That was the decision facing Browns General Manager Phil Savage as he searched for a linebacker who could rush the quarterback.
He liked Arrington's raw physical ability. In 2002-2003, he had 17 sacks and seemed on the verge of stardom, then came injuries and some problems with coaches.
As the Browns looked at Arrington's numbers from last year, something really stood out: zero sacks in 11 games. He had 47 tackles, which wasn't all that special. In 2004, he played only four games (18 tackles, 0 sacks) because of a knee injury.
There was something else the Browns will never concede that they considered. Arrington is represented by the infamous Poston brothers -- the agents for Kellen Winslow Jr. Is it worth a protracted contract fight over a guy with injury and attitude baggage?
Yes, Arrington is only 27, but it has been 15 games and more than two years since his last sack with the Washington Redskins.
Compare that with McGinest, who arrived in Berea wanting to play for his old defensive coach, Romeo Crennel. McGinest had four sacks in the playoffs with the New England Patriots, six in the regular season.
Why did New England let him go?
Because McGinest is 34, was in line for an $8 million bonus that would count against the Patriots' salary cap. New England was surprised when the Browns gave McGinest a three-year, $12 million deal -- the key being $6 million guaranteed.
The Browns had another agenda.
McGinest had more sacks than any member of the Browns' 2005 team. He is in great shape, is an outstanding leader and understands Crennel's 3-4 defense.
He also can train a young linebacker, whom the Browns hope to find in the draft.
Arrington had none of that in his favor.
Savage said a key to signing some of the free agents was Crennel. The veteran coach has enormous respect from opposing players. ``He has a trusting presence and is almost a father or big brother figure to a lot of these guys,'' Savage said. ``Romeo was our key recruiter.'' Washington and McGinest played for him in New England, and wanted to work for Crennel again. This is a stark contract to the Butch Davis Era, where some players were leery of coming to the Browns.
03-20-2006 08:08 AM
I like Willie, and I'm upset he isn't a Patriots anymore.
That said, the Reggie White-effect is overplayed. McGinest is a good player, but he isn't in that kind of class in terms of the effect he can have on a franchise. That article was overly-dramatic, to the point of whimsy.