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Category Archives: Free Agency

Free Agency Recap and Draft Preview

Free Agency Recap and Draft Preview

March’s Happening and Looking Forward to April

The Browns made several moves to enhance their roster for 2019 and beyond.  In doing so, the fans and media (local and national) are noticing – some are even stating the team has most talented skilled positions in the league.  Is it hyperbole?  Possibly, but I’ll take these guys over any group.  That said, let’s review a few things from March and what that means for April for the Cleveland Browns.

Group One:

It was somewhat of a busy month for John Dorsey and the Cleveland Browns.  At this point, we are all aware they jettisoned a pair of 2019 draft picks (first and third round), Jabril Peppers, and Kevin Zeitler for Odell Beckham Junior and Olivier Vernon.  These two players fit in category one – full-time starters.  I expect both to be on the field a majority of the time, only coming off the field in certain situations.  I expect both to acclimate quickly to this franchise and locker room (looking at OBJ’s instagram account, it appears he is eager and excited to be on the club).

As a result, the Browns will not make either of these positions a priority in April’s draft.  They could take a flier on a guy in the middle to later rounds, but fans should obviously not anticipate a splash pick at wide out or defense end with their first or second selections.

Group Two:

The Browns fortified the interior of their defensive line by nabbing tackle Sheldon Richardson.  The former first round pick had a tremendous first few seasons with the Jets (averaging 5.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 14.5 hits on the quarterback) before his production dipped in Seattle and Minnesota.  Always a fan for reclamation projects, Dorsey found a guy who could pair well with Larry Ogunjobi in the middle.  I put Richardson in the second category – part-time starter.  He will likely be on the field for the first two downs, and situations will dictate what the team does on third down.  Sheldon will still likely be there in short yards to gain, while passing downs will include multiple pass rushers for the Browns.

This move does not take defensive tackle out of the equation for a early selection (that includes a guy like Jeffrey Simmons – who is a talented DT, but tore his ACL while training for the draft and will likely miss the 2019 campaign).  What the Richardson signing does is fills a gaping hole alongside Ogunjobi and pushes down Trevon Coley further down the depth chart.

Group Three:

The departure of Zeitler allows second year guard Austin Corbett to step into the starting role at right guard.  Searching for reinforcements, the Browns acquired Eric Kush and Kendall Lamm this past month.  Both coming from the Bears; Kush is primarily a guard while Lamm has been at the tackle spot.  Meanwhile Adarius Taylor is now a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns, after the Buccaneers let him walk.  Finally Demetrius Harris was signed before the team released Darren Fells at tight end.  These players are the third group:  reserve role/emergency starter.  These are depth signings and I applaud them, but there are more important moves coming.

I think the priority for offensive line and tight end has diminished a bit with these signings.  The Browns could still get a guy in rounds three through seven, but I don’t see either spot being filled at the forty-ninth choice.  I prefer to see the team select either a safety or linebacker with their first choice, as both spots need depth seeing Jamie Collins and Jabril Peppers leave this franchise.

Conclusion:  Exciting times are a coming for northeast Ohio and the professional football team.  Some might want to realize they have not accomplished anything of significance on the field – but the expectations are high nonetheless.  In some aspects I feel the Browns are following the Ohio State model – good offseason, talented players, and fans expecting to win every game.  I am waiting for the type of vitriol from other fan bases that accompanies the scarlet and gray (but that with comes with consistent winning).

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Posted by on March 31, 2019 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, Offseason, Players

 

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In the Playoff Hunt?

In the Playoff Hunt?

Latest from the Cleveland Browns

Despite being less than a month away from the Scouting Combine and just over a month the free agency, the Cleveland Browns found their way back in the NFL news yesterday.  Additionally, a major apparent injury occurred for a likely first round draft choice this week – which could cause a minor shakeup in the middle portion of day one in this draft.  Away we go, let’s dive into these topics.

Kareem’s Dream

After being released for an assault to a woman in a Cleveland hotel last year, running back Kareem Hunt has been looking for an opportunity to re-join the NFL.  Along comes John Dorsey who originally drafted Hunt in Kansas City in 2017.  Since that time, the back has accrued 2,151 rushing yards and 833 receiving yards with 25 total touchdowns.  Looking at his on-the-field production, this seems like a no-brainer.  However, there is obviously more to the story.

Kareem’s history of awful decisions off the field really puts the Browns in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.  Dorsey has been lauded for multiple shrewd moves, but many are asking whether getting Hunt is worth the risk.  First and foremost, he will be suspended multiple games in 2019 (thus raising the question of what will he do with his free time).  Secondly, will Hunt’s behavior rub off on other players?  The hope is that Christian Kirksey, Baker Mayfield, and Jarvis Landry can reign him in and get him on the same page as the rest of the locker room.  Finally, he’s on a zero tolerance policy with the team – one slip-up and the Browns are ready to move on.  I’ve gotten tired of this several years ago with Josh Gordon; I understand it’s a different person and a different situation but having that hang over a franchise’s head could be detrimental.

For the positives:  The Browns could end up with a great player who could excel for many years.  This will be Hunt’s third season in this league (provided he plays) so his productivity might last for quite some time.  Dorsey did not give up any assets for the running back as well.  If Hunt takes another misstep or is suspended for a lengthly time, then the Browns are not out a tremendous amount of assets.

Personally, I don’t think this move will work out and I would not have signed the former Toledo running back.  I would love to be proven wrong, but after missing time I don’t envision a scenario where Kareem joins the team and is the reason why they enter and go deep into the playoffs.  I fully understand those fans willing to forget about his past but also get why some will never root for Hunt.  This is a tough spot for the Browns.

Simmons Hurt

Defensive tackle prospect Jeffrey Simmons succumbed to an apparent ACL tear earlier this week while preparing for the NFL Draft.  His position was one the Browns were looking to upgrade and Simmons would have likely been a target in the first round.  Now, Simmons’ position is up in the air and the Browns have one fewer option at number seventeen.  I would be ok with the team still taking Simmons later in the draft (and prepare him for the 2020 season), but would like to see them secure two athletes before that decision.

Conclusion:  The Browns made a bold move on Monday and it can either be another gem or a waste of time.  I’m not a big fan but I’ll give John Dorsey the benefit of the doubt.  Meanwhile, Jeffrey Simmons will more than likely not be chosen by the Browns in the first round.  I’m not sure who they get instead but have high hopes.

 

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Signings and Trades, Heading Towards the Draft

Signings and Trades, Heading Towards the Draft

Latest from Berea:  What the Browns are Doing

The NFL offseason is in full swing, as free agency kicked off last week.  Guys are signing with new teams and franchises and swapping picks in the NFL Draft.  Let’s review a few things that pertain to the orange and brown.

More Acquisitions

Following the four trades that occurred last weekend, the Browns signed seven (you read that right) free agents.  Some are expected to be starters, while other will simply provide depth and experience on the roster.  Looking at the seven guys, Chris Smith, Terrance Mitchell, and Donald Stephenson are not going to make headlines during contests – perhaps they can overachieve here though.  Darren Fells will be doing the dirty work along the offensive line; the blocking tight end might help the unit move past the Joe Thomas era.  The Browns will more than likely be tipping their hand when he is in games versus David Njoku, but it won’t matter if the offense can perform (regardless of who is in there).

As of now, T.J. Carrie, Chris Hubbard, and Carlos Hyde are slated as game one starters for the Cleveland Browns.  Obviously things can change following the draft, but I see all three as solid selections for the team.  Carrie and Hyde appear to be upgrades from their predecessors and improvement is vital for this franchise.  Hubbard will likely be the starting right tackle, pushing Shon Coleman to take over on the left side.  There will definitely be a drop-off from the past eleven seasons at that position, but you can bet that the players, coaching staff, and management will try to minimize it.

Big Trade Early

The New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts traded picks yesterday; in surrendering three second round picks in the future, the Jets moved up to secure the number three selection.  It goes without saying that this type of move signals a choice for a quarterback early in the draft.  To reset, the Browns are likely to take a quarterback with the first overall selection and now the Jets are all but guaranteed to do the same thing two spots later.  That leaves all eyes on the New York Giants with the second pick – they could take Saquon Barkley (the top running back), the second quarterback of the draft, or trade back with a handful of teams who will likely take a signal caller.

Regardless of what occurs, the Browns will be in a pretty good position with the fourth selection (provided they do not trade away the choice).  I am tired of seeing the team forgo talent in order to get future draft picks, which don’t always pan out.  Therefore, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Denzel Ward, and Bradley Chubb are my early three frontrunners for the Browns’ second draft selection.  The only trade down that I could get behind is one for a spot or two – where they can still have the aforementioned trio to choose from.  I would be hesitant to trade the fourth pick to the Bills.  I understand the value of multiple draft picks but I agree with John Dorsey’s assessment that the team needs “real football players”.

Conclusion:  The excitement for the 2018 Cleveland Browns continues to increase as they are completely overhauling a roster that went winless a season ago.  Also, the trade for the third pick makes puts the Browns’ choices more in the spotlight.

 

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Here Come the Moves!

Here Come the Moves!

Browns are Active in Free Agency

In an eventful Friday evening, the Cleveland Browns made a trio of trades to bring in some talented veteran football players.  Granted, these cannot be made official until the league year begins next Wednesday – but many fans of the organization appear to be excited.  I completely understand this line of thinking for two reasons:  the Browns are getting guys under contract (not simply castoffs) who are still young enough to be productive for many years, and they are the franchise being aggressive and acquiring talent as opposed to letting their own free agents walk.  Let’s look at the three moves.

Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver

What has been the knock on the Cleveland Browns for the last handful of seasons (if not longer)?  The have been ranked at the bottom or close to that, in terms of the wide receivers’ output.  Trading only a fourth and a seventh round draft selection for a productive veteran appears to be a shrewd move, but going the veteran wide receiver route has underwhelmed in the past.  I believe Landry has a better head on his shoulders than Dwayne Bowe and Kenny Britt – so I think the Browns were the winner in this trade.  That said, upon hearing the news I was excited but noted that he needs someone good to throw to him.

Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback

Not much longer after the Landry deal was announced, the Browns gave up their third round draft selection to acquire a playoff signal caller from last season.  In a bit of a surprising move, the team has their bridge quarterback – and in that a guy who has one of the lowest turnover rates at that position over the past two seasons.  This was a huge detriment to the 2017 offense, who frequently gave the ball to the other team (especially in the red zone).  Personally, I am ok with this move – Taylor is not my favorite option as a veteran signal caller but the team could do a lot worse than him.  The only concern is that Taylor might be a different style of player than the guy they draft.  This begs the question, will there be issues with the rookie’s development?

Demarious Randall – Cornerback

The final move of the day left the Browns with a new starting cornerback in exchange for DeShone Kizer and swapping positions in the fourth and fifth round selections.  I hate to see the team give up so quickly on Kizer, but I have to believe John Dorsey knows what he’s doing.  They have already upgraded at that position and will fortify it furthermore in the draft.  Back to the trade – Randall should be familiar to Browns’ fans as he blanketed Josh Gordon last season.  He’s not a lockdown cornerback but at the very least he fills the void left by Joe Haden (who was released last season).  I expect another secondary member to be added to the franchise, but it will be interesting when (in what round of the draft) and whether it’s a safety or cornerback.  I am in full support of this move and hope Randall is a cornerstone of Gregg William’s defense for years to come.

Conclusion:  The Browns got better by a handful of transactions.  I know they have nowhere to go but up from last year, but if this is any indication of John Dorsey – I expect a solid draft.  Next week could further this excitement or be anti-climactic, but this was still a great start for the 2018 Cleveland Browns.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in Free Agency, NFL Draft, NFL Season, Players

 

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What’s the Latest from Berea?

What’s the Latest from Berea?

Pre-Combine News and Notes: Cleveland Browns

In just over a week, the Browns will be sending representatives to Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.  That is a crucial part of the NFL season for two reasons.  Outside of the obvious that front offices can get up close looks at potential new members of their clubs, recent history has shown that this has been an outlet for trade and free agency discussion amongst franchises.  However, before that begins let’s look back at what has gone down for the Cleveland football team.

McCloughan on Board

The former General Manager of the Redskins, Scot McCloughan has joined up with the Browns in a consulting role for the upcoming league year.  It’s been reported that the executive has shared his feelings regarding some possible quarterbacks for the Browns.  First, is that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback – but not a great, franchise signal caller (you can win championships with).  Secondly, McCloughan has made mention that he is supportive of the former University of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.  Granted, the former Redskin will be employed in a part-time advisory role, but one would have to believe his thoughts and beliefs will have to be considered strongly.  Personally, I would be ok with either – assuming the Browns secure both a veteran and a top-end rookie, they should vastly improve that position.

A.J. is Unrestricted

In an unusual set of circumstances, Bengals’ quarterback (for the time being) has been granted unrestricted free agency with the team who drafted him, following a grievance hearing.  I’ve always envisioned him with the dreaded label “game manager”, but it would appear that he might get his shot to be a full-time starter in 2018.  After nearly trading for McCarron last fall, the Browns might take another shot to secure the athlete.  The big difference between 2017 and 2018 is that the team has replaced Sashi Brown with John Dorsey (and Eliot Wolf and Alonzso Highsmith).  One would have to believe that the influx of football knowledge would overrule Hue Jackson if they did not share the same feelings towards the signal caller.  McCarron wouldn’t be my first choice as a Browns’ quarterback but the team could do worse.

Canton/Cleveland Draft?

It was recently announced that Canton and Cleveland (in a joint weekend) is a possible destination for either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft.  I would be happy that the local economy would see another spike over a couple of days, as well as northeast Ohio being the center of the professional football world.  I might even attend some part of the event – provided they win the right to host.  There are other worthy candidates like Kansas City and Denver (to name a few).  Either way, I will be watching from somewhere and hope the Browns pick last in the first round instead of first.

Conclusion:  In the first slow period after the Super Bowl, the Browns will receive bits of information regarding potential new  members of the 2018 squad.  First, Scot McCloughan will put in his two cents about the team’s direction going forward.  It will be very interesting to see how it aligns with the rest of the front office.  Also, A.J. McCarron will be on the market next month, with no compensation required to sign him.  Will signing him be a sound decision, or was Hue Jackson (and company) panicking last year when they nearly traded for the Bengals’ backup quarterback?

 

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Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

Offseason Moves Edition: Cleveland Browns

What is Going on in Browns’ Town

In the week in between the rookie minicamp practices and the veteran group practices, there were some noteworthy events that occurred for the Cleveland Browns.  The first was an unfortunate injury that happened to a recently signed draft selection, followed by a veteran signing shortly thereafter.  After that was a needed break by the franchise that has not been common for this franchise.

Howard Wilson Injury

It was difficult and unfortunate to see rookie Howard Wilson suffer an injury (especially a non-contact one) so early in the campaign.  Similarly to what happened to Kyrie Irving two seasons ago, Wilson fractured his knee cap – this occurred during the rookie minicamp practices.  The NBA star was out several months following his surgery (in 2015).  It is still not set in stone as to
how he will rehab this injury, though.  Personally, provided Wilson is healthy, I would like to see him participate and gain valuable
experience in 2017.  With the recent news that he will not necessarily need surgery, he could still see a fair amount of action on the Browns’ roster this campaign. .

Jason McCourty Signing

Did the re-signing of Jamie Collins open the floodgates for future veterans to latch on to the Cleveland Browns?  I would not got that far just yet (however some in the media are already declaring this), but acquiring a solid veteran in Jason McCourty was a wise move by Sashi Brown and company.  McCourty will provide another veteran for a thin (in terms of experience) position group – especially following the injury to Howard Wilson.  I do not anticipate the former Tennessee Titan to light the league on fire during his time with the Browns; but he should be competent enough to eliminate the possibility that teams can play catch up-and-down the field against the secondary of the orange and brown.

Update on Caleb Brantley

Caleb Brantley was back in the news earlier this week – it was not negative this time around.  The rookie sixth-round selection entered the draft with battery charges towards a woman during an altercation in a bar.  Those charges were recently dropped, allowing the rookie to perform on the field without the dark cloud hanging over his head.  Assuming he can outperform his lowered expectations (as he fell mightily in the draft) – the Browns will have gotten tremendous value from the former Florida Gator.  I hoping that he is truly 100% innocent and did not escape his charge due to technicality, but there is a great chance that I and many others will never know.

Conclusion:  Following the unlucky injury news, the Browns received a pair of two positive stories regarding their roster.  My optimism in the 2017 season is slowly rising, but there is a long time between now and week one of the regular season.  I am particularly intrigued to see how different training camp is from 2016 one – as result from the infusion of talent.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Free Agency, Offseason, Players

 

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On the the Next Phase: QB Talk

On the the Next Phase: QB Talk

Time to Move on

The Cleveland Browns need a franchise quarterback on their roster (I understand that this is a grossly obvious statement).  Having said that, there is no inconceivable reason as to why they should pick up an underachieving free agent signal caller.  Sashi Brown and company must focus on the draft instead of finding a guy who will not do anything of substance on the field.  Let’s review what I’m referring to.

Jimmy Garrappolo Situation

It appears that a trade scenario is dead – rumors of the Browns offering a reasonable pair of second round draft picks and being
turned away was all I needed to hear.  Giving up any more than that is insane and an awful decision for the Browns to surrender top choices for such a big question mark.  For that reason, the Browns (and more importantly the media) should look for answers in other directions.

Colin Kaepernick and Baggage

First, there is the kneeling during the national anthem last season – and the response that many NFL fans have given the quarterback.  However, the reason why I do not want Colin on this team is that he is not a viable professional quarterback.  Colin’s better days are behind him, and he appeared to be a quarterback on a team that caught lightning in a bottle.  The 49ers ran a zone read offense and were the benefactors of others not having a tremendous amount of film on the quarterback.  The same cannot be said in 2017 – thus the Browns must stay away.

Noise about Geno

Fortunately, Geno Smith is not signing a contact to come here and play football.  Like Kaepernick, Smith cannot play the position in the NFL and therefore will not be needed in Berea, Ohio.  I understand reporters want to write stories about what they are hearing – but picking up a known failure in the league is just a silly decision.

Draft and Two Routes

That leaves us with the 2017 NFL Draft – the Browns can go one of two ways.  The first is to secure a quarterback in the first or second round (and tab them as their franchise quarterback), or they could choose a guy in the middle rounds to develop into a viable option down the road.  For the first option, I am going back and forth between Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson.  Via the developmental route – Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes are two athletes who I would feel comfortable with.  I hope Sashi and company know the correct path and select the right guy.

Conclusion:  I am done hearing about the Cleveland Browns scouring the free agency market for guys to come in and be members of this team. Frankly, that market has dried up and the backup in New England is not
coming here.

The franchise’s fortunes should be clearer the weekend of April 27th through the 29th.  I cannot tell you who the front office will choose – but the best signal caller would be ideal.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Free Agency, NFL Draft

 

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