?
“It takes some time and a lot of training to get your scouts and your coaches on the same page so everybody’s kind of seeing from the same lens and identifying these players and then having a vision for them in the future. When you make that transition, I’ve always said it’s at least a year and a half before you can start really being able to evaluate and judge because it’s going to take that long before you get enough pieces in place.”
Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones received a favorable medical review from Dr. Craig Brigham, a neck and spine specialist, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported.
Jones was diagnosed with spinal 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 made a comeback. On Saturday, Jones said he has a narrowing between the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said last week during a conference call that he thinks the Browns should target Jones at No. 6, provided he checks out medically. Banner said the Browns will consider the medical history of every prospect and consult their medical staff during draft meetings.
Jones led the nation in sacks (14½), tackles for loss (24½) 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.
Back to Ohio
The NFL’s annual rookie symposium will be June 23-29 in Aurora, league spokesman Corry Rush said. The location has yet to be finalized, Rush said.
The symposium was held in Aurora for the first time last year. Some of its events were held at the Browns’ training facility in Berea and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at https://ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/browns.abj.??Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read the her blog at https://ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.