Free Agency Recap
Well, there were multiple changes to this roster that occurred over the past few weeks. Some veterans were not expected to be back, and that was indeed the case. Meanwhile, the team signed a couple of athletes with experience as well. Are they a better team now than they were to end the 2014 campaign? Time will tell, but let’s review what occurred for the team.
Offensively there were two impactful guys who departed for other franchises. Those were quarterback Brian Hoyer and tight end Jordan Cameron. The former was far from a surprise, and his play late in 2014 all but guaranteed that the Browns were not going to re-sign him. I wish him all the best in Houston, but have my doubts about his future success. The Cameron thing was a little perturbing, with him signing then not re-signing. However, the team is moving on from the veteran with an injury history. I would have liked him back, but now they must get a stalwart via the draft as his replacement.
On the defensive side, the Browns lost three prominent figures via free agency. These athletes are Ahtyba Rubin, Jabaal Sheard, and Buster Skrine. Inexplicably, both Rubin and Sheard’s production had declined significantly over the past few seasons. I am glad they were here and hold no ill will, but I believe Ray Farmer can find solid members who can pickup right where these guys left off. I really felt Skrine was coming into his own as a nickel cornerback, but his price tag appeared to be too high for the Browns. I would love to see Justin Gilbert play up to his capabilities and have Trammond Williams fill in at the nickel spot.
It was a pair of signal callers and two wide outs who were signed by the Cleveland Browns. Josh McCown and Thaddeus Lewis were brought in to compete for a role with this franchise going forward. I still don’t know if they are going to draft another guy early or not, so I’m holding off my negative slant (at the quarterback position) for the time being. Brian Hartline and Dwayne Bowe are now members of the orange and brown. I think they can be reliable number two and three options for the offense, and if the team can get a DeVante Parker or Jalen Strong in the first round of the draft – I would really like this improved passing offense.
To supplement this defense, the Browns added Randy Starks and Tramon Williams last week. Both are a little older than the guys they are replacing, but I believe they can still be viable rotational guys. I anticipate at least a defensive lineman to be added by the second round of draft, and maybe a guy in the secondary a few rounds later. Overall, neither areas took a big hit – the scouts must make sure they can make solid improvements in areas where losses occurred.
Conclusion: While the Browns did not get a whole lot better during the free agency period, I am not freaking out the way many fans have. The team got solid veterans at reasonable prices, and lost members who the front office did not feel were “franchise players”. Though we may not know if these decisions are correct or not for a few years – I have a hunch that this part of the NFL season will not make or break this franchise. It will all come down to (finally) getting that little thing called a franchise quarterback.