Just what the Browns didn’t need
The Browns’ new theme song this season should be “Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine.”
After Wednesday’s roster massacre as the National Football League’s free-agency period commenced, the Browns are now looking for a new center, a new offensive right tackle, a new wide receiver and a new free safety.
Other than that, everything is just fine in Berea.
In no particular order, Alex Mack, Travis Benjamin, Mitchell Schwartz and Tashaun Gipson said farewell to the shores of Lake Erie in what can be best described as the great 2016 mass exodus from Cleveland.
Each of the aforementioned was a vital contributor to the cause at one time or another over the last few seasons and definitely will be missed. Makes no difference where they wound up. It’s where they didn’t that matters.
The Browns for sure are a poorer team because they no longer draw paychecks signed by Jimmy Haslam III.
Don’t know whether it was the constant losing that drove these four out of town or the inability of the new front office to convince them that things were changing with the hiring of Hue Jackson.
It conjured up thoughts of the back-to-the-drawing-board mentality that has dogged this franchise since the NFL benevolently decided to allow the city back into the league in 1999.
The Browns, of course, will recover from these losses. The big question, though, is how long it will take. When a team loses core players, especially four in one gulp, the recovery period is always much longer.
This is a 4-12 team that just got a whole lot worse. It’s fairly safe to say the replacements for this quartet will weaken the team.
The Browns lost 40% of their starting offensive line and not just any 40%. Mack was just starting to regain his Pro Bowl form after missing most of the 2014 season with a broken leg. And Schwartz was arguably one of the best right tackles in the league.
Yes, Joe Thomas is still hanging around, but the perennial All-Pro offensive tackle isn’t getting any younger. And the prospect of breaking in a new center and right tackle should frighten Cleveland quarterbacks.
Benjamin gave the Browns a dimension in the return game they lacked since the departure of Joshua Cribbs – the ability to make big plays at any given time. And he was a sometimes contributor to the passing game.
Right now, Jackson and Browns boss Sashi Brown have a monumental task ahead and very little experience at being able to come up with the right answers.
Just when this franchise needs a boost, it is rewarded with a swift kick in the hind flanks. Controlling the damage faces a steep uphill climb because it appears no one with any substantial value wants to play in Cleveland.
That is what Brown, Jackson and Haslam face as they strive to do something no one has been able to do since the team returned to Cleveland 17 years ago – build a winner.
They are off to a terrible start.