“It looked to me like some people called it quits when we were up,” moaned Browns RB Jamal Lewis of his club’s November 6 capitulation to Denver, an outburst Pro Football Talk quoted an unnamed source as being directed at DL Shaun Smith (“he never shuts the f“k up…and he acts like he has been to 25 Pro Bowls”). The Chronicle Telegram’s Scott Petrak writes of Smith dismississing such talk, insisting “everybody who™s seen the way I play, they know what it is.

œI™m no quitter, Smith said Friday. œMy mom always told me there would be haters in your life, you have to keep movin’.

Smith is the most vocal member of the team and often shouts funny insults at the offensive linemen during stretching before practice. He was perhaps at his loudest Wednesday, hours before the report appeared on the Web site.

He said he didn™t know where the report originated.

œA snitch? Who knows? he said. œI™ve got thick skin, I™m not worried about that. I™ve got a job to do, stop the run and create some pressure in the pass rush.

In light of Patriots QB Matt Cassel’s impressive performance in Thursday’s OT loss to the Jets, the Fanhouse’s Tom Mantzouranis reasonably suggests Matt Leinart’s former USC backup is in line for a major payday in 2009.

Rest assured, if Cassel hits free agency there are going to be a lot of teams interested. The Lions, Jets, 49ers, Vikings, Rams, and Buccaneers will almost assuredly be in the market for a top signal-caller, and there are likely to be a few others that emerge between now and then, as well.

This high demand, paired with a rising salary cap, growing distrust of rookie quarterbacks, lack of other realistic options, and continued disdain for free agent frugality will lead to Cassel getting a deal somewhere in the market of six years and $70 million, with $25 million guaranteed.

I think Cassel will develop into an above-average player, yet will hardly become star material. Still, the he chooses to sign with will have a better team to root for because of his presence. But that won’t stop what I imagine will be numerous complaints that said team “overpaid” for Cassel, even though “overpaying” in an economic system where market values are constantly in flux is a flawed concept, anyway.