If all goes Cleveland’s way, NFL.com will be hocking Robert Griffin III’s Browns jersey at some point in late April. But as many have already pointed out, selecting the Baylor quarterback will likely require the Browns to give up their late first-round pick, making it difficult to infuse multiple big-name playmakers through the draft. If the Browns want to inspire some semblance of faith in their downtrodden fan base, they will open up their pockets and try to lure some big names via free agency.
The adage that successful teams are built through the draft is true. And, considering the promising young playmakers brought in over the past few seasons, the Browns take the months of February through April as seriously as any other team (to be fair, having top-ten pick after top-ten pick makes this a necessity). But the Browns simply don’t have the luxury of depth that teams famous for their draft day dedication have; it’s easy for the Pittsburgh Steelers to pick a late first-rounder and let him sit for a couple of years. For the Browns, not so much.
The Houston Texans’ Mario Williams should be just as desired as Robert Griffin III. The former No. 1 pick has more than come into his own since entering the league, and he has the ability to line up as a defensive end or outside linebacker. He isn’t exactly the best-kept secret in free agency; if he does leave the Texans, he will get calls from half of the league’s teams. Still, a player like him is exactly what the Browns need: a veteran pass rusher who can make a difference within a talented but inexperienced unit.There is no doubt that the defense needs to be addressed through free agency.
On the other side of the coin, Cleveland’s offense looked as anemic as ever last season. Unlike the defense, though, it’s hard to find a playmaker who looks capable of making a difference down the road. Look up and down the list of free agents, and one finds multiple names that would look great wearing orange and brown: Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace, and Dwayne Bowe can all step in and ease the burden on whoever is taking snaps.
History has proven time and again that dynasties are built through the draft. But the Browns have too many holes to believe that patient dedication to this will ever actually work. If they want to turn things around and win fans back – and at this point, that should be the No.1 goal – dipping into the free agency pool to import some premium talent is the best way to do it.