Browns GM Kokinis refuses to address rampant trade speculation

BEREA, Ohio -- For 35 minutes, Cleveland Browns general manager George Kokinis stood behind a podium and discussed the upcoming NFL draft, trade rumors, injuries and the team's future.

He talked a lot.

He divulged little.

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Perhaps concerned about tipping his hand before his first draft as a GM, Kokinis was guarded during just his second news conference with local media members. He opened his remarks by saying he wouldn't address speculation about trades or roster decisions.

"Internal business is not something I'm going to discuss," Kokinis said. "It's just not the right thing to do."

Kokinis kept his word. And then some.

The former Baltimore Ravens director of pro personnel stiff-armed the first question, which centered on reported deals involving wide receiver Braylon Edwards and quarterback Brady Quinn.

"It's internal business," Kokinis said. "We'll look at every option."

Kokinis didn't break any news on the Browns' draft intentions. They have the No. 5 overall pick, two selections in the second round and one each in the fourth and sixth.

Kokinis did reveal that running back Jamal Lewis had offseason ankle surgery and suggested that quarterback Derek Anderson had a procedure done on his left knee.

Kokinis was almost defiant about the incessant trade talk. He didn't dignify any of the reports, but he didn't deny them either.

Edwards has been mentioned in a possible deal with the New York Giants, who are looking to fill a major hole in their offense after releasing troubled wide receiver Plaxico Burress. According to several reports, the Browns have discussed sending Edwards to New York in exchange for second- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft and Giants wide receiver Steve Smith.

The Giants, the reports say, want to keep Smith but have offered wide receiver Domenik Hixon along with the picks.

Edwards, perhaps the most talented player on Cleveland's roster, has always wanted to play in a major market, and New York would suit his personality and desire to be a star outside of football. He had 55 receptions and three touchdowns last season, a dramatic drop from the 80 catches and 16 TDs that he had as a Pro Bowler in 2007. Edwards also was plagued by dropped passes in 2008.

At roughly the same time Kokinis was playing word games with reporters, Giants GM Jerry Reese was shooting down the Edwards-to-New York rhetoric.

"I'm not talking about Braylon," Reese said. "That's somebody else's player. He's under contract, so I'm not talking about that. There's a lot of chatter. A lot of false reports."

As for Quinn, who has spent most of his pro career on the bench, there has been renewed talk about the Browns' interest in seeing what they can command for the former Notre Dame star. Before Jay Cutler was traded by the Denver Broncos to the Chicago Bears, he had been linked to a deal involving Quinn.

Kokinis, who was hired by the Browns after they brought in coach Eric Mangini, was asked if the team had tried to acquire Cutler.

"Uh, did we try to obtain Jay Cutler?" Kokinis said. "Jay Cutler is with the Bears."

Pressed on Cleveland's cluttered quarterback situation, Kokinis said the plan remains to have Quinn compete with Derek Anderson for the starting job.

"Nothing has changed on our roster in terms of those two guys," Kokinis said. "They'll come in here and compete. They both can contribute. They both have skill. They both have qualities that we like. I think competition throughout this whole team is vital."

Later, Kokinis said that Lewis underwent a "clean out" procedure on his ankle during the offseason. Lewis rushed for 1,002 yards last season, and Kokinis believes the soon-to-be 30-year-old is still a productive every-down back.

"I think he's still got tread there," Kokinis said. "You can't count that man out."

Soon after, Kokinis was asked about whether Anderson, who lost his starting job to Quinn midway through last season, had undergone offseason surgery. Anderson missed the final four games with a strained knee ligament.

"Derek is 100 percent," Kokinis said, avoiding the direct question. "He's been working out. I think Derek is going to come in determined to compete. He's 100 percent."

Kokinis was again asked if Anderson required surgery.

"Again, injuries and surgeries and stuff, I gave you Jamal," he said.

Before concluding, Kokinis was asked why he couldn't address Anderson's status.

"Well, I just chose not to," Kokinis said.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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