Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's purge time

And so the purge begins.

Reluctant last season to strip the roster during their first trip, Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert Jr. chose the safe road through the 2010 season. Right to a 5-11 finish.

So thank you very much, Eric Mangini. There’s the door. Hit it and don’t come back.

Now that Mangini is gone, a number of the players he brought to Cleveland have begun the same march out of town with Wednesday’s announcement that Shaun Rogers, Eric Barton, David Bowens, John St. Clair, Kenyon Coleman and Robert Royal are outta here. All but Rogers is a Mangini guy.

With their long-overdue departure, the Browns have automatically become younger. Significantly younger.

Barton is a 13-year veteran; St. Clair has been around for a dozen seasons; Rogers is an 11-year guy; Bowens has managed to stick around for 13 seasons; and Coleman and Royal have been collecting paychecks for 10 years.

All most will likely find employment elsewhere around the National Football League next season because they are serviceable. Just not in Cleveland.

The Browns were one of the oldest teams, if not the oldest, in the NFL last season, as they struggled to become competitive. This trimming of the fat, no pun intended, is just the first move. There’s plenty more to come. This is just the beginning.

Many familiar names who contributed so lamely to the 5-11 record will fall by the wayside in the not-too-distant future as the shape of the Browns changes dramatically.

Holmgren and Heckert undoubtedly have a plan to restore this franchise to its former glory and their vision does not include some of the underachievers that have populated Cleveland rosters the last several seasons.

On the bubble are such luminaries (sarcasm intended) as Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace, Abram Elam, Ray Ventrone, Matt Roth, Marcus Benard, Pork Chop Womack, Nick Sorensen, Kaluka Maiava, Alex Smith, Chansi Stuckey, Brian Schaefering, Robaire Smith and Jason Trusnick. Most of them are Mangini guys.

When Holmgren and Heckert are through, this will make Mangini’s plundering of the roster of Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel seem tame by comparison. It’s time to change the culture on this team and they know it.

So any resemblance between the 2010 roster and the one that opens the 2011 season – how’s that for being optimistic the league and NFLPA will get together on a new collective bargaining agreement? – will be strictly coincidental.

There are going to be a lot of new faces on the new Cleveland roster and, given Heckert’s reputation for solid drafting, brighter days are ahead for Browns fans. During his watch as general manager in Philadelphia, the Eagles became one of the most powerful teams in the NFL on an annual basis.

Watching the 2010 version of the Browns had to be painful for the H&H men, both of whom are not used to watching bad football. And both men know the quickest way to become relevant and competitive in the NFL is via the college draft.

All you have to do is look at the rosters of the two teams in the most recent Super Bowl to realize how true that is. It’s about time Cleveland joined the parade.

So carry on, men. Let the purge continue.

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