Tue Apr 24 3:41pm ET
By TOM WITHERS
AP Sports Writer
In this April 19, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey answers questions about the draft during a news conference at the NFL football team's training camp facility, in Berea, Ohio. With the NFL draft quickly approaching, the teams die-hard supporters, and there have been few groups in NFL history to suffer like this one has the past two seasons, are divided over which of the top four college QBs the team should select. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
CLEVELAND (AP) As far as Cleveland fans are concerned, only one quarterback fits all the essential criteria for the Browns to draft him with the No. 1 overall pick.
His last name? Darnoldallenrosenmayfield.
With the NFL draft quickly approaching, the team's die-hard supporters, and there have been few groups in NFL history to suffer like this one has the past two seasons, are divided over which of the top four college QBs the team should select.
There's the Sam Darnold contingent, which sees the two-year Southern Cal starter as the safest choice, the one who checks all the positive boxes. Josh Allen's supporters point to the big Wyoming QB's high-velocity arm, which could help him knife passes through those tricky home winds off Lake Erie.
Josh Rosen's backers love the UCLA star's accuracy and his cerebral game. And of course there's the Baker Mayfield army, which dismiss his 6-foot frame and believe Oklahoma's swaggering Heisman Trophy winner is the next Brett Favre.
Oh, and let's not forget the fans who feel Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is worthy of going first and that the Browns can wait until No. 4 to get their quarterback.
But while there's no clear consensus between fans as the Browns prepare for a franchise-changing draft, general manager John Dorsey and his staff will have presumably reached an accord by the time Commissioner Roger Goodell is handed their card on the stage at AT&T Stadium.
If not, well, these are the bumbling Browns.
Cleveland's inability to find a franchise quarterback - they've had 28 starters since 1999 - is the biggest reason for the team's sustained misery. And once again they have the chance to correct the problem after passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts.
Dorsey, who as Kanas City's GM got the Chiefs turned around with some solid drafts, has been aggressive in fixing mistakes by previous Cleveland regimes. Since December, he's traded for QB Tyrod Taylor and Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, revamped the secondary and spent months scouting the top quarterbacks.
He knows what he's looking for.
''The only thing I really care about is do the guys win?'' he said ''Does he have accuracy? Does he have a strong arm? Can he throw the ball in the red zone and in tight windows? Can he drive the ball? At the end of the game, does he win? That is kind of what I look for.''
Dorsey insists he's keeping his options open, and that he'd trade the top pick for the right package. ''My phone always rings,'' he said. And with several teams in the market for a quarterback, it's likely the Browns will entertain offers. However, that doesn't mean Dorsey will make a deal.
The Browns remain haunted by their decision to trade first-round picks with Philadelphia and Houston the past two years, swaps that cost them Wentz and Watson.
Dorsey raised some eyebrows last week when he cited the importance of hand size as one of his top criteria in selecting a quarterback. Cleveland's inclement weather can make gripping the ball a challenge, and therefore the bigger the hand, the better.
Using hands as an exclusive measuring stick, Allen (10 1/8 inches) would be Dorsey's favorite over Rosen (9 7/8), Darnold (9 3/8) and Mayfield (9 1/4).
The top pick isn't the only tough choice for the Browns, who may be torn at No. 4 between taking Barkley (if he's still available) or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb.
The 6-foot-4, 270 pound Chubb would be a perfect complement to Myles Garrett, last year's top overall pick who had a solid rookie season despite being slowed by an ankle injury. Chubb led the ACC with 10 sacks last season, and the thought of having to block him and Garrett would give an NFL offensive coordinator nightmares.
''I would be thrilled to have a guy like that because he fits all of the models we talk about,'' Dorsey said. ''He is a good football player. He is a man of character. He would be great in the locker room. Really, he is a super kid.''
HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS
Garrett was a smart pick, but the Browns haven't been so savvy in recent years. Of the team's 11 first-round selections since 2012, only four are still with the team - and three were selected last year.
Wide receiver Corey Coleman (No. 15 in 2016) has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. The Browns did find a late-round gem that year in linebacker Joe Schobert (No. 99 overall), who made the Pro Bowl in his second season.
The Arizona Cardinals signed veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a one-year deal on Wednesday so that he can return for a 16th season. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. Fitzgerald will turn 36 at the end of August but will remain the No. 1 wideout on the team because of his experience. His numbers took a hit in one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2018, but he still led the team in receptions (69), receiving yards (734) and touchdowns (six). While Fitz can still make an impact on the field, he'll be returning to his third head coach in three years, but the addition of Kliff Kingsbury could improve the offense moving forward. We won't say for sure that Fitzgerald will return to the 1,000-yard mark, but he should be a serviceable WR3 at the very least.
Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is expected to land with the New England Patriots in a top defensive role when linebackers coach Brian Flores heading to the Miami Dolphins.
Former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has emerged as the favorite to be hired as Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator, according to sources.
Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald announced Wednesday, Jan. 23, that he'll return for the 2019 season.
Fantasy Spin: Fitz had a 69-734-6 season, which was well below the 100-catch, 1,000-yard seasons the three years previously. The rookie quarterback was part of the problem, but he doesn't have much more upside next season. He's still a PPR asset, but he'll be a mid-round option as a WR3.
Updating an earlier report, Arizona Cardinals impending free-agent WR Larry Fitzgerald re-signed with the Cardinals on a one-year deal. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson (hip) is on schedule with his recovery from an October hip injury that landed him on IR and could be at full speed when the team's offseason workout program begins in April.
Fantasy Spin: After four largely nondescript seasons in Kansas City, Wilson flashed some playmaking ability before getting injured against the Lions. There are far too many variables in Miami for an accurate read on Wilson's fantasy prospects for 2019, but he did enough last year to warrant your attention.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles would be eligible to be franchise or transition tagged and then traded if the team decides not to pick up his option, which ESPN's Chris Mortensen believes is a possibility as doing so would allow the Eagles to influence Foles' destination.
Fantasy Spin: Mortensen indicates such a move would prevent Foles from going to a division rival, but it's all speculation at this point. While it's far from a sure thing, Foles could have some fantasy value in the right situation.
Oakland Raiders CB Daryl Worley (shoulder) had successful surgery on his ailing shoulder last week, according to head coach Jon Gruden.
Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Crabtree is likely to be released in the offseason, according to The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec.
Dallas Cowboys impending free-agent WR Cole Beasley claimed Tuesday, Jan. 22, that the Dallas front office encourages the coaching staff to get the football to certain players. 'I haven't been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I'm not sure,' Beasley said.
Fantasy Spin: Beasley's frustrations are evident and understandable, although Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Gallup are all bigger, more talented threats with the ball. Beasley does have a role to play and put together his second best season from a statistical standpoint. That being said, he's only a mid- to late-round PPR flier if he stays in Dallas.
Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said the team is "optimistic" that quarterback Alex Smith (leg) will be ready for the start of the 2019 season, but he also said "we'll see." In his first year with Washington, Smith was a disappointment, throwing for 2,108 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions with an 85.7 QB rating in 10 games before his gruesome leg injury. He'll be heading into his age-35 season and is unlikely to be ready for training camp or the regular season, so he's one to avoid for fantasy purposes. The 'Skins are in dire need of a long-term quarterback.
The Kansas City Chiefs relieved defensive coordinator Bob Sutton of his duties on Tuesday. Sutton was head coach Andy Reid's defensive coordinator for all six of his years in KC, but the Chiefs defense continued to trend downward in 2018 and was their Achilles heel in the AFC Championship loss to the Patriots last weekend. Defensive end Chris Jones -- third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2018 -- and linebacker Dee Ford are the linchpins of this defense, but they must improve their talent in the secondary. The Chiefs ranked 31st in yards allowed per game (405.5), 31st in passing yards allowed (273.4), 27th in rushing yards allowed (132.1), 24th in points allowed (26.3) and tied for eighth in takeaways (27) in 2018.
Oakland Raiders impending free-agent TE Jared Cook will be re-signed if head coach Jon Gruden has his way, but Gruden admitted that Cook will be a popular name on the free-agent market.
Fantasy Spin: Cook was one of the few bright spots for the Raiders this season, and maybe the lone bright spot. He's a top-five fantasy tight end candidate now after finishing 2018 as the TE5.
Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones led all receivers with 24 receptions for first downs on 30 third-down targets this past season.
Fantasy Spin: Despite a slow start in the TD department (none in his first seven games) Jones also wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,677) for the second time in the last four seasons. And even with Jones turning 30 this offseason (on Super Bowl Sunday), he remains an elite WR1 in all fantasy formats.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team is unsure if impending free-agent running back Marshawn Lynch plans to play in 2019. Gruden said "we'd love to have him back" if he decides to play another season. Beast Mode will turn 33 in April and is coming off a season in which he played in just six games due to injury. Lynch ran 90 times for 376 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and three scores. Even if Lynch returns, he'd be more of a low-upside, injury-risk RB2 for Oakland that is more attractive in standard-scoring leagues.
Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said the team would like to re-sign impending free-agent tight end Jared Cook, but he knows the market for his services will be competitive. He'll be in high demand after he set career highs across the board in catches (68), targets (101), yards (896) and touchdowns (six) for the Raiders. Given the sad state of the tight end position in fantasy, Cook was a strong TE1 this year and will likely be drafted as one again this year, depending on where he lands. Staying in Oakland might be the best for his value.
The Cincinnati Bengals are hiring former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan as their next offensive coordinator. Callahan has never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL but has been a QBs coach since 2015. He'll oversee an offense that could easily bounce back after serious injuries to quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green derailed them in 2018. Cincinnati finished 26th in yards per game (310.8), 24th in passing yards per game (205.6), 21st in rushing yards per game (105.1) and 17th in points per game (23.0) in 2018.
Oakland Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch, an impending free agent this offseason, hasn't announced whether he plans on playing in 2019, but if he does, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday, Jan. 22, that 'we'd love to have him back.'
Fantasy Spin: Lynch will be 33 by the time next season rolls around, but he'd still be a fantasy RB2 consideration if were to be projected to be the primary RB in Oakland.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo (knee) was throwing passes to RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) recently, 49ers general manager John Lynch said Tuesday, Jan. 22, in an interview.
Fantasy Spin: All appears to be going well in the recovery of Garoppolo, who was injured in Week 3. There are sure to be plenty of updates upcoming throughout the offseason, but expect Garoppolo to be ready for training camp.
San Francisco 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon (knee) was recently seen catching passes from QB Jimmy Garoppolo, general manager John Lynch said Tuesday, Jan. 22, in an interview.
Fantasy Spin: A preseason knee injury shelved McKinnon for the season, but at least it happened earlier enough that McKinnon is expected to participate in training camp and be ready for the start of 2019 season. And that coupled with the Niners' strong productiveness with several different backs makes McKinnon an intriguing fantasy bounce-back candidate.