Christmas is a time of giving, spreading cheer with family and friends.
I spread my holiday cheer to the Cleveland Browns and asked Santa to drop a present under the tree for the team.
Watching my children rumble through the house, spewing toys and wrapping paper afar, I wondered where my gift to the Cleveland Browns was.
It was a meaningful gift, one which would provide excitement, maintain health, and would provide each individual in the locker room increased wealth.
Much to my disappointment, the gift wasn't left under the tree.
There were no offensive linemen, no running backs, not a single linebacker or safety.
I wondered, what happened, Santa didn't leave the gift that was as sorely needed as any.
Pondering my thoughts, I quickly came to the conclusion that when it concerns the Browns, it would have to be done the hard way and the Browns might just have to do it themselves.
I wasn't done though, I would keep trying.
As the New Year quickly approaches, many people face new challenges, some make resolutions in hopes of improving health, wealth, or a way of life.
I believe, in the case of the Browns, it would be about a healthy team with increased talent. What better a supplement to a team that shows great confidence and attitude.
With 16 players on the injured reserve list, health is a major question and an obstacle that has stripped the team of its early season success.
For a team with a lack of depth at critical positions, injuries robbed the team of the resources required for winning in the NFL.
So, what better a New Years resolution but to find the means to rectify this situation for the Browns.
With my battle-plan in hand, I dissect the stable of players that will be free agents at the end of the season. I call agents, speak with every source that I know, looking for the answers to make my resolution a reality.
My journey, the quest to improve the Cleveland Browns was pleasant. Left to believe that the respect the team has earned is genuine, players will come, not only because of the lucrative contracts that will be thrown about.
This is what we've been told about the offense of the Cleveland Browns.
The offensive line of the Cleveland Browns has been a sore point since the team returned to the field for the 1999 season. Free agent acquisitions haven't panned out and an unfortunate, ill-advised flag thrown by a referee cost the player the remainder of his playing career.
On the present roster, it appears that once offensive guard, now starting left offensive tackle Ross Verba and center Dave Wohlabaugh are keepers on the line.
Verba has replaced Roman Oben at left tackle and has done an excellent job. Good enough of a job that head coach Butch Davis has stated that Verba is the left tackle of the future for this team.
The future of Oben in Cleveland is as bright as a burnt out light bulb from what we've been told.
"There is no where to play him," a source close to the team said. "Considering the state of the offensive line, that is a pretty large statement. There is no doubt that he will not be in Cleveland in 2002."
"Verba has played very well at left tackle and don't believe for a minute that the Browns won't look into every possibility in regards to upgrading the line."
Not so quick, Butch! We are hearing from league sources that the Browns have an interest in Indianapolis offensive tackle Tarik Glenn.
"Indianapolis will have three players (Tarik Glenn, Steve McKinney, Larry Moore) that are free agents along the offensive line," the source said. "Glenn, McKinney, and Moore are all players familiar with the Browns system now that Bruce Arians (former Indy quarterbacks coach, now Browns offensive coordinator) is running the offense there and one player in particular has expressed the desire to play in Cleveland.
"It wouldn't surprise me if the Colts (Indianapolis) don't put the franchise tag on Glenn, but anything can happen and with the situation there (turmoil, losing, questionable coaching staff and front office) these three linemen could exit."
If the free agents players weren't enough, the Browns draft position improves with each loss and now a player once thought of as out of the question may be obtainable.
Dominant left tackle from the University of Miami, Florida, Bryant McKinnie is at the top of Davis' wish list from what we've been told by a source close to the Miami Hurricanes program.
McKinnie the best offensive lineman in the college game has not allowed a sack in his career at Miami. Such talent and proposed skill would enable the Browns to pencil his name into the left tackle position for the next decade.
Obtaining any of these named players would provide the Browns ample opportunities to improve the line immediately.
The running back position is one of great interest to fans, for the Browns it isn't the immediate necessity that may others believe, that according to a source close to the team.
"Davis believe that he can win with the backs that he has," the source said. "The overall play of the offensive line is the focal point to the non-success the Browns achieve on the ground.
"The belief here (in Cleveland) is that improve the line, the running backs can get the job done and Tim Couch becomes a much better quarterback."
Free agency will be a major factor in the draft plans of the Browns. If the offensive are obtained via free agency, the door is wide open for the Browns come draft day.
"If they (Browns) get two quality linemen in free agency, one a tackle and one a guard, then the Browns have numerous options," a source tells us. "An indicator will be is that if the Browns get these players, then drafting a lineman may not be their direction.
"I could see them looking at a safety in the first round and maybe a running back, someone like T.J. Duckett in the second round, if he were to be available or possibly Najeh Davenport from Miami."
There are rumors that Ricky Watters, the running back from Seattle could make his way to Cleveland after the 2001 season.
"Watters would be an interesting fit in Cleveland," a league source said. "He can still play at a high level, he can run between the tackles, has enough burst to get outside, and can really catch the ball out of the backfield."
"He could be what the doctor ordered for a short term fix in Cleveland.
Does a wide receiver fit into the Browns off season plans? Keep an eye on whether Browns wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie remains on the coaching staff following the 2001 season. Robiskie will be a hot commodity in the NFL this off-season, especially in Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis gains a head coaching position.
If he remains in Cleveland, then wide receiver Michael Westbrook may be a close fit for the Browns.
Westbrook under the tutelage of Robiskie, enjoyed great success in the field as well as crediting Robiskie for helping him mature as a person.
Robiskie is an influential member of the coaching staff and from what we've been told will recommend Westbrook to the Browns.
Another player that could possibility make his way to Cleveland could be former Brown Keenan McCardell.
McCardell, while playing for Jacksonville has been one of the most solid wide receivers in the NFL for the past six seasons. The salary strapped Jaguars most likely will not have sufficient salary cap space to retain McCardell.
A team like the Browns that does not have a veteran influence or presence at the wide receiver position could use a talented, reliable player at this position. With Kevin Johnson being the lone consistent threat at the position at this time, McCardell would immediately improve the offense and provide Tim Couch another weapon on the field.
Just an FYI A couple names that we've been told have been noticed by the Browns are that of wide receiver Kelly Campbell of Georgia Tech and offensive lineman Marc Columbo from Boston College.