The Sale of Browns to Jimmy Haslam III – What Does this Mean? – Part Two
Continuing our discussion about the new Browns owner – Jimmy Haslam III, we will look at some possible changes in the front office, as well as off the field aspects of the team.
Replacing current members of the front office – There has been speculation that Haslam will hire Joe Banner (previously with the Philadelphia Eagles) as the next president/CEO of the Cleveland Browns. This would, for all intents and purposes, lead to the end of Mike Holmgren’s reign – which has been unsuccessful for the most part. The next question would be whether Banner decides to retain Heckert and/or Shurmur, both of whom worked with Banner in the Eagles organization. I would imagine the duo would get a longer leash than Holmgren should Haslam bring on Banner; of course that is not a given. Should the new president want to start over and hire “his guys” (or if he didn’t feel Heckert and Shurmur are the right fit) the Browns would see a complete overhaul of their current front office.
My take – Of the three men in leadership positions of the Browns, I am a huge supporter of Tom Heckert. Should changes be made in the organization, I hope the general manager is retained regardless of who the coach and president are. I believe in his philosophies in free agency, the draft, and his plan on building a sustained winner. He has turned over the roster and now has one of the youngest teams in the NFL; to remove him in the middle of his process would be extremely disappointing. That being said, if after a few years the wins are not showing up then the blame has to go on the man who is evaluating and selecting talent for the team.
Possible Changes in the Team/Fans:
Players – Based on the retention of Tom Heckert, the Browns roster could see many new players in the coming years. With a new possible man heading free agency and the draft, the Browns would have a different philosophy, which trickles down to available players to select from. Would free agency be more prevalent? Can fans expect the team to trade up for highly touted player while forgoing assets? Along these lines, should a new coach enter, he could possibly implement a new system both offensively and defensively. Would the 4-3 defense and the west coast offense be abandoned? If so, he would prefer players who fit his schemes better. There are obviously many variables, but the new ownership can lead to a new-look roster rather quickly.
Stadium – Looking at potential changes off the field, there could be alterations with the stadium and many things that encompass it. Will ticket prices/concessions increase dramatically? Will the naming rights be sold and will it no longer be called Cleveland Browns Stadium? Will they add a roof to the stadium? What other changes can fans expect? Some supporters have been on the airwaves have even been clamoring for cheerleaders, which is obviously not important, but a possibility.
My take – I feel we may not see a huge roster turnover in the next few years for a couple of reasons. I believe Haslam will let this current class play itself out; the fact many players are still young will give them more opportunity to prove themselves. A few years down the road, however, it will be interesting to see how those in charge deal with the expiring rookie contracts. Will they spend the big bucks and re-invest in their stars, or should fans expect to see replacements? (Obviously performance will be a good indicator of this, even though we should expect a case-by-case analysis).
I’ve been proud to say I’m a fan of a team who hasn’t sold out in terms of the stadium’s naming rights (going back to the Cleveland Municipal Stadium); I feel this will likely change in the coming seasons however. Money is there to be made despite the possible backlash from Browns fans. As far as prices go, I envision a spike both with inflation and the fact that the Browns have one of the cheapest tickets in the league. Randy Lerner was kind to the long-suffering fans; I do not see Haslem being as gracious. Should the Browns finally get on track and start to win consistently, the die-hards will still come to see a very good product, even if it costs a little bit more.