Tom Heckert would argue that he’s been active in free agency this year. Namely, he would say he has been active in keeping key Browns players from leaving Berea via free agency.
“Trust me, I completely understand the fans are saying, ‘Why aren’t we going out and signing all of these free agents?’” Heckert said. “But when you talk about D’Qwell Jackson, Joe Thomas, Chris Gocong, Ahtyba Rubin … I mean, we’ve signed some really good players. You look around the league, and some guys are losing these kinds of players.
“So we feel very, very confident that, instead of going out and spending money on other players that we don’t know about, we spend money on our own players that we think are great. And, obviously, the players we’ve signed have performed very well for us. That’s kind of been our goal — to keep our own guys and not go out and get everybody else’s castoffs.”
Heckert makes some points as the Browns have kept D’Qwell Jackson, Dimitri Patterson, Joe Thomas, Ahtyba Rubin and Chris Gocong, not to mention tight end Evan Moore. At the same time, unless these players help the team make a jump from year one to year two in the Browns’ system under Pat Shurmur, it is a leap of faith for fans. It is difficult to assume the draft will help the team rack up more than the four wins they won a year ago, especially considering that the Browns play what most consider to be a tougher schedule.
According to Heckert it isn’t for a lack of trying.
“It wasn’t like we didn’t try to help ourselves on offense,” he said. “We did, and it just didn’t work out. But if we missed out on somebody we really targeted, we weren’t just going to sign somebody just to sign somebody.”
When plan A doesn’t work out, you move along to plan B. In this case, plan B is the NFL draft. Even with a lot of picks and chances to help the team, the pressure is on.