The season of smoke with little fire is upon us, a time when we question Andrew Luck’s status as the sure-fire first overall pick after a year of calling him the best quarterback prospect of this generation. It’s great fun, but once we get into late April and the final days before the draft, it’ll also become nauseating.

Instead of participating in this game that for even the elite quarterbacks always involves some dim lighting and a tiny dart board, one team tried to pursue a quarterback that’s played and excelled (albeit briefly) at the professional level.

The team is the Browns, and the quarterback was Sam Bradford.

When the Rams were shopping the second overall pick their two main suitors were Washington and Cleveland. Before they settled on Washington, there were widespread rumors that Bradford, the first overall pick in 2010, was part of the discussions. Tony Grossi has now confirmed those rumors, even if Rams head coach Jeff Fisher still won’t name any names.

From Grossi, who spoke to Fisher at the owners meetings:

The Browns asked the Rams about trading for quarterback Sam Bradford before turning their attention to Robert Griffin III, sources said at NFL meetings this week.

The Rams said no.

“His name came up, not from us,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday morning. “Clubs inquired. But there was no consideration whatsoever on our part (to trade Bradford).”

Fisher would not confirm the Browns were one of the teams.

“I prefer not to get into specifics about the conversations. I can say there were teams that inquired,” Fisher said.

The connection and strong desire by the Browns’ management makes sense. Head coach Pat Shurmur was St. Louis’ offensive coordinator during Bradford’s 2010 season when he threw for 3,512 yards, set a record for the most completions by a rookie (354), and he was named the offensive rookie of the year.

That familiarity along with the quick, intermediate routes of Shurmur’s west coast system would have fit well with Bradford’s skillset since he’s a volume passer, and a QB who’s more successful when he’s established a rhythm.

Now the Browns have settled for Colt McCoy, and both young quarterbacks will move forward with equally young receivers, and the support of either an injury prone (Montario Hardesty) or aging (Steven Jackson) running back.

And now you want to know the rest of the story…

  • The owners voted 29-0 in support of the $36 million salary cap penalty imposed on the Cowboys and the $10 million on the Redskins, and now silence is descending on Washington regarding the warped punishment for spending money in an uncapped year. [CSN Washington]
  • At the owners meetings this morning breakfast was served for the NFC coaches with a side helping of questions from reporters. Andy Reid was asked the inevitable question about his defense, and the Eagles head coach said that he “goofed” when he failed to equip his team with players suited to play the wide nine. [Jeff McLane on twitter]
  • Reid also said that the Eagles aren’t looking at Plaxico Burress. [Also from McLane]
  • Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said that when he was Tennessee’s defensive coordinator he used a reward system for major plays, but not a bounty system. Examples he gave of the rewards were gifts like boxing gloves and painted baseball bats. [Detroit Free Press]
  • Although I fully understand the polarizing effect of Tim Tebow’s strong religious beliefs, what’s often baffling is when the audience at home doesn’t realize that he talks about his religion so often because he’s asked about it so often. He doesn’t duck those questions, but he doesn’t preach either. He just believes, and he is in many ways a careful, conservative evangelical, which sounds like an awful oxymoron. [New York Times]
  • During the Peyton Manning chase Mike Shanahan hosted the former Colt at his home in Denver. [Mark Maske]
  • The behind-the-scenes story of Manning’s free agency is compelling and rich. [Peter King]
  • Former Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien is the lead plaintiff among 126 retired players in a class-action lawsuit suing the NFL and seeking compensation for head trauma. [Washington Post]
  • Greg Cosel thinks that Ryan Tannehill is a better and more accurate passer than both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III when he’s on the run. [NFL Films]
  • The Bears should trade Matt Forte. [Bear Gogges On]
  • If Coby Fleener falls into the second round, the Seahawks are making a lot of sense. [Seahawks Draft Blog]
  • Packers wide receiver Tom Crabtree had a message for the world before he hit the hay last night, saying that he has an “exclusive” picture he’s going to pass along in the morning. We’re still waiting and bracing ourselves, because the last time an NFL player said words like that we saw Darnell Dockett in the shower wearing only a scrub brush thingy. [Tom Crabtree on Twitter]