Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Takeaways from Day 1 of NFL owners meetings …
1. Kraft playing coy with Jimmy G: Maybe the Patriots just enjoy stringing along the Jimmy Garoppolo trade or no-trade story. I asked Patriots owner Robert Kraft directly if there were any circumstances under which the Patriots would trade their backup quarterback. He answered: “I think … I don’t have the right demeanor of our coach [Bill Belichick]. I charge him to handle all football matters. We’re privileged to have the greatest quarterback in the history of the game [Tom Brady] and it looks like he’s playing pretty solid. He’s off the charts, in my opinion, and we’re lucky to have him. That’s the most important position on the team, needless to say. I don’t think anyone can say you’ve got too much depth at that position. I’ve charged him to make those decisions, Bill, and I’ll leave that with him.” Belichick left NFL meetings in the early afternoon and will not attend the AFC coaches breakfast Tuesday morning to be able say – once and for all -- what his plans are for Garoppolo. Now, on two other subjects, Kraft’s answers were much more direct. Asked about how long he expects Brady, 39, to play, Kraft said, "As recently as 2-3 days ago, he assured me he'd be willing to play six to seven more years and at the level he performed. There's no one that would be happier than I, and our fan base." And then, asked about the possibility of losing cornerback Malcolm Butler, a restricted free agent linked to the Saints, Kraft said, “We have an offer sheet out to him and I know he has the ability to go out into the market and if he is signed we either match it and get the draft pick, first-round. I hope he’s with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us.” Is the intention to trade Butler? “No,” Kraft said. So, you see, it is within the Patriots to comment on their plans. They just refuse to do it with Garoppolo.
2. Another uniform re-do coming: Browns co-owner Dee Haslam confirmed the club is not satisfied with its uniform makeover, which was introduced for 2015, and will go through another extensive process to produce a better uniform look. The problem is they are stuck with the present colors and combinations through the 2019 season. A total makeover, which is done under the cooperation of NFL marketers and Nike, is a two-year process – which means the earliest they could begin that process is after the 2017 season. “We’ve learned a lot through that process,” Haslam said. “We will go through the process probably again.” Haslam said in the meantime, the Browns will seek an alternative look whenever the NFL allows, such as the “color rush” program for Thursday night games. “I definitely think there will be some changes for that. We didn’t get that opportunity last year,” Haslam said. Besides the general busy-ness in some of the nine uniform combinations presently used, Haslam admitted there is a problem with the fabric and the tightness of the jerseys that make them uncomfortable for the players. She said the Browns internally have talked about a new uniform look. “We’ve talked about it, but we haven’t conceptualized what that might be, and we have to work with the NFL on it,” Haslam said. “We’re the Cleveland Browns. We stand for a certain thing. I can’t imagine doing anything too crazy, can you? I can’t.” A source has said that the Browns are seriously looking at replacing the plain orange helmet with a plain white one. The Browns wore white helmets from their inception in 1946 through the 1950 season.
3. Still the Raiders: NFL owners approved the move of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas by a 31-1 vote, the lone dissenter being Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins. A new stadium won’t be completed until 2020 – estimated price-tag: $1.9 billion – so they will continue to be known as the Oakland Raiders for at least the next two seasons. A couple nuggets on this epic move: 1. The Browns are scheduled to play the Raiders on the road in 2018. That game will be played in Oakland because the Raiders have exercised the options on their lease at O.co Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Owner Mark Davis said he would like to stay through 2019, if possible, and be able to “bring a championship” to Oakland before he moves to Las Vegas. They won’t be formally known as the Las Vegas Raiders until 2020, said Commissioner Roger Goodell. 2. As a result of relocation fees assessed the Rams’ move to Los Angeles, the Chargers to Los Angeles and the Raiders to Las Vegas, each team will realize a windfall of approximately $53 million. Some of that is spread over time, but you can see why these relocation votes don’t receive much opposition, as long as the moving team follows league guidelines.