The Browns have been very busy, not only in free agency but in making trades. Team president Mike Holmgren says quarterback is the most important position on the team and that is where he has made the biggest changes by trading for Seneca Wallace, releasing Derek Anderson, signing Jake Delhomme and trading Brady Quinn.
So far most of the changes have occurred on offense. In addition to revamping quarterback, the Browns signed free agent offensive tackle Tony Pashos and tight end Ben Watson and acquired running back Peyton Hillis from the Broncos in the trade sending Quinn to Denver.
"When you have a season like last year, as remarkable as it was at the end (four straight wins), it was tough," Holmgren said. "So change is going to take place. To build something up with young people is important. You're trying to develop your core so you don't have to make this many changes in moving forward in the years coming."
Linebacker Scott Fujita from the Saints is the only player added on defense. Two defensive players have been traded. Defensive lineman Corey Williams and a seventh-round pick were traded to the Lions for a fifth-round pick. Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley was traded to the Raiders for a third-round choice.
The various trades have left the Browns with 12 draft picks. The one area that has yet to be improved is the secondary. With quarterback settled for now, with the strong possibility another quarterback will be drafted, the Browns are likely to turn their attention to the defensive backfield through free agency or the draft.
1. Safety: Safety is very thin. Abe Elam, the starting strong safety last season, is a restricted free agent whom the Browns have given a second-round tender. Mike Furrey, who played some safety last year, is unrestricted. Brodney Pool signed with the Jets through free agency. The Browns could package draft picks for Eric Berry in the draft or hope he falls to them with the seventh pick.
2. Cornerback: The Browns need to upgrade right cornerback. Brandon McDonald started 10 games there last year, but he was benched three times for a total of six games. Browns G.M. Tom Heckert says Joe Haden might be the best cornerback in the draft. Haden could be available when the Browns pick seventh.
3. Guard: Tony Pashos could play guard or tackle, but the Browns want him to play tackle. Floyd Womack and Eric Steinbach are the starters, but depth would be an issue if either is injured. Rex Hadnot, who started six games at right guard last year, signed with the Cardinals in free agency.
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--WR/DB Mike Furrey was valuable because he could play both sides of the ball, but the Browns won't break the bank to re-sign him.
--TE Michael Gaines was one of three tight ends signed after the season started. He won't be back unless the Browns can get him at a bargain price.
--CB Hank Poteat is a player opposing quarterbacks picked on constantly. His pass-interference penalty with no time left caused the Browns to lose in Detroit. He will not be back.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
(*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--*S Abe Elam (tendered at $1.759M with second-round pick as compensation) led the Browns in tackles, but he wasn't the game-changer they hoped he would be. The Browns are very thin at safety, though, so they are not likely to let him go.
--*RB Jerome Harrison (tendered at $1.759M with second-round pick as compensation) could end up as the Browns' starter in 2010 after rushing for 561 yards in the last three games if they are willing to pay him enough.
--*LB D'Qwell Jackson (tendered at $1.759M with second-round pick as compensation) led the NFL in tackles in 2008. A pectoral tear in the sixth game ended his 2009 season.
--*LB Matt Roth (tendered at $1.809M with second-round pick as compensation) was claimed on waivers from the Dolphins on Nov. 25. He started all six games he played for the Browns and was a boost to their pass rush.
--*FB Lawrence Vickers (tendered at $1.759M with second-round pick as compensation) was the lead blocker for Harrison's fantastic finish in 2009. If the Browns want to be a running team they have to re-sign Vickers.
--LB Marcus Benard: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Blake Costanzo: ERFA; terms unknown.
--TE Greg Estandia: Not tendered as RFA; terms unknown.
--RB Chris Jennings: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Jason Trusnik: RFA (tendered at $1.684M with second-round pick as compensation); $1.684M/1 yr.
--FS Raymond Ventrone: Not tendered as RFA; $2.2M/3 yrs.
--C/G Billy Yates: UFA; terms unknown. PLAYERS ACQUIRED
--QB Jake Delhomme: FA Panthers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Scott Fujita: UFA Saints; $14M/3 yrs, $8M guaranteed.
--FB Peyton Hillis (Trade Broncos).
--QB Tyler Palko: FA; terms unknown.
--OT Tony Pashos: UFA 49ers; $10.3M/3 yrs, $4.5M guaranteed.
--QB Seneca Wallace (trade Seahawks).
--TE Benjamin Watson: UFA Patriots; $12M/3 yrs, $6.25M guaranteed.
--C Hank Fraley (released).
--G Rex Hadnot: UFA Cardinals; $9M/3 yrs.
--TE Steve Heiden (released).
--RB Jamal Lewis (released).
--*S Brodney Pool: Not tendered as RFA/Jets; $1.3M/1 yr.
--QB Brady Quinn (traded).
--WR Donte' Stallworth (released).
--OL Ryan Tucker: UFA; retired and will be on league suspension for first eight games of the 2010 season.
--DE Corey Williams (traded Lions).
--LB Kamerion Wimbley (traded Raiders).