BEREA,Ohio--Sashi Brown has heard the rumblings and mumblings--that the Browns are giving up on the 2016 season to bolster their chances for the future.
Brown answered a variety of questions as the NFL regular season kickoffs for the Browns on Sunday, among them whether he agrees with the opinions by many that the Browns have given up on this season, but building for 2017 and beyond. In recent weeks, the Browns have released veteran Paul Kruger, traded former Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee and traded former first-round picks Barkevious Mingo and Justin Gilbert. Currently the Browns have added three extra draft picks in 2017 and three in 2018 in recent weeks.
"The external noise, we know it's coming and will be there, whether we're successful or not and we can't let that bother us," Brown said Friday. "I think anybody that knows Hue (Jackson), myself, (Chief strategy officer) Paul (DePodesta), (Owner) Jimmy (Haslam) or anybody of us in the building knows that wouldn't be part of anything that we would embrace or be a part of.
"I appreciate the people that haven't seen a strategy quite like this before, but I would hardly call it 'tanking,'"he said. "So I think our guys are going to go out and compete and we'll let the external voices be what they are."
The Browns 2016 is made up nearly of one-third rookies with 17 and nine other new additions from last year's team.
Brown said the team is trying to win now, but it looking at the future.
"We're looking at 2016," he said. "For us, it's about finding that nucleus of young talent that we can bring in. we had to take and take a step back and make some hard decisions on where our roster was coming off a 3-13 season. we don't expect the guys to play like rookies, they will at different times, but we expect them to perform their duties that they're asked of by their coaches."
The Browns roster is about 50 percent turned over from last season, but Brown said that wasn't by design.
"We didn't go into with a purpose that we have to get to this place with respect to age or number of picks or number of rookies on the roster," Brown said. "We really went in to try to make the best decisions we could. We started with a plan and executed it, so I'm pleased where we ended up, but we didn't go int with a predetermined notion of where we would be in September."