We'll start with the fluff and get it out of the way, then we'll get to the goods…………….
With needs throughout the roster, the Cleveland Browns entered the free agent player signing period in a position to improve the quality and depth at key positions. Nearly a week into free agency, the Browns have made a couple waves, and not the splash the team truly needs.
Rucker, a run-stopper was signed for the obvious. Parker, more of a situational pass rushing type at this point of his career provides experience, stability and an ability to rush the quarterback.
Both players offer a skill-set which should improve the defense of the Browns.
While the defense gains talent, one of the worst offensive teams in the game continue to fall short in adding talent to play at a competitive level.
It's not to say re-tooling the roster in free agency is method most beneficial for a team such as the Browns, but the lack of securing a play-maker or two will continue to keep the down-ridden Browns hoping their tides turn.
General manager Tom Heckert stated prior to the signing period that the Browns would likely not be a player in the frenzied market.
He wasn't kidding.
The Browns went about business as planned, as their attention was focused on re-signing their own free agents, as well as looking to solidify the left defensive end position.
Throughout the 2011 season the Browns run defense struggled. Play at left defensive end was sieve like, with veteran Jayme Mitchell manning the position. Mitchell's play was poor, which ultimately led to his benching and ultimate release within the past week.
The re-signing of middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was an important move. Securing offensive guard John Greco provides depth and versatility along the line, as does the multi-year deal agreed upon by defensive back Dimitri Patterson.
Lost in free agency was starting offensive right tackle Tony Pashos, starting left guard Eric Steinbach (injured) and starting defensive back Mike Adams. The loss of Adams could be immediately felt due to his versatility, while Pashos and Steinbach battled injuries for the better part of the year.
- The Browns determined the QB position in free agency is not worth the price and gamble. The thought process is, Colt McCoy can provide the team what those in free agency can and the potential to develop and improve McCoy's game remains.
When the Browns attack the QB position, it will be in the draft. Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler are the likely targets, and the Browns anticipate coming out of the draft with one of these prospects.
The Browns have talked to everyone each of the players has crossed paths with in college. From former teammates to coaches, the Browns have had significant discussions on each player as well as viewing nearly every clip of film available.
An underdog in the hunt may be Kirk Cousins. The Browns spent plenty of time watching the QB at the Senior Bowl and Combine event in Indianapolis.
- When the free agent player signing period commenced, the Browns had interest in the group of available RB's. Quickly, the Browns backed off when demands coming from the agents for the available RB's came to light. The 2012 free agent player signing period is loaded with over-priced veterans; the Browns are smart in waiting out the market.
In the draft, the Browns will be in position to make a huge splash at RB. Behind Trent Richardson, the depth at RB coming from the college level is as strong as it has been in years.
As the Browns consider Richardson with the fourth overall selection in the draft, the organization can easily wait until the 22nd overall selection and obtain a RB that project well to the NFL.
- As securing a WR in free agency has been a wash-out, the Browns remain interested in obtaining an experienced talent. The Browns have spent time evaluating Mark Clayton, but have yet to offer the WR a contract.
If the WR position remains excessively valued, the Browns are expected to offer a one-year deal to a veteran, with serious bonus opportunities.
The draft is where the Browns have the greatest opportunity to improve their marginal receiving corps.
Blackmon, Floyd and Hill are likely first round draft choices, while Broyles could be a late draft selection of value due to his coming off knee surgery.
From what we have heard, the Browns have Blackmon and Floyd rated similarly, with Hill a step behind.
- The Browns have not closed the door on obtaining a right tackle in free agency. Anthony Collins and Geoff Schwartz are on the Browns radar, but the Browns as they have been since the start of the free agent player signing period have been distant in displaying their interest.
Quick Notes of Interest
- The Browns are not expected to select an offensive lineman with the 4th pick in the draft.
- The Browns are not expected to select a QB with the 4th pick in the draft.
- The Browns have noted the value of the 4th pick to them as an organization and we have heard the Browns are open to dealing the pick.
- The Browns were rebuffed in their efforts to secure the 1st pick in the draft from the Indianapolis Colts.
- The Browns are looking at OLB's in free agency and the draft to fill the spot presently held by veteran Scott Fujita. The Browns call it improving the depth at the position, which could use some speed and quickness.
- The Browns interest in OLB Manny Lawson in free agency isn't as strong as some in the media may portrait it. As has been the Browns course, they have displayed interest from a distance in a handful of players.
- The Browns are seriously considering 28 year old Brandon Weeden with the 37th overall selection in the draft.
- The Browns are content for the time being with Colt McCoy starting the season under center.
- The Browns are expected to select an interior offensive in the draft to develop. Some of which is due to improving depth, but also as an opportunity to secure a lineman in the event RG Shawn Lauvao doesn't improve with his inconsistency issues.
- QB Robert Griffin III is extremely happy the Redskins and not the Browns moved up to the 2nd spot to grab him in the draft.
- WR Justin Blackmon, I have been told doesn't want to play in Cleveland, because "they suck."
- RB Trent Richardson just wants to be draft and play some football.
- QB Ryan Tannehill hopes to be drafted and coached to utilize his athletic ability to its fullest.
This fly will be dropping in on you again soon!