Browns, Headlines

Money or winning: What’s more important for NFL free agents?

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With $108 million in salary cap this offseason, the Cleveland Browns had plenty of money to make a big splash at the start of free agency and improve their team ahead of the NFL Draft at the end of April. Needing to improve (or add) to virtually every position outside of a few, the Browns were tasked with not only spend their league record amount of cap space, but also use it wisely and not just throw money at players just to do so.

The team’s biggest problem with luring free agents to come to the shores of Lake Erie just by offering more money than other teams around the league? Some players prefer winning over money, no matter how much they may lose out on. In a recent interview on NFL Network’s “Up To The Minute,” former Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson, who signed with the Ravens over the Browns, admitted that he chose to sign with Baltimore even though he was offered more money because he values winning over everything else.

Cleveland may have revamped their offensive line by signing center JC Tretter, guard Kevin Zeitler, and wide receiver Kenny Britt (while losing Terrelle Pryor), but their losing ways are still in the minds of many across the league. Their new signees not only trust in the process and believe in head coach Hue Jackson, but also want to be contributor to the team who can help make the Browns become a winning football team once again.1 But then you have players like Jefferson who value winning so much that they do not care how much money they may not be putting in their pocket just to do so, putting the Browns further behind the eight ball.

After finishing with 92 tackles, five passes defended, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in 15 games (14 starts), the fourth-year undrafted safety was rated the 12th-best free agent and second-best safety among other free agents this offseason according to Pro Football Focus. The Browns, who not only could use a playmaker in the defensive backfield but also at the safety position, need a player like Jefferson. In his four seasons in the desert, the Cardinals used the 25-year-old as a strong safety, free safety, and linebacker. His versatility and the fact that he is one of the best at his position is something the Browns tremendously missed out on and would have fit very well with Gregg Williams’ flex-friendly scheme.

Baltimore may be in a bit of a funk lately, but their winning culture, one that includes two Super Bowl victories and multiple AFC Championship Game appearances since leaving Cleveland and becoming a franchise in 1996, speaks for itself. Meanwhile, the Browns seem to be rebuilding since they made their return to the league since 1999. If the Browns want the top free agents year, they will have to start winning and building through the draft in order to prove that they are capable if being a winner consistently.

  1. Yes, there was a time when they won games. Crazy. []

  • JNeids

    Using the Browns high-priced offer to get a winning club to up their ante = best of both worlds.

  • jpftribe

    Don’t blame the guy at all. Browns made this bed……

  • RGB

    The ratbirds signed him for 4y/$36m.
    Do we know how much more the Browns offered him? 4y/$37m? Technically that IS more money.
    Keep the million, I’m going to a winner.
    If NE had offered him 4y/$35m, would he have gone there? Yep.
    So, we need to keep the whole “Browns offered more money, and got turned down because they suck” narrative from getting out of control.
    And, AND, just because we have a mountain of cap-space doesn’t mean the HBT is going to sign, Sign, SIGN!
    Moneyball, folks. Money. Ball.

  • Chris

    How does Paul Ryan find the time to host interviews for NFL Network?

  • mgbode

    Reported rumors were that he accepted significantly less to sign with Baltimore. I’d think it was more than just $1m over four years, but we won’t know unless someone blabs.

  • tigersbrowns2

    i would imagine , if you’re a young guy in your early-to-mid 20’s , it’s all about the money … you gotta make it while you can.

    as you get older , it’s both : you may be on your last contract , so , you’re gonna get the best deal you can … mostly the guys who made a ton of money in their career want to go to a winner , as the money doesn’t mean quite as much.

    and yes , i suppose there are those who are in it strictly for the biggest contract.

  • Garry_Owen

    Can’t believe the Browns just let the guy WALK!

  • Garry_Owen

    Personally, I wish all of those jokers, R and D, had much MORE time on their hands.

  • Hopwin

    The Browns new FO also started a trend last year of screwing veterans by releasing them at the very end of Free Agency, which costs players money. The $$$ in the contract are not the only $$$ to consider, there is also long-term earning potential.

  • scripty

    Dolans woulda got this signing done

  • CBiscuit

    True. But let’s be clear…he is not working for peanuts. I can turn down a 72 oz steak and still manage on a 36 oz (or frankly live with a 20 oz ribeye). The point is I would like a steak now.

  • mgbode

    Interesting that this weekend it was revealed Bautista accepted similar (or less) money to stay with Toronto rather than to jump ship to Cleveland.

  • mgbode

    don’t forget the I too.

    Put them together and you get RID

  • Natedawg86

    Good

  • NankirPhelge

    HAZGRUM IS CHEEP!!!!!

  • Garry_Owen

    But there’s not evidence that this guy can play Center Field. Or baseball, for that matter.

  • Garry_Owen

    Circumstances.

  • Garry_Owen

    That bucket of peanuts before the steak is also nice, though.

  • Garry_Owen

    I do a fair amount of work with legislative matters in various states. The best states are the ones where the legislators work part-time. Stupid $#!t generally does not get passed in those states simply because there is just not enough time for stupid $#!t (though some inevitably leaks through). I’m all for putting the Federal legislators (and executive administrators) on part-time duty. Stop wrecking everything just because you’re bored. Just stop.

  • Hopwin

    Thank God! Bullet-dodged

  • Chris

    Boy, the Dolans and Halsems on completely opposite trajectories over the past two-years or so. Wow!

  • Saggy

    Peanuts? What steakhouse are you going to?

  • Saggy

    thought the same thing!

  • Garry_Owen

    Only the finest.

  • Saggy
  • Saggy

    you must mean the fined. not the finest.

  • Garry_Owen

    Fined-est.

  • Saggy
  • Garry_Owen

    What can I say? Kids. My kids like Texas Roadhouse. Mostly BECAUSE of the peanuts. Which is nice, because they fill up on those things, which means I don’t have to actually buy them “food.”

  • scripty

    link that, last I saw was distinctly otherwise when he signed

  • maxfnmloans

    I remember when the Ground Round said “no more peanut shells on the floor”. That was a sad day in the ol’ Fnmloans house, I tell ya what

  • Garry_Owen

    As sad as when you found out your last name was “Fnmloans?”

    (I remember that Ground Round day, too. By the way, speaking of names, what kind of name is “Ground Round” for an eatery?)

  • mgbode
  • mgbode

    About to say that Texas Roadhouse is popular with my kids for the same reason. Ballparks and Roadhouse are where you can let the peanut shells fly. I won’t let them spit sunflower seeds at Roadhouse though.

  • jpftribe
  • Garry_Owen

    Right. Anything that involves saliva must remain in the mouth (at least when not on the playing field).

  • Saggy

    Was it any better than “The Brown Derby”?

  • Garry_Owen

    No. Worse. Way worse. (Name, anyway.) That’s my point!

  • Believelander

    Speaking of free agents, now that we lost Pryor, can we convert Kaepernick to wide receiver only to have him walk in a year?

  • Believelander

    “Yes, there was a time when they won games. Crazy. [↩]”

    [citation needed] (I am under 40 years of age)

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  • Chris

    “I felt low-balled and disrespected” (paraphrased)
    “I don’t play football for money”

    Independently, those both make sense. Together, they are a bit of a contradiction.

  • Chris

    Bring Manning out of retirement and line him up in the slot.

  • maxfnmloans

    It was the 70’s, everyone was drunk

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