Browns sale to Haslam approved; Holmgren to leave


Browns sale to Haslam approved; Holmgren to leave

CHICAGO (AP) New owners want their own people running things.

Jimmy Haslam III is sticking to one of the oldest adages in sports, which means Mike Holmgren is out as president of the Cleveland Browns.

Haslam's $1 billion purchase of the franchise was unanimously approved by the 32 NFL teams Tuesday. Shortly after the vote, Haslam announced that Holmgren would be leaving, although the Super Bowl-winning coach will remain with the franchise until the end of the year to help in the transition. Former Eagles President Joe Banner will become the chief executive officer on Oct. 25 when the sale is concluded.

``Mike was brought in to be the president and I think in a lot of ways the de facto owner,'' Haslam said at the NFL's fall meeting, ``and with us coming in and taking a more active role, Mike has decided to, effective at the end of the year, leave the Cleveland Browns ...

``Mike will work very closely with us over the next three or four months to ensure that this transition goes as well as possible.''

Haslam plans no other personnel changes before 2013, meaning the jobs of coach Pat Shurmur and his staff and general manager Tom Heckert appear safe for now.

``I told Pat on Saturday night that this was the only personnel move until the end of the season,'' Haslam said. ``But I am not at all saying we'll make changes at the end of the season.''

The Browns were the last team to win a game this year, beating Cincinnati on Sunday after five losses. They are tied with Kansas City for the worst record in the league.

``At the end of the year we'll evaluate everybody in the organization just like we will at the end of every year, whether we win the Super Bowl or we win two games,'' Haslam said. ``That's our philosophy and that's what we'll do.''

Later Tuesday, the NFL confirmed that Minnesota will host Pittsburgh in a second London game next year. The Vikings and Steelers will play at Wembley Stadium on Sept. 29, 2013, four weeks before Jacksonville hosts San Francisco at Wembley.

``This is a unique opportunity,'' Vikings President Mark Wilf said. ``It will give excellent and exceptional exposure for the team.''

The league also announced that Houston, San Francisco and South Florida will bid for the 2016 and `17 Super Bowls.

The 57-year-old Haslam, who built his fortune with Pilot Flying J truck stops, has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and is in the process of divesting that stock.

The Browns have gone 10-28 since Holmgren was hired by Randy Lerner to run football operations in 2010.

``He has been and still is committed to doing everything he can to make the Cleveland Browns a winning football team,'' Haslam said of Holmgren, with whom he spoke at length in the 2 1/2 months since he agreed to purchase the Browns. They met Sunday to work out the logistics of the transition.

``Mike was brought in to do a certain role and I don't think he wanted a different role,'' Haslam said.

Holmgren led the Green Bay Packers to the 1996 NFL championship and lost in the Super Bowl the next year to Denver. He left the Packers in 1999 to become coach and general manager in Seattle. Six years later, the Seahawks won the AFC title - Holmgren had given up much of his personnel duties by then to concentrate on coaching - and fell to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

His time in Cleveland hasn't been nearly as successful. Indeed, Haslam has said his mission is to bring winning football back to Cleveland; the Browns have made the playoffs once since returning to the NFL in 1999.

``I would never stand here and say we need to have X number of wins, but we want to see a positive direction,'' Haslam said. ``I think we want to see continued improvement and we want to see them play hard.''

Banner joined the Eagles in 1994 and was team president when he resigned in June.

``His track record in Philadelphia has been impressive,'' Haslam said. ``Joe is in charge of day-to-day operations of the company. Any big decisions, we will be involved in. Football (operations) will report to Joe.''

The late Al Lerner, Randy's father, purchased the franchise from the NFL in 1998 for $530 million after the original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the Ravens. The elder Lerner died in 2002.

The Browns made the playoffs in 2002 and lost to Pittsburgh in the first round. They've had only two winning records in 13 seasons.

Also at the meetings:

- Owners amended an anti-tampering resolution. Three days before a player becomes a free agent, teams will be permitted to contact the player's agent and begin contract negotiations. But a contract can't be completed until after free agency begins, and no direct contact is allowed with the player before his contract expires - except by his current team.

- South Florida and San Francisco - actually Santa Clara, where the 49ers are building a new stadium - will compete to host the 50th Super Bowl in 2016. The loser of that bid will compete with Houston for the 2017 game.

Some owners have said SunLife Stadium in Miami needs major upgrades before it should be considered for another Super Bowl; Miami has hosted the most NFL title games, 10.

``We understand the Dolphins and South Florida are looking at renovations and they do feel that is a large part of their bid,'' Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

Houston has hosted two Super Bowls, the last in 2004. There was one Super Bowl in the San Francisco Bay Area, at Palo Alto, Calif., in 1985.

``Nothing brings a region together like a Super Bowl,'' 49ers CEO Jed York said.

Asked if he would recuse himself from the appeals process, as the four players punished in the Saints bounty probe have asked, Goodell said he would respond to the letters requesting that ``after these meetings.''


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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings 

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Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?


Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?

The Redskins sure hosted a lot of free agent defensive line visits in the second week of free agency, but so far, no signed contracts. 

Johnathan Hankins came to Ashburn. Sylvester Williams came to Ashburn. Pernell McPhee came to Ashburn. All three left without a done deal, and now for Redskins fans, the question becomes not about when a deal will get done, but if any deals will happen.

Actually, one deal did happen. According to a report, Williams has signed with the Lions. 

Since visiting the Redskins on Monday, Hankins also took a trip to see the Lions. McPhee, who was offered a contract by the Redskins, has since taken a trip to visit the Falcons. 


Keep in mind too, Washington expressed interest in nose tackle Bennie Logan last offseason, and the 6-foot-2, 309 lb., former Chief is again on the market. A visit from Logan would surprise nobody, though it hasn't been reported yet. 

Mother Nature might also be an impediment for the Redskins. A March snowstorm shut the D.C. region down on Wednesday, which could have limited potential free agent visits.

What's clear is between Hankins, McPhee and Williams this week, in addition to Muhammad Wilkerson and Benson Mayowa last week, the Redskins are obviously looking to upgrade their defensive line. Combine that with a contract restructure for incumbent Terrell McClain, and Washington has the flexibility to improve on last season's NFL-worst run defense. 

That doesn't mean, however, the Redskins will absolutely sign one of the above mentioned players. And it doesn't mean outside linebacker Junior Gallete won't return to the Redskins either. 

Many fans wonder if a McPhee signing means the Redskins would move on from Galette. It might, but that's no sure thing. 

Washington went into the 2017 season with five outside linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Galette, Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter. Right now, the 'Skins only have Kerrigan, Smith and Anderson under contract. The team needs to add at least one OLB, but likely two.

McPhee also carries about 20 extra pounds on his frame than Galette, giving the former Bear and Raven more flexibility to play against the run. Galette is a speed, leverage and moves player, focused on getting to the quarterback. He's capable against the run, but in the same way a sports car shouldn't carry a snow plow, Galette should be used to pressure QBs. 

Point being: McPhee and Galette could both make sense for the Redskins, if the team can work out the cash. 

Money usually matters the most in free agency, and it's clear the Redskins haven't made the type of offers that any of these players felt compelled to immediately sign. Deals could still happen though. Hankins didn't sign last offseason until April and Galette seems to thank Redskins fans via social media with relative frequency. 

Washington also had some success with the patient approach to free agency. The team was able to keep Zach Brown, though it took some nervous days of allowing the tackling machine linebacker to test the free agent market. With that win in hand, don't expect the Redskins brass to change their philosophy. 

Until further notice, it's hurry up and wait season in Ashburn.

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