Browns, CB Joe Haden agree to five-year deal

With all of his former teammates already signed to rookie contracts, Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden finally agreed to a five-year, $50 million max deal with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.

The No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, he will receive a $12 million signing bonus in 2010 and $26 million guaranteed on his deal, according to Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com.

“Joe is excited,” Haden’s agent, Malik Shareef, told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “We’d like to thank the Browns for all their hard work on this.’ The Browns would like to have him on the field for the evening session, so hopefully we’ll get it signed and get him out there by then. I know Joe is ready to go.”

Haden’s contract was signed after the Browns’ first day of training camp Saturday, making him the only former Gators player to officially holdout. All are now under contract and ready to compete in their first NFL seasons.

OGGOA will continue updating this – and all of our Florida rookie contract stories – as further salary information is released.

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

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Maurkice Pouncey inks rookie deal with Steelers

One of two former Florida Gators selected in the 2010 NFL Draft yet to sign with their team, center/guard Maurkice Pouncey agreed to a five-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday.

Pouncey, the No. 18 overall pick in the draft and 2009 Rimington Trophy winner, will earn $17.96 million over the life of his deal including $10.35 million in guaranteed money.

He is expected to start at right guard for the Steelers in 2010 before being transitioned to center in the future.

Pouncey joins fellow former Gators offensive lineman, left tackle Max Starks, on the team and helped Pittsburgh continue a streak of not having a rookie holdout since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2004.

“Football is important to him,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of Pouncey to the Associated Press. “This is a guy who’s committed to winning but doing what it takes to be a winner. He’s always been associated with winning, and we like those kind of guys and putting them into the mix.”

Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden, the draft’s No. 7 overall pick, is the only remaining Florida rookie yet to sign a professional contract.

OGGOA will update this story if further contract information is revealed.

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SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

1 » On June 24, three-star linebacker recruit Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) committed to the Florida Gators; unfortunately for him, the team did not recognize his verbal promise and did not count him as a member of its 2011 recruiting class. Friday, Cassell reiterated again to the Orlando Sentinel that he is committed to the Gators, stating that coaches simply wanted to see him perform in person before bringing him on board. However, there remain conflicting reports that Cassell is still not a part of the recruiting class – yet. So while his intentions are known, Florida’s are not. In all likelihood, the coaching staff is waiting to make sure they have a spot for him after higher ranked players decide where they will be attending school next year.

UPDATE: Cassell, for the third time now, claims that the coaches have accepted his commitment. He told the Sentinel that a phone call set for Sunday night may help clarify why there have been so many mixed messages.

2 » Legendary Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway has been supportive of former Florida QB Tim Tebow ever since his team selected him with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. At a golf tournament on Thursday, Elway opened up more about Tebow. “The thing about Tebow is they’re focusing too much on his release,” Elway said. “As long as he can get it in a timely manner, I think he has plenty of arm there. […] He’s not going to change his release. He may get better. Obviously, by throwing you get more accurate and more accurate and you may shorten it up as time goes on but if it’s long and quick, that’s OK.”

Four more BITS on Tim Tebow, Channing Crowder, Joe Haden, Jabar Gaffney…and an extra BIT on recruit Curt Maggitt…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Cassell, Elway, Tebow, Crowder, Haden

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TWO BITS: Haden slipping? Amateurs qualify.

1 » NFL.com senior analyst Michael Lombardi reports that former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden of the Cleveland Browns has “not been very impressive in camps and might not have enough speed to play corner” in the NFL, according to a number of coaches he spoke with. “Maybe all that talk about some in the organization wanting to pick Kyle Wilson, and some favoring Haden are true,” Lombardi concludes. Haden is being counted on by the Browns, who picked him early in the first round, to contribute right away as a rookie.

Speaking of Haden, there is an interesting piece about A.J. Machado, a South Florida jeweler who makes custom pieces for athletes, in the Sun-Sentinel that mentions the player sporting one of his pieces. “I want to see what they’re wearing, and if we did it how my watch worn by Joe Haden looks on TV,” Machado told the paper. “And if they’re not wearing me, why not? Hey, I’m not jealous, I got 14 first-rounders this year.”

2 » Florida sophomore golfers Isabelle Lendl and Mia Piccio qualified for the 2010 United States Women’s Amateur Championship on Monday after each finished in a top-five spot in their respective qualification matches. Lendl finished her sectional in second place at two-over par, while Piccio came in fourth in her event at one-over par. The championship will take place at the Charlotte Country Club in Charlotte, NC, from August 9-15. The last time a Gators golfer won the event was in 1984.

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

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TWO BITS: Haden ready to sign, Nelson helps

1 » Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants to get paid, but he refuses to hold out through the start of training camp. According to Haden and his agent, Malik Shareef, the former Florida Gators star will be practicing with Cleveland right way. “We’ve been in contact with the Browns and expect to begin negotiating next week,” Shareef told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “Our main objective is to get Joe in camp on time so he can perform to the best of his abilities. A holdout would not be in anyone’s best interests.” Picked No. 7 overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, Haden points out that he could not agree now even if he wanted to. “I can’t sign yet,” he said via Twitter. “[Cleveland] hasn’t even sent an offer. It goes in order of [where you are picked].”

Other former Gators still awaiting NFL contracts include: Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper and New England Patriots linebackers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes.

2 » One former Florida player who is already under contract is Buffalo Bills WR David Nelson, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent back in April. Nelson, who is making strides with Buffalo and may impact the team as soon as the 2010 season, participated in a Christmas in July celebration at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Wednesday. “I have a favorite ornament that my grandma made me,” Nelson said. “She made one for all her grandkids. It’s a small figurine of me when I was about 6 years old. The figurine was how she viewed us. Mine has me with curly hair and holding a football. Making ornaments today with all the kids at the hospital was so much fun and really reminded me of my grandma making her ornaments by hand.”

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FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

1 » On Oct. 29, 2010, one day before the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs square-off in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, FL, four former student-athletes will be inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame. Representing the Gators are linebackers Wilber Marshall and Scot Brantley, while LB Knox Culpepper and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski will be honored as former Bulldogs.

2 » A quick blurb from friend of OGGOA, former Florida football player and host of “The Morning Drive” on ESPN Radio in Ocala/Gainesville, FL, Brady Ackerman via his Twitter account Monday evening: “I am hearing that [head coach] Urban [Meyer] has made [the] team accountable for everyone this offseason. In an effort to develop leadership – a mistake hurts everyone. Meyer is trying to develop leaders and accountability with his team this summer. That will be put to test with the arrest of Hammond. The rule is if one guys messes up – everyone pays. Hammond, who is now suspended, is causing the team a little ‘extra’ running this week. I think the message will get home with the team this week and expect the rest of the summer to be quiet from ‘nonsense.’”

Two more BITS on Joe Haden and Maurkice Pouncey…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hall of fame, accountability, NFL

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FOUR BITS: Baseball tops UNF, Wilbekin signs

1 » Tuesday evening was all about freshman first baseman Austin Maddox. Going 4-4 with five RBI and a two-run home run, Maddox powered No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (38-12) to a 9-3 win over the North Florida Ospreys (29-23) at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Maddox’ 17th blast of the season set a new Florida freshman single-season record while also giving him the team lead in homers. Making his first start since having facial surgery, sophomore starter Tommy Toledo (3-1) collected the win in only two innings of work. Tuesday’s victory marked the Gators’ 12th in their last 13 games and fifth in a row. Tied atop the Southeastern Conference standings with South Carolina, Florida travels to Columbia, SC, on Thursday for a three-game series to determine the regular season champion. The Gators must win two of three games as they would otherwise lose the tiebreaker due to their greater number of canceled SEC games due to inclimate weather.

Four more BITS on Wilbekin, Tebow, Haden and Donovan…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball tops UNF, Wilbekin signs

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Browns’ Ryan unhappy with Haden selection?

There was chatter while the Cleveland Browns were on the clock with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft that the front office was heavily debating whether to select former Florida Gators star Joe Haden or Boise State’s Kyle Wilson as (hopefully) the team’s shutdown cornerback of the future.

Recent comments from New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan – the brother of Brown’s defensive coordinator Rob Ryan – indicate that the latter was heavily campaigning for Wilson (who the Jets ended up picking 22 spots later).

“There is somebody that I really know well for a long time that basically said that [Wilson] was their guy and they picked a lot earlier than us,” the Jets coach said at a press conference on Saturday. “You can probably figure it out. That’s who he wanted and then after practice, I’m like ‘Yep. I guarantee you were right because this guy is the real deal.’”

Rex Ryan has already tabbed Wilson as the team’s starting nickelback, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Haden hopes to earn one of the Browns’ two starting jobs.

“I’m just trying to work hard and let [secondary] coach [Jerome] Harrison see my potential,” Haden told the media over the weekend. “I’m just trying to get on the field. Hopefully right now I’m just showing my work ethic and how I love the game to try to get me out there. I’m not thinking I’m a starter. I’m thinking they’re going to put me where they need me to help out with the Browns. Starting definitely would be a good thing. If that’s what they want, then that’s what I’ll do.”

Photo Credit: Cleveland Browns

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