Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Random thoughts at the dawn of 2014 free agency . . .

If the Browns sign Matt Schaub as a free agent, they will not draft a quarterback in the first round of the college draft on May 8. Maybe not even the second round. More likely the third round or later.

It would appear they have loads of faith that new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who worked successfully with Schaub in Houston, can resurrect the quarterback’s career, which suffered a big hit last season.

With Brian Hoyer, Schaub and Rex Grossman (strongly rumored headed for the Browns) on board, the need for a developmental quarterback is not as urgent as before.
*     *     *
The Browns got a little older on defense and a lot meaner and larger. After saying goodbye to D’Qwell Jackson and T. J. Ward and saying hello to Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, it obvious the Cleveland defense in 2014 will be hyper aggressive.

Whitner, just 16 months older than Ward, is every bit as bellicose as Ward, but a much better cover strong safety. And Dansby, unusually large for an inside linebacker at 6-4, 245 pounds, is much better than Jackson in the run game and passing game.

In adding Dansby and Whitner to the roster, new coach Mike Pettine now has two weapons with which to back up his contention that the Cleveland defense will be much more aggressive this season.
*     *     *
The four-year offer sheet to the dwarfish (comparatively speaking) wide receiver Andrew Hawkins is puzzling. Yes, the 5-7 former Bengals wideout is fast and quick. But if the Bengals don’t match the Browns’ offer and he signs with Cleveland, he becomes a redundancy to the offense.

Isn’t Travis Benjamin still with the Browns? And isn’t he every bit as quick and fast as Hawkins?

Here’s hoping the Bengals match the offer sheet. Word out of Cincinnati is they will. Good.
*     *     *
News item: The Washington Redskins sign former Browns guard Shawn Lauvao to a four-year, $17 million contract.

I call that addition by subtraction.

While he’s a decent (trying to be nice here) pass blocker, he is awful in the run game. The Redskins, who have a good ground game, will find that out in a hurry. They definitely overpaid for him.
*     *     * 
He’s 5-8 and 170 pounds, 31 years old, played for Pettine with the New York Jets and never played regularly in the National Football League. So why did the Browns sign defensive back Isaiah Trufant as a free agent?

Beats me. Teams weren’t exactly falling all over themselves to sign this guy. The Browns beat no one to the punch here. So why . . .

Maybe it’s the Pettine connection. Maybe it’s the name Trufant. Older brother Marcus has had a nice NFL career and kid brother Desmond was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons a year ago. Both are defensive backs.

That still doesn’t answer the question. If he makes the club, he’s nothing better than a special teams guy. If that.

*     *     *
More thoughts as they warrant.  


  1. Two things so far. First, while Dansby has been very good, I'm not sure giving $10 million and $14 million guaranteed to a 32 year old LB is such a great move. Players at that age fall off the ledge fast. Ray Lewis was a shell of his old self for a number of years.

    Second thing is: when are they going to do something to improve the offense? The Bengals midget slot guy is their first effort? How about some OL help?

    Third thing (I guess I did have more than two thoughts...). Is Mack really that good to work so hard to keep him? The big complaint about him is that he doesn't get much push in the run game. Or was that simply PR from Banner/Lombardi to de-value Mack so they wouldn't look bad no resigning him?

    Paul from Seattle

  2. Hi Paul,

    The age factor is the only negative with Dansby. But he played very well for the Cardinals out here last season.He should be able to give the Browns at least two good seasons.

    As for the offense, if they can't help themselves in free agency on that side of the ball, theres's always the draft. It's deep and full of very good offensive players.

    Regarding Mack, my belief is that once they were assured they could lock down Donte Whitner, they didn't shed tears when Mack left.

    Be patient. The Browns are far from being done restructuring the team. The release of Weeden and Campbell assures fans that a different look is coming.

    I don't think Banner/Lombardi had anything to do with it. This was Farmer's call.

  3. It's really hard to be patient anymore. Year after year of losing. All this cap space but we watch other teams make the big splash. For the big press conference yesterday, they trot out Trufant along with Dansby and Whitner. Seriously? Trufant, a lifer back-up signing after whiffing on Revis and Byrd? They should have made the Revis deal. Simply pay the guy his demands in his first year then see if you can work a restructured deal once you have him. They have the cap room to pay the guy this year and he would have instantly given the Browns the best corner tandem in the NFL. Or sign Byrd to the deal the Saints gave him even if it was a ridiculous contract. The cap will only balloon in the next couple of years anyway, minimizing the long term cap hit.

    Either signing, especially Revis, would have changed the image of the franchise in my mind. It would have given the Browns badly needed good press and served notice on the league that they want to become true players, not continual bottom feeders.

    Who knows? I'm not an expert, but I see winning franchises making bold moves while the Browns continue to play small ball. Paul from Seattle

  4. Hi Paul,

    I sense you're a bit frustrated. Just kidding. I think.

    They were between as rock and hard place with Revis. With Talib gone from New England, my guess is the Patriots told Revis to wait, get his release and they would sign him.

    Maybe the Browns tried to trade for Revis, but the deal might have been tied to the ability to restructure his contract. And if he said no, which he probably did since he wanted to go to New England, nothing happened.

    Byrd wasn't coming to the Browns. He just wanted to get out of Buffalo and the Saints, the kind of winning team that appealed to him, cooperated and gave him a deal that made him happy.

    It's tough to make a big splash when you're racking up double-digit loss seasons. The higher-profile free agents tend to wind up with winning teams.

    Frustrating, I know, but something you're going to have to live with until they can start winning consistently.