Greetham: A Look at the Moves

Part One: Greetham examines Browns offense after their recent moves

Usually, when the calendar hits March, free agency is abuzz around the NFL and the Browns are right in the middle of it.

Rumors of signings and visitors to Berea keep things exciting.

With all the attention currently on the labor dispute, there is not much happening around the NFL. The only area that seems to be full steam ahead right now is the NFL Draft (at least the NFL knows how big a deal that is to fans).

Pat Shurmur said he inherited a good nucleus.

"I was impressed with the foundation," Shurmur said. "I was very impressed with how hard the guys played throughout the season. I was very impressed by some of the players that are still here."

Here's a synopsis of what the Browns have done or haven't done prior to the expiration of the original deadline for the CBA as of March 3:

It is not known who the Browns tendered contracts to. There have been many reports on certain players. When asked for a clarification, the Browns' Vice President of Media Relations Neal Gulkis responded in an e-mail.

"As was the case with several clubs, we did not announce tenders."

Quarterback

One of the first orders of business for the front office was settling on Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback heading into next year.

At Shurmur's introductory press conference, Tom Heckert was asked if McCoy was the guy and he hedged by saying, "We're on the right track."

However, Mike Holmgren came out and endorsed McCoy at the beginning of the NFL Combine and Heckert and Shurmur echoed the same sentiment.

"I'm extremely excited about working with Colt and him being our guy," Shurmur said in Indianapolis.

Heckert agreed.

"We have all the confidence in the world that Colt's going to be good."

Numerous reports said the Browns signed Seneca Wallace to a three-year contract for approximately $9 million. Wallace was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent under the old system and had said he wanted the opportunity to be a starting quarterback.

Wallace was playing well when he sprained his ankle and really never was able to find the field again. After directing the Browns to a 23-20 win over the Bengals, he had the Browns leading 7-6 at the half against the Falcons after an 11-of-15 for 139 yard performance before suffering a high ankle sprain.

"I'm a Seneca fan. He's a West Coast quarterback," Shurmur said at the Combine. "He's done it for a lot of years in this system."

In his career, Wallace has been a very capable back up with 29 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a career rating of 83.9.

Bottom line: Wallace and his representatives must have felt there were not many opportunities for him to go and be the starting quarterback, thus he opted for the three-year, $9 million contract. Since the Browns have had a propensity for having injury-prone quarterbacks, he might feel his best option is staying in Cleveland. He played well in his limited role in 2010 in a new offense. He will be back in the system he ran for seven years in Seattle. Since the Browns have had double digit starters at quarterback since 1999, it is a good idea to have someone capable like Wallace in the fold.

With McCoy the starter and Wallace the backup, it would seem very unlikely that Jake Delhomme would return as the third quarterback. He is scheduled to make $5.4 million and if he did return would have to re-do his contract. Also, Mike Holmgren has said he would like to draft a quarterback to develop. The Browns also have rookie Jarrett Brown on the roster.

Running Back

Shurmur said he feels that Peyton Hillis will fit very nicely into the West Coast offense because of his good hands and his running ability. Montario Hardesty has been rehabbing at Berea and said he played in a West Coast-type offense under Lane Kiffin at Tennessee and is excited about the prospects.

The biggest question is if Lawrence Vickers has been tendered a contract as a restricted free agent. The Browns were asked and their response was that they did not announce tendered contracts.

Bottom line: Hillis and Hardesty are figured to be the one-two punch, but a change of pace back could be brought in via the draft. A big question is whether Vickers returns or not. It is unknown the future of Mike Bell.

Tight End

The Browns tendered Evan Moore at a second-round level. The former undrafted free agent figures to play a prominent role in Shurmur's offense. Ben Watson is coming off the best year of his career and Moore caught 28 passes and led the team with a 17.1 average per catch.

Moore is a big target and by tendering him at the second-round level shows the value the current regime places on him.

Alex Smith is still on the roster and veteran Robert Royal was let go.

Wide Receiver

Chansi Stuckey led the wide receivers with 40 receptions, but the Browns did not place a tender on him so he could become an unrestricted free agent. Heckert said some very complimentary things about Brian Robiskie recently and Mohamed Massaquoi figures to continue to develop. Demetrius Williams was on the team for most of the season, but played very little and Carlton Mitchell is still unproven. Preseason phenom Johnathan Haggerty was on injured reserve all last season and is a possibility.

Bottom line: Many believe the Browns need to significantly upgrade their receiving corps to integrate to the West Coast offense and help McCoy. If they don't use the sixth pick to take a receiver, it would seem likely that they would use one of their next couple picks to secure one with the uncertainty of free agency. Some feel Shurmur will look at some of the receivers he had in St. Louis that are set to become free agents.

Offensive line

The Browns let John St. Clair go and Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack is an unrestricted free agent. The Browns are hoping Womack will come back and are counting on Shawn Lauvao to develop into a starting guard this season.

The Browns are counting on Tony Pashos to step in at right tackle.

"I thought Tony played really, really well before he got hurt," Heckert said.

Former coach Eric Mangini favored St. Clair, who seemed to struggle the whole season. Lauvao looked as though he was going to start the season as a starter, but after suffering an ankle sprain, seemed to fall out of favor.

Steve Vallos was a utility man and Billy Yates started at right guard until he was placed on injured reserve.

Bottom line: The Browns have Pro Bowlers at left tackle and center in Joe Thomas and Alex Mack. Eric Steinbach was near the Pro Bowl at left guard. They need to solidify the right side. The Browns believe that last year's third-round pick, Lauvao can be the right guard and Pashos can be the right tackle.

They will most likely look to add a young lineman in the draft as Womack will be 32 years old, if he does return.


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