As recently as the combine, Browns’ General Manager John Dorsey has noted that the plan isn’t to settle for small windows and instead look at the big picture. In his press conference in Indianapolis, Dorsey noted:
“Everybody feels good, but really what have we done? We’ve won seven games. That’s still not a winning record in my eyes. We want to be competitive in the AFC North year in and year out and we’re going to do that.
“So now what we have to do is we’re almost done — our plan — so let’s see if we can stay true and stay consistent with that plan as we go into the start of the league year.”
Dorsey made reference to “The Plan” there, but he doesn’t allude to the time frame. Many Browns fans have noted the positive vibes around the franchise following the turnaround from zero wins to seven. The Browns have a quarterback who has proven to be quality going into just the second year of his rookie contract. Baker Mayfield’s display of ahead-of-schedule abilities has led to a vibe that the Browns will attack an off-season with around $70 million dollars available with aggression in free-agency.
However, that might not be the case as we head into free agency’s legal tampering period today.
“I don’t think we’re a team yet to ‘go for it,’” Dorsey said. “We have a young, talented team. Let’s build a foundation here. Let’s build a team of substance, okay? But we’re not done yet in terms of getting this thing right.
“I’m not going to go out and go waste a whole bunch of money, because I have to think three and four years down the road. I just can’t think for the immediate future as well. I’ve got to think three or four years.
Dorsey learned his lesson
If you recall, John Dorsey’s tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs ended in large part due to salary cap management issues. From the outside, it appeared the Chiefs spent too much money on those who were undeserving, and his timing on some extensions led to long-term ramifications on the cap.
With the likes of Paul DePodesta around, the Browns and Dorsey will try to curve that issue this time around.
The team has finally filled its roster with quality young players who can be a part of the long-term structure in Cleveland. With that sort of drafting success, the team will have to pay to keep them on those second contracts. Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku, Joe Schobert, Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, J.C. Tretter, and Damarious Randall will all be up for extensions in the next few years.
Dorsey has stressed on several occasions that the organization wants to make this plan work long-term and locking the franchise into several expensive free-agents won’t serve them well when their young names come into the situation for that next contract.
Still expect to see some spending
Although the Browns front office has noted on several occasions that they will not be the ultimate aggressors, the Browns will pursue help in several key areas. Just don’t expect them to pony up for the likes of Trey Flowers.
The Browns will attack the defensive line, particularly the interior, but the big names won’t be found there. Instead expect them to pursue the likes of Henry Anderson, Darius Philon, or Rodney Gunter. All have displayed the sort of rotational ability the Browns sorely lacked when Ogunjobi led the league in snaps at his position.
However, the Browns could be playing the hidden agenda game. Dorsey could be using the media misdirection. We will know quickly.
If the Browns want to spend some cash, they will pursue two key names: wide receiver Tyrell Williams, and linebacker Jordan Hicks. Help is needed in both of those departments and if Dorsey is aiming to improve both positions instantly, expect those names to come up quickly.
Regardless of how much money is spent, the Browns will set out to improve depth at areas lacking severely in 2018. The goal has to be to raise the bar and keep away from reaching for positions come April’s draft. It should be an exciting week in Berea.