When team president Mike Holmgren says the Browns will "stay the course" he means don't expect the roster to change dramatically in free agency.
General manager Tom Heckert says the Browns won't "go crazy" in the marketplace.
True to his word, while some free agents were being signed for staggering sums, the Browns' only prize the first two days of free agency was defensive end Frostee Rucker from the Bengals.
Rucker, a third-round draft pick from USC by the Bengals in 2006, played 16 games for the first time in 2011. Rucker will challenge Jayme Mitchell for the starting job at right end. Last year the Browns re-signed Mitchell for two years, but he had a disappointing season and midway through 2011 lost his starting job to Emanuel Stephens. Mitchell got his job back when Stephens went on injured reserve with a torn pectoral.
Mitchell played in 14 games with 13 starts and made 32 tackles with 1.5 sacks last season.
Rucker has played in 53 games with 19 starts. He had 108 career tackles with seven sacks.
Heckert said the Browns would be conservative before the start of free agency in 2010 and 2011. They definitely did not make any headline grabbing moves those years, so there is no reason to suspect Heckert is being coy now.
"I go back to my old rule: there's always a reason these guys are available," Heckert said. "There's some reason the team doesn't want him. They didn't franchise him, they didn't sign him. Whatever that reason is, there's something there."
The Browns were even quieter in free agency last year. They signed running back Brandon Jackson, who missed the entire season with a toe injury, and safety Usama Young. Young suffered a hamstring injury in training camp and could not beat out Mike Adams (a free agent this year who left for Denver) and didn't become a starter until a foot injury forced T.J. Ward to miss the last eight games.
The Browns' most pressing needs are on offense at wide receiver, right tackle and running back - the latter because Peyton Hillis left through free agency to sign with the Chiefs.
The offensive line is an area the Browns could target in free agency, particularly since they released Pashos on Tuesday. Geoff Schwartz, a guard/tackle from the Panthers, started five games at right tackle and 11 at right guard in 2010. He missed all of 2011 with a hip injury suffered in training camp. He is a prospect the Browns might consider if they believe his injury has healed.
Drafting a tackle means training him. Heckert likes the idea of signing a young lineman with four or five years in the league who has already learned to play in the NFL.