Cleveland Browns assistant general manager Ray Farmer explained why he opted to pass on the opportunity he had with the Miami Dolphins. According to Farmer, he believes in what the Browns are doing, believes in general manager Mike Lombardi, who he had the opportunity to no longer work under, and did not want to miss what this team could be building.
“I think Cleveland is primed and I think we’re in a position to redefine the history books,” Farmer told cleveland.com. “I think change is on the horizon and I didn’t want to miss what’s going to happen in Cleveland.”
Excusing Farmer for an awkward word choice there, his message gets across clearly. He has extremely high expectations for the Browns, which is notable considering their history, both recently in the past year as well as since their return would suggest he hedge his bets. The team fired the first head coach they hired in Rob Chudzinski after just one season and are now betting on Mike Pettine to be their man. And it is for a franchise that has had one playoff appearance and two winning seasons since their return in 1999.
The Browns have talent on the roster and a nice pile of draft picks to use this year, so they certainly have the opportunity to turn things around quickly, but this is also a pressure packed situation for the front office. The future of the franchise as well as a number of jobs could ultimately be determined over the next three months.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins are not highly regarded as an organization right now, but they have had more success recently including this past season, so it would have been easy for Farmer to go and become their general manager.
“I didn’t finish the process,” said Farmer. “I assume they would’ve given me the job. That’s the way it was articulated to me. If I took the job, I would’ve reported directly to (Dolphins owner) Stephen Ross and it was a tremendous opportunity. It still is a dream of mine to become a general manager and run my own program and put together my own team, but it wasn’t the right time for me.”
“I knew what I had here. I know what I think is going to happen here, and I know what we have in place. So to that degree, the known is better than the unknown.”
Carl Peterson was running the search for the Dolphins and Farmer had worked under him when he served as the general manager of the Dolphins. It was long believed that Farmer was not only a favorite but the person expected to get the job.
Since even the rumor of his hiring, general manager Mike Lombardi has been the target of substantial skepticism and crticism with an obsession over his availability to the media. Farmer also sung Lombardi’s praises, which is only notable for the simple fact he could have left.
“I love Mike Lombardi,” said Farmer. “A lot of people in this city don’t, but those people don’t know him. He’s one of my dearest friends at this point. He’s intelligent, he’s smart, he’s witty, he challenges me every day to be better, so I like where I’m at and I like him. There are no assurances in the NFL and coming off a 4-12 season people are skeptical, people don’t understand why some decisions were made inside the building, but again I think inevitably, I trust the process we’re going through.”
For a team and organization that has been described as dysfunctional, Farmer had a golden opportunity to get out of a bad situation. The argument can be made that Farmer avoided a worse situation, but it is tough to paint the Browns as being that bad when someone who is regarded highly around the league wants to stay.
Ultimately, the draft will determine quite a bit when it comes to this front office. If they are unable to deliver a franchise quarterback, this front office will be deemed a failure and some if not all of them will be flushed after this year. It is a precarious situation, but one this front office embraced and worked toward since their establishment last season. Everything they have done pointed to this year’s draft being the one that was going to make this team sink or swim. The Browns need to capitalize on Farmer’s presence and expertise as long as they are able. At just 39, his future is regarded as being extremely bright and his ability to evaluate talent will be critical this year.
The last part of this that is important is that if Farmer is this confident, they must like what they see in the draft. It is hard to imagine they would bet on Brian Hoyer totally and scouts at the Reese’s Senior Bowl were always looking at the quarterbacks throwing, so the expectation is they will draft one early. It would suggest they feel good about who they believe is going to be available when they pick. Hopefully, Farmer is right and this front office can deliver a great team for years to come.