Well this is awkward. Pretty quiet out there. Nobody wants to say it? Ok, I will:
The Browns’ execution of this free agency period has been ‘disappointing.’
Browns currently sit with the most or second most cap space of any team; just as they started the FA season. Their cap space –left to Banner/Lombardi by Heckert– provided a rare opportunity to maneuver and acquire the TOP free agents. At worst, one would think, short contracts could be used to exhaust this year’s cap room without handcuffing future years.
But here we are with $15MM remaining available to spend this on FAs this year, but all the best FAs are gone. The opportunity, the advantage, has been squandered.
This is the GM equivalent taking three timeouts into the locker room at half time.
No cornerbacks signed. One of the two big players signed plays the strongest position on the team and joins Rubin, Taylor, Hughes, Winn, Kitchen on the preeminent of defensive tackle corps in the league. No free safety. No guard. An efficient tight end who played for Chud. A speedy edge linebacker about whom Banner was quick to say: Jabaal Sheard will play the new guy’s position. Both key signings were made to address the needs of a ‘new defensive system’ put in place for reasons that can only be called arrogant; the change surely was not borne out of a sober evaluation of the talent on the current roster.
1. Signed a good OLB;
2. Signed a DT to add to the three excellent ones on the roster;
3. Signed a fast OLB who used to play for Horton and will not start;
4. Signed a cheap TE who used to play for Chud, and;
5. Did not sign a CB, though 22 were signed.
Now comes the uncomfortable part where hope keeps triumphing over experience. The part where we sit on our hands in the face of compelling evidence that we may just have a new set of idiots in Berea. We’ll couch the concerns with qualifiers.
‘I hope I’m wrong but, …’
‘Have to assume they know more than we do …’
‘No one wants to be wrong about this more than I …’
‘I hope they make me eat my words …’
It’s so tiring. May I stipulate that all of the above apply to all of my Browns criticisms and move on?
Anywayses.. we’ve done this dance so many times.
Here’s hoping something happens before the draft that helps us understand the plan for the $15MM of payroll Banner has chosen to save.
FA priority #1, top notch, big, physical, starting CB: UNMET.
The big news yesterday was Brent Grimes visiting and leaving. Fans are pretty excited.
Fans are pretty excited about a 30-year-old 5’10” CB coming off a blown Achilles. This is somewhat understandable because the other CB we’ve been linked to is Captain Munnerlyn (5’8″).
Buster Skrine but with a cooler or less cool or equally cool name. ‘Good nickel back.’ Munnerlyn and Grimes will fit right in with Joe Haden (5’10”) and Buster Skrine (5’9″).
Am I the only one who has been watching this smurfed-out defensive backfield for the last twenty years? Am I the only one who knew what Pete Carroll has proven: it’s good to have taller CBs?
We talk so much about wanting an ‘intimidating character’ on defense. But: short guys aren’t intimidating.
Check it out: Haden, 5-10; S. Brown, 5-10; E. Wright, 5-11; McDonald, 5-11; LEIGH BODDEN, 6-1*; Daven Holly 5-10; McCutcheon, 5-10; ANTHONY HENRY, 6-1**; Fuller 5-10; Ryan McNeil, 6-2***.
You have to go back to 94-95 and you find a pairing of two six footers: Don Griffin and Antonio Langham.
How much did we save?
Here’s a list of random 6’0″ and above CBs:
- Derek Cox, Chargers: 4yrs/20MM/10.2 guaranteed // average: 5MM
- Cary Williams, Eagles: 3/17/5.75g // 2013, 2.4MM; 2014, 6.4MM; 2015, 8.2MM.
- Keenan Lewis, Saints: 5/26 // 2013, 2.2MM (unknown full terms, hometown discount because Lewis is from New Orleans.)
- Aqib Talib, Pats: 1 year/ 5MM.
- Sean Smith, Chiefs: 3/16.5/7.5 guaranteed // 2013, 7.4; 2014, 7.95; 2015, 2.25.
- Antoine Cason, Cardinals: 1/1.5.
The contract here that jumps out for me is Sean Smith’s. It gets the cap hit out of the way up front. Given the Browns cap space this year (and probably next), this way of structuring a CB would have been sensible.
Banner/Lombardi, so I read, assigned their own value to free agents and adhered to it. Are they smarter than the market? If they are, then that self-satisfaction will require a smooth Balvenie-rocks to provide comfort when AJ Green (6’4″) is pulling down fade routes in our end zone next autumn.
But the net people, is this: any one of those tall CBs above could be condo-shopping adjacent to the Map Room today and if they were, the Browns would still be ~95% of the mean player salary among NFL teams.
This was not smart or prudent shepherding of finite resources
This leaves us hoping a good CB will be available at #6 in the draft.
This was that epitome of Browns management style that transcends ownerships eras and GM regimes: that unique mix of arrogance and stupidity.
*Browns go 10-6.
**Good enough to start 41 games for the Cowboys after the Browns cut him.
***Made probowl for Chargers two years after Browns released him.