Between local sports talk radio, Twitter, newspapers, and blogs, all of the talk in Cleveland has centered around the Browns not doing anything in Free agency (other than the signing of DL Frostee Rucker. They finished as the bridesmaid in the Robert Griffin III sweepstakes and of course the sky seems to be falling. We have watched Wide Receivers such as Marcus Colston, Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Vincent Jackson come off the board. And not the latest came last night as the Browns cut the their former left guard Eric Steinbach and their leading rusher and former one-year owner of the city Peyton Hillis signed a reported one-year, $3 million deal with Kansas City.
Don’t freak out people. Stay the course.
I’m no Browns Kool-Aid drinker. I have been one of the harshest critics of this team and how it’s been run. I haven’t liked the way Mike Holmgren has acted during his almost two years of swooping in and out in Cleveland and making himself available when he wants to be available. I was not a fan of the Pat Shurmur hire, not was I a fan of his coaching and handling of the media during his first season on the job. And of course, I am not down with Randy Lerner.
However, I am in the tank for Tom Heckert, talent evaluator. With the lack of free agent moves happening with other teams, the Browns are sitting idly on the sidelines. They don’t want to spend big money to plug the holes on veterans who will eat up the valuable cap space. That has become obvious by the rhetoric that comes out of Berea (when the media is allowed to actually record it) as well as the picking and choosing of their spots in free agency.
Would I like to see a guy like Eric Winston sign here to stabilize the right tackle position? Of course I would. Would I sign up for Carl Nicks at one of the guard spots? Uh, yeah. But guess what, these things won’t happen. Do you really want to give a guy like Garcon, five years and $42 million the way the Redskins did? Not a chance. He’s a nice player, but he’s also been playing across from Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark while catching passes from Peyton Manning. That will make anyone look good.
The Browns have a ton of holes, there is no doubt about it. But the holes will be filled through the draft, which is Heckert’s specialty. He has shown that this is where he shines. So let us sit back and let him do his work. This was one of the many reasons that I was on record as completely against trading multiple high draft picks for RGIII. The Browns didn’t make the move, and they still have three picks in the top 36 picks. Heckert should, and will come out of this draft with three potential starters from day one.
SIDE NOTE – I beg of you Tom, please, for the love of every thing holy, DO NOT DRAFT RYAN TANNEHILL at #22.
So save your cap room, let Heckert do his thing in the draft, stay away from drafting Tannehill, go into the season with Colt McCoy at QB, surround him with some skilled players you drafted, and take your chances and lumps. Keeping the roster so young could cost you some wins no doubt. If Colt McCoy isn’t the guy, at least you will have given him enough rope to show he can either climb to the top of hang himself. If he proves to be nothing more than a quality backup, odds are the Browns will be right back in the top four again in 2013.
But is this really a bad thing?
Take a look at the opponents for next year. In addition to the six division games against teams that all made the playoffs last year, they will face the rugged NFC East, which includes the Super Bowl Champion Giants (road), the Cowboys (road), Michael Vick and the Eagles (home), and RGIII and the Redskins (home). They also travel to Denver (which may or may not have Peyton Manning at the helm), Oakland, and Indianapolis (which was the lucky recipients of Andrew Luck thanks to their tank of a season). Buffalo, Kansas City, and San Diego visit Cleveland.
Looking at what and who the Browns are, they are not making the playoffs with that schedule (or with any schedule for that matter). The defense is nice, but the starters at RB and QB right now are a Chris Ogbannaya/Montario Hardesty combo along with McCoy. You can bet the Browns will be taking a WR with one of their first three picks. But seriously, to me there is no point in being 6-10. You are all going to call me insane and “not a real fan,” but I am being realistic.
Give me 2-14 or 3-13 and a chance to draft USC QB Matt Barkley in the 2013 draft.
Wouldn’t Barkley to Justin Blackmon in two years get you a little excited? The plan has worked for the Lions. The fruits of their brutal decade stretch of football brought them a franchise QB (Matt Stafford), a franchise-changing defensive lineman (Ndamakong Suh), and one of the best WR’s in the game (Calvin Johnson) among others. Those are three nice pieces to build around, which the hard-charging Lions have done.
If the Browns tank again this season and end up with a shot to take that franchise QB in Barkley, it will be a blessing in disguise. I for one won’t be disappointed. In three years, you will all agree with me if this comes to fruition.