Browns just can't stay out of trouble

Cleveland Browns rookie linebacker Ausar Walcott was arrested Tuesday and charged with attempted murder for allegedly punching a man outside a club in Northern New Jersey, the latest incident in a troublesome offseason for the Browns.

Over the past three months, the Browns have had their owner investigated by the FBI, three players arrested (for drunken driving, solicitation and now attempted murder) and one player suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

When it comes to reality shows, this is beyond "Hard Knocks." This is CSI Cleveland.

The Browns can change owners, general managers and coaches. The embarrassing headlines just don't change. This is more than bad luck. These are bad decisions.

Everything was supposed to change when the Browns went from absentee owner Randy Lerner to the more hands-on Jimmy Haslam. Except Haslam pleading ignorance in the rebate fraud scandal surrounding his family-run truck stop business doesn't paint a good picture. Being clueless is not the trait you want in a leader.

Other than the Browns adding first-round pick Barkevious Mingo to their revamped pass rush, the team has been making news for all of the wrong reasons since April:

  • Linebacker Quentin Groves, who was signed as a free agent, was arrested during a prostitution sting on April 17.

  • Rookie defensive end Armonty Bryant was arrested for driving under the influence on May 3, six days after he was drafted in the seventh round and eight months after he was arrested for selling marijuana to an undercover officer.

  • Wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for two games and fined two additional game checks by the NFL for failing a drug test. Gordon said he tested positive for codeine, which was in cold medicine prescribed for strep throat.

This latest incident is more disturbing than the others. Authorities told The Bergen Record that Walcott punched Derrick Jones in the head early Sunday morning outside a club in Northern New Jersey. Police say Jones is in critical condition.

Signed as an undrafted free agent last month, Walcott has been charged with second-degree aggravated assault and third-degree endangering an injured victim in addition to the first-degree attempted murder charge. This isn't the first time Walcott has been arrested. In January 2011, he faced charges of assault and battery from a fight while he was at Virginia. Walcott was suspended from the team but was reinstated after charges were dropped.

The Browns aren't the only team making headlines for legal matters. The New England Patriots released tight end Aaron Hernandez after he was arrested Wednesday morning, more than a week after an acquaintance of the tight end was found dead in an industrial park near his house. And please don't ask if the Browns would be interested in signing Hernandez. This offseason has been rough enough already for the Browns.