Derry: A Bright Future in Sales

Frank discusses the Browns off-season to date, the impact of Jamal Lewis on the team's draft plans.

If Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel ever lose their football jobs, they should have no trouble finding work as salesmen. 

How else can you explain their ability to quickly land talented free agents Jamel Lewis and Eric Steinbach

Sure, Savage and Crennel had plenty of money to offer. But, quite frankly, if I was a talented football player who was free to negotiate with any team in football, it would take more than big bucks to make me want to play for the Cleveland Browns

I mean, let's face it … the Cleveland Browns are not an upper-echelon team now nor at any time in the recent past. Even with Lewis, Steinbach, cornerback Kenny Wright and outside linebacker Antwan Peek, along with at least two blue-chip prospects from this year's draft, the Browns will not be among the favorites to make the playoffs this coming season.   

Granted, they've narrowed the once-huge gap between themselves and the Steelers, Bengals and Ravens, but I predict the Browns still will be picked to finish last in the AFC North by most prognosticators this coming summer. 

Make no mistake, I like what Savage and Crennel have done this month.  

For the second year in a row, they were able to sign the very best free agent offensive lineman in left guard Steinbach, whose arrival in Cleveland should also weaken the Bengals' offensive line. 

Any time a team can steal a solid player from within its own division, it's almost like getting two for the price of one. 

One might also make the same argument in regards to the acquisition of Lewis, although his is a different situation.  

The Ravens probably improved their running game by trading for Bills running back Willie McGahee, who despite the serious knee injury he suffered against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the national championship game a few years back, is an upgrade from Lewis. 

Most people agree that Lewis, despite being only 27 years old, is on the downside of his career. The Ravens rode him pretty hard his first few years due to their lack of a solid quarterback. 

It'll be interesting to see how well he can perform behind an offensive line that, while it appears to be improving, doesn't have a Jonathan Ogden as an anchor. 

It'll also be interesting to see if the Browns will still draft Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson with the third pick in this year's draft.

It has been rumored for at least a month that Peterson is the player the Browns want. However, with Lewis on board, it gives the Browns a bit more flexibility if indeed they get an offer they can't refuse for the third pick.  

If the Browns can trade down a spot or two and still have a chance to draft Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas, plus pick up an additional second-round pick, they could end up getting three immediate starters from this year's draft. 

That's what I would try to do, although it must be noted that neither Savage nor Crennel has yet to call and ask my opinion. (Maybe they'll read this and save themselves a phone call.) 

If indeed the Browns stay at the No. 3 spot and do indeed draft Peterson, it would be nice to say that Lewis might serve as a better mentor for Peterson than Droughns. However, Lewis is no angel. He spent the 2005 season in prison for using his cell phone for a drug buy. 

I'll let you decide whether a drug buy is worse than alleged domestic abuse, but one way or the other I hope the Browns would find someone else to help Peterson make his adjustment to the NFL, if indeed he is The Chosen One. 

All in all, it has been a good start to the off-season for the Browns. They still need help at cornerback, another offensive guard and an upgrade on the defensive line, but at this stage they definitely are a lot closer to respectability than they were at the end of the 2006 season.     

For that, they can thank the excellent sales jobs done by Savage and Crennel, who didn't have much to offer other than Randy Lerner's big bucks.

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