I read a piece on the internet recently complaining about Randy Lerner not being invested enough, financially, in the Browns. That is completely false. The problems in Cleveland have nothing to do with spending money or the lack thereof.
In fact, the Browns had a total player payroll of 132 million dollars in 2008. That was the fourth highest payroll for players in the entire NFL. It was significantly higher than the two teams that competed for the Super Bowl, the Steelers and the Cardinals. Only Oakland, Dallas and the Vikings had higher total player payrolls than the Browns last season. Think about that; the top four NFL teams for spending money on players in 2008 got little back in return. The Vikings took an early exit from the Playoffs, while the Raiders, Cowboys and Browns went skiing.
The Colts, the Ravens and the Patriots, on the other hand, were all in the bottom five in 2008 in total player payrolls (each under $100 million – 25% less than what the Browns spent). And those are three fairly successful franchises. The Colts and the Ravens both made the Playoffs last season and have been competitive for years. The Patriots would have made the post-season but for being in a fairly competitive division, and we all know what New England has accomplished in the last several seasons.
This dichotomy applies to the Cleveland roster as well. Except for Joe Thomas at left tackle who got paid nearly $9.5 million last year and had a Pro Bowl season, some of our big money players simply failed to deliver. For example, Braylon Edwards received $8 million last season, essentially for one good game against the Giants on Monday Night Football. A player like linebacker Alex Hall, on the other hand, exceeded his pay in spades. Hall earned a little more than $300,000 last season, a mere pauper’s pay in professional sports standards. But he played more like a prince. Starting in just two games and playing less than 20% of the snaps in the games that he did play in, Alex tallied 3 sacks (nearly 20% of the Team’s total sack count), a couple of forced fumbles and nearly 20 tackles.
Sometimes you get what you pay for; sometimes you get considerably less and rarely you get surprisingly more. But stop this ridiculous mantra that Lerner has to spend more money. Hogwash. We should be spending less money but demanding much more from the players. When they do not deliver, they should be ditched without any fanfair. Player loyalty does not exist anymore. Anyone can be traded anytime if he does not perform. The only lesson to learn is to minimize guaranteed long-term contracts so that everyone is dispensible.
We hope that Mangini and Kokinis bring a more cut-throat approach to the Browns and prove that Lerner’s spending is not the issue.