My esteemed colleague Steve DiMatteo casually mentioned in a recent article that patience is key for what the Cleveland Browns are currently going through, and I want to elaborate off of that in a big way.
First of all, the brass in Cleveland flat-out said that they were not going to be making a ton of moves and going after a bunch of big free agents, so if anyone is surprised that those words are coming true, then that’s just weird.
Second of all, who were the Browns going to sign? In this weird world that just came into being, former Browns offensive lineman Artis Hicks is essentially getting an equal-in-value contract to that of former running back Peyton Hillis (about $2.5m total for Hicks, and about $3m total for Hillis). What kind of splash could Cleveland have made? I remember hoping against logic (several months ago) that they could somehow swing a monster like Mario Williams, and then he signed the biggest contract for a defensive player since ever, so that’s, you know, gone.
Wide receivers have somehow replaced left tackles and everything but quarterbacks as this year’s insanely overpriced position to sign, and I’m relatively okay with that. The Browns weren’t going to shell out $80 million for a wide receiver, and the only way they should have considered it was if Jerry Rice was cloned 21 years ago and it went perfectly to plan and the Browns somehow had the right to sign him. Spoiler alert: Jerry Rice was cloned 21 years ago but it didn’t pan out.
Because it’s completely illogical, that’s why. The Browns have holes to the point of being a bad pun about swiss cheese or screen doors. There are enough problems going on that signing a stud player is not going to make the difference. Incidentally, this is the same reason that it was fine by me that it was the Redskins who offered up their future for Robert Griffin III recently.
Everyone and everything in the NFL is a crapshoot. There is no such thing as a sure thing. Drafting is luck, matching a player with the right coaching staff is luck, and winning or losing close games is often luck. Had three or four plays gone differently last year, the Browns would have won at least two more games. But they didn’t, and now we’re stuck with the same situation as every other year.
But more than all of that nonsense, the reason that I’m fine with the team sitting back and making small signings is that it’s what the better teams tend to do. Can you remember a year in the last ten seasons when the New England Patriots burst into the free agency market and made big-splash signings? Did the Pittsburgh Steelers jump at the chance to get anyone on Thursday? What about the Green Bay Packers? Or the New York Giants?
The well-built teams do it slowly and meticulously. Last season’s free agency mess led to the Philadelphia Eagles being the huge winners in the league. They snatched up studs and they put forth a “dream team” that tail-spun into the most talked about 8-8 team in history. Meanwhile, the Giants didn’t chase the big signings that were tossed around, made a few minor moves, struggled, found its rhythm at the right time, and are suddenly Super Bowl champs.
I admittedly don’t understand the NFL, but neither do you. There are a group of guys in Berea right now who are making an insane amount of money to understand the NFL, and I’m okay with that. They’re going to continue to do their thing, which they have a track record of doing well. Mike Holmgren slowly develops good teams. That’s it. There’s no other way to look at it. He’s got another chance to slowly create a good team and he’s doing it his way – what more do you want?
There’s no season for the next six months so you’re going to have to live with whatever decisions are made, so can we please just agree to hope that they’re good and not talk trash about every decision and non-decision that the team makes?
Oh, right, this is Cleveland. That’s absurd.