Did Browns Inability to Hide Preference for Weeden to Start Cost Them Money?

Sigmund BloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJuly 24, 2012

BEREA, OH - MAY 12: Quarterback Brandon Weeden #3 of the Cleveland Browns during the second day of minicamp at Cleveland Browns training facility on May 12, 2012 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

In the last week, the 23rd pick (Detroit Lions' Riley Reiff), 24th pick (Pittsburgh Steelers' David DeCastro) and 25th pick (New England Patriots' Dont'a Hightower) have all signed their rookie contracts. It was safe to assume that 22nd overall pick Brandon Weeden would sign with Cleveland soon after, and today, he did, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal.

The new collective bargaining agreement leaves little wiggle room for the total amount of the contract (about $8.1 million over four years), but that doesn't mean the team and Weeden's camp didn't find something to fight about.

The amount of money guaranteed in the fourth year was an issue, with 21st pick Chandler Jones getting about $750,000 guaranteed in the last year of his contract but DeCastro, Hightower and 26th pick Whitney Mercilus getting nothing guaranteed in the fourth year.

Weeden was able to get more than Jones, $900,000 guaranteed in his fourth year, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. There is a quarterback premium in play here, but there's also a "player we are already counting on" premium at work.

The Browns have made no secret of their expectation of Weeden to win the starting job from Colt McCoy in training camp, basically admitting that if he doesn't it will be a major disappointment.

That takes away any hardball negotiating position, because Weeden can then compare his salary to other starting quarterbacks instead of his peers in the late first round.

Tennessee's Kendall Wright is the last remaining pick from this logjam between 20 and 25. He can now reasonably ask for at least the $900,000 that Weeden got, if not more. The Titans, like the Browns, are in a weakened negotiating position, but not due to their own actions.

Kenny Britt's arrest means the team will likely need Wright to start the season opener, if not longer. Look for the Titans to cave and Wright to get to camp on time.