The Cleveland Browns have been mired in mediocrity for the past, man I’ve lost count. The last time the Browns made the playoffs Anakin Skywalker was fighting in The Clone Wars. However, it can all come to a halt this year.
The NFL has begun their offseason in terms of franchise tagging, releasing of bad players and salaries but it’s the free agent period where the Browns can make their move.
The Cleveland Browns play in what many consider the toughest division in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and Cincinnati Bengals have all been to the playoffs in the last two seasons while the Browns have been their doormat. It’s not the coaching that has set the teams apart, it’s been the decision-making that has widened the gap between the four rivals.
What this offseason offers is the chance for the Browns to make the biggest statement in franchise history. I’ve heard counter arguments that they have taken risks by drafting Johnny Manziel, signing RG3 and one has gone as far back as mentioning Davone Bess. Well, here’s the thing about those players. Neither one of them has the talent that a Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Kirk Cousins or an Adrian Peterson has. Bess and RG3 were prayers, Peterson and Romo are gambles.
I’m not saying that the 2017 Browns need to become the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles with their Dream Team lineup however, they can learn from the mistakes Andy Reid made and make adjustments. It’s not as if the Browns are hurting for talent. Hell, they managed to turn a QB into a 1000 yard receiver and at one point Isaiah Crowell was leading the NFL in rushing before defenses adapted and realize Terrelle Pryor was the only offensive threat at wideout. When defenses began to stack the line of scrimmage it took away the RBs lane and the QBs vision.
With the free agents that are available this year, the Browns are in prime position to change the dynamic of their team. I’m not talking just one or two players here. I’m speaking in terms of $100M+ in cap space. This is a homeless person winning the lottery and having the cash to do whatever he wants.
Pryor wants to stay, so pay him. DeSean Jackson is free, he’s proven what he can do and let’s not forget about Alshon Jeffery and Kenny Britt. Imagine a receiver core of Pryor, Jackson, and Britt. Dangerous. Each player brings a different dimension to the passing attack. Are the Browns sold on Crowell? If not, then Peterson is ready to show the league that chip on his shoulder for the Minnesota Vikings turning their back on him. However, the biggest question mark is QB.
Is Cody Kessler the guy or do they go after Romo or make a trade for Cousins? The draft has a stable of young arms ready but the Browns must be careful with who they choose. The QB is the director of the offense and if you choose Deshaun Watson then you are telling your receivers they will do more blocking than pass catching. If they go with Mitch Trubisky then the offensive line must be addressed as far as pass protection. But, the Cleveland Browns has the means to address their areas of concerns. This is what losing gets you. It puts you in a position that one day you will have the resources to change the fortune of your franchise.
The key for the Browns is to mix new with old. The 2017 Draft will give the Browns a ton of options to enhance their lineup with four picks in the first 52 selections, including the No.1 overall and 12th pick in the first round. There are many ways they can approach this in terms of talent. QB is the main weapon Browns fans are asking for but, depending what happens during the free agency period they may not need to go this route. The ideal situation would be for the Browns to think offense during free agency and defense in the draft.
The Browns need a pass rusher. A dominant DE to get to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. Myles Garrett of Texas A&M would be a logical choice at No.1, then with the 12th pick, they could also go defensive with CB Marlon Humphrey from Alabama. The defense is one of the worst in the league and with the likes of Antonio Brown and A.J. Green running slant routes, the Browns must be able to contain them.
At some point, enough has to be enough. It’s ok to want to build a team but how long does it take? Standing still may get the Browns to a 3-13 record if they continue to mimic the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. But, those teams are the ones that also takes the risks. Not the risk that takes 2-3 years for results but the kind that can push them to the Super Bowl. This is what the Browns must do. Take their cards and bet the house on either red or black. To be honest, what do they have to lose? It can get worse than 1-15 by only one game. So, why not show your fans and your players that you’re tired of being considered irrelevant and actually wish to be considered part of the NFL.
The Cleveland Browns have the money, the draft pics but, do they have the balls to get the deals done is the $100M question?