Addressing Tony Grossi’s Five Point Browns Plan; My Plan


The Cleveland Browns have had a very difficult off-season so far. Johnny Manziel is in rehab, Josh Gordon is suspended for at least a year and the front office is being investigated by the NFL, and reportedly is in turmoil. Many wish there was a simple answer to the problem, sadly it doesn’t seem that there is. That didn’t stop Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland from presenting his Five Point Plan for the team.

Grossi hits on a number of issues for the Browns and ways that they can be fixed. There is nothing overly surprising about his plan but there may be a few glitches in it. We will look at each point and address them separately, as well as noting how they may be impacted by the others:

"1. Re-sign Brian Hoyer.Do it quickly. The press conference alone would be worth the nominal investment for a three-year contract. Hoyer could make fans feel a little bit better about their team by genuinely expressing his love for the city and team. At this point, who else would choose to sign here?"

“Who else would sign here?” The real question is whether Hoyer will actually sign here or not after what he went through last season. Hoyer may be the best option for the Browns at the QB position. Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston have their question marks, and could get drafted before the Browns have a chance. The trade market is limited which could cause even mediocre QBs to command a high price. The free agent market is barren. When Ryan Mallett, all of 7 games played including 4 with the Patriots as a backup, is Hoyer’s main competition, the options are limited.

If the Browns sign Hoyer it needs to be about play on the field not making fans happy. If Hoyer is the best option then the team needs to do whatever they can to sign Hoyer, and they have the option to do so now, before free agency starts. If they don’t see Hoyer as the best option than they need to be making other plans. The hard part for the Browns is getting Hoyer to agree to return.

"2. Sign the best available wide receiver in free agency.If Dez Bryant is re-signed by the Cowboys, I’m not sure there is a true No. 1 receiver with size and speed available. Unless others become available, the best are Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree and Torrey Smith."

If we are assuming that step 1 happens than step 2 makes some sense and doesn’t go against GM Ray Farmer‘s desire not to spend high draft picks on receivers. The receiver market is deep this year, which should help the Browns some. Bryant is not happening but the other 4 are interesting. Grossi’s point means that if he were the GM he would overpay for one these wide receivers, something Farmer and the Browns could be adverse to doing.

The same issue with Hoyer crops up here: a player has to want to sign with the Browns. Cobb’s college coach is now our WR coach, which could help. Otherwise receivers may not want to Cleveland with Hoyer, or other limited QBs, at the helm. How much would Grossi be willing to overpay to get this top flight receiver? How much would you?

"3. Draft the best available wide receiver at No. 12.This is the second step in correcting GM Ray Farmer’s cataract-affected view of offense. Whether the selection is Alabama’s Amari Cooper, Louisville’s DeVante Parker or West Virginia’s Kevin White, the point is adding a top-flight receiver now so that he is developed by the time the Next Great Hope is on the field."

We get a good sense about what Grossi thinks about Farmer’s team building approach in the first sentence. Signing a free agent receiver then drafting with the Browns first pick would be giving a ton of energy to the position. Adding a deep threat, Smith or Cobb, along with the overall talent of the three Grossi listed would be very exciting for Browns fans.

This is where bad teams tend to continue to be bad: filling needs in the draft. Good teams draft the best players that fit their system, with some exceptions. Bad teams spend year after year trying to fill needs instead of gathering talent in the draft. What happens if all three receivers are off the board at 12? Would Grossi want the Browns to draft the 4th best receiver instead of one of the talented linemen, either side, that would be available? The Draft is about obtaining talent not filling needs.

"4. Draft the best available defensive lineman at No. 19.Joe Haden told me at the Super Bowl the defense needs a feared defensive end to rush the passer and alter offensive game-plans. If the higher-ranked player on the board is a run-stuffing defensive tackle, that would work, too."

A little easier here. Similar situation to the #12 pick. The Browns need to select the talent they need, not the position they need. If a defensive lineman is available and meets their high grade than they should select him. The difference between receiver and defensive line in the draft is significant. Especially this year there are far more talented defenders on the line than their are receivers. It seems likely the Browns draft one at 12 or 19.

"5. Trade Johnny Manziel to the Dallas Cowboys.This is a pure bail-out from a huge mistake. The Browns need to cut their losses and move on from Manziel."

Tony Grossi saved the most interesting for last: trading Manziel. This is so unlikely to happen that it is more of a What If than anything else from his Five Point Plan. For Grossi this seems like the best idea, just move on and he is okay with the negatives. The Browns would be selling very, very low and giving up on a player who has at least admitted he has problems. This would have been a bit more likely had Manziel stayed in denial all off-season and continued to blame others. He didn’t, this trade isn’t happening.

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So there is Grossi’s Five Point Plan to get the Browns moving forward, here is mine in quick form.

  1. Sign Hoyer if you can, if not trade for Mike Glennon
  2. Sign A wide receiver at a reasonable cost: Cobb, Smith, Cecil Shorts and many others available.
  3. Sign quantity of veterans, not the highest priced, on DLine, RB and OLine to go with WR and QB.
  4. Draft Mariota, if he is graded as I expect by the front office, if cost is reasonable. Reasonable = 1st and 4th (3rd maybe) to trade up.
  5. Draft line help on both sides, including a nose tackle in the first 3 rounds.

What is your Five Point Plan? What do you think of Tony Grossi’s? Ours?

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