Another losing season is in the books and the Cleveland Browns are once again turning their attention to offseason matters. Surely, general manager Tom Heckert surely has his plan of attack on how he will approach free agency and the draft.
He won't be sharing that with you or me anytime soon. And don't call him Shirley.
The same goes for the convictions of team president Mike Holmgren and head coach Pat Shurmur. Until players are cut, free agents are signed and college players drafted, no one will know what exactly the Browns will try to do to bolster this team.
We can only guess.
A friend of mine is a talented college and pro personnel evaluator and someone who follows the Browns closely. I received an email from this friend a few weeks ago. The topic was what he would do if he were in charge of the Browns' offseason. He said I could share his plans with theOBR audience as long as he remains anonymous. For purposes here, we will refer to him as Mike Lowery after a character in his favorite movie of all time, "Bad Boys" and his second favorite movie, "Bad Boys II."
Here is what his plan would be if he was running the Cleveland Browns.
First, here are Lowery's goals for 2012:
1. Find improvement and playmakers at wide receiver.
2. Increase overall team speed, as the Browns have perennially been one of the slowest teams in the NFL. Playmaker aren't slow.
3. Fix the right side of the offensive line.
4. Increase the team's pass rushing ability.
Can't argue there. The Browns defense played admirable in 2011. The problem was while they were holding serve, the Browns offense failed to score points, as the offensive averaged 13.6 points per game. That's not going to get it done. Just as Heckert said a few weeks ago, the Browns need playmakers.
Next up, Lowery would address the free agents on the Browns' current roster by resigning middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson and defensive end Marcus Benard.
"Benard is an established backup that can provide some pressure on the quarterback," he said.
It would be tough to see Jackson walk. After overcoming pectoral muscle tears in recent seasons and playing out of position (inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme), Jackson was moved to middle linebacker in Dick Jauron's 4-3 scheme and thrived. Jackson finished with 158 tackles (116 solo) and 3.5 sacks. He was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
Now, onto free agency.
First, Lowery would sign a running back, who is a big, physical player and a versatile starter.
"I would either resign Hillis or sign Michael Bush," he said. "I know he was injured a bunch this year, but he is a big power back who is versatile and has proven he can be productive here. (Bush) would be a great complement to a small, fast running back and would cost less than Hillis or Matt Forte."
Other options Lowery named were Chicago's Matt Forte and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch.
"Forte would be a perfect fit, but he would cost a ton," Lowery said. "Lynch is a head case and he has been around a while, but he is still putting up numbers and could be a good candidate to be in a multi-horse stable."
Next, he would sign the aforementioned playmaking wide receiver. His first target would be Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
"His speed and playmaking ability gives the Browns a deep threat," Lowery said. "He is someone who can turn short West Coast passes into big plays."
Other options at wide receiver, with Lowery's comments in parentheses:
Vincent Jackson, San Diego (Probably won't leave San Diego and he will cost a ton, but he is a deep threat with huge size.)
Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City (Good size and ability.)
Marques Colston, New Orleans (He would bring plenty of talent, but he is fragile.)
Steve Johnson, Buffalo (He has been productive on a bad Buffalo team.)
Robert Meachem, New Orleans (He would provide that deep threat, but he has been inconsistent.)
Pierre Garçon, Indianapolis (He provided big plays in Indianapolis, and he would be cheaper, but he is not the big-time guy that is required.)
Eddie Royal, Denver (He had huge seasons in Denver, but he has fallen off the map. He is worth a shot if he comes cheap.)
Third, Lowery would target a pass-rushing defensive end that would fit the 4-3 scheme like Detroit's Cliff Avril, who is 6-foot-3, 260 pounds and only 25 years old.
"Jayme Mitchell just isn't cutting it," Lowery said. "(Houston's) Mario William's is another option, but it just is not going to happen. Hey, we can dream."
Finally, Lowery would address the Browns' offensive line with one of the following linemen, with Lowery's comments in parentheses :
Levi Brown, Arizona (He has struggled on the left side in Arizona, but he may be a less expensive option to be a run-game mauler at right guard or right tackle.)
Ben Grubbs, Baltimore (Highly doubtful the Ravens let him go and the Browns would spend big money at another guard position, but he would be a huge upgrade.)
Carl Nicks, New Orleans (See: Grubbs, Ben.)
Stacy Andrews, New York Giants (Injury prone and he has a huge price tag, but this guy is huge and he could be a big improvement at right tackle.)
Jared Gaither, San Diego (He is a mammoth player who has had a resurgence at the end of the season. He would be a stud at right tackle if motivated.)
Max Starks, Pittsburgh (Not a great left tackle in Pittsburgh, but he could be a less expensive upgrade at right tackle.)
Trai Essex, Pittsburgh (He could be a heap right guard upgrade.)
Before we move onto the draft, here are a few more "wish list" players from Lowery that the Browns are unlikely to obtain, but fun to picture in orange and brown.
Paul Soliai, Miami (He's a huge defensive tackle that could help out in the run game, provide depth and keep blockers off D'Qwell Jackson.)
Finally, here is what Lowery would do as the point man in the Browns' War Room on draft weekend:
"Floyd is another wide receiver upgrade and a big target."
Second Round — David Wilson, running back, Virginia Tech
Third Round – Ryan Broyles, wide receiver, Oklahoma
"He's simply too good to pass up if his ACL injury causes him to fall this far," Lowery said. "If he is gone a free safety, corner back or depth along either the offensive or defensive line would be good here."
Well, there you go. That is Lowery's plan of attack. What do you think fellow armchair GMs?