Browns Free Agency: Making Sense of Day One

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Nov 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, owner Jimmy Haslam and general manager Ray Farmer before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns free agency went off with a whimper yesterday just like Jimmy Haslam warned us it might. As fans we got excited about the possibility of addressing big needs with Trent Cole, Dan Williams and even Darrelle Revis. Haslam, GM Ray Farmer and HC Mike Pettine have made it clear that they see free agency as a supplement to building their team. Paying 140% for 70% of production, an apt free agency equation, instead of paying 60% for 100% production, an apt NFL Draft equation, just doesn’t make sense for the Browns.

We also have story after story of teams who “won” free agency regretting their decisions a few years later and having nothing to show for it. The Philadelphia Eagles, the Dream Team a few years back, fell flat on their face. The Washington Redskins, pretty much always since Dan Snyder, have spent big money in free agency and continue to flail. The Miami Dolphins spent a ton of money two years ago on a number of players, almost all of them were released this year so they could make another big splash. They haven’t made the playoffs either.

Even with all of that knowledge, Browns fans are carrying torches to Berea today. Why didn’t we spend money? How did we miss out on Trent Cole? Jimmy Haslam is cheap! They want supplemental picks and don’t want to win! Free agents don’t want to come to Cleveland because the team is dysfunctional! Etc, Etc, Etc.

One of the major media members in Cleveland, Tony Grossi, came out firing as well in his piece this morning:

"It was a gut-wrenching display of a flawed organization incapable of keeping up with the big boys. In only their second season together, the inexperienced tandem of GM Ray Farmer and coach Mike Pettine took on the appearance of lost baby dinosaurs. The NFL entered a new warp speed on Tuesday, leaving the Browns sputtering in place like the same, worn-down treadmill they have personified for 16 years."

His main argument is that the Browns must not be doing their job because they didn’t join the free agency and trade party that seemed to break news every moment for an hour. That action is the only way to do the job of being a General Manager and that inaction is proof that Farmer and Pettine don’t know what they are doing.

He goes on to talk about the Sam Bradford, Nick Foles trade between the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams. In Grossi’s world, if Foles or Bradford were available than the Browns should have traded for them instead of signing Josh McCown. What Grossi fails to even mention is that the other teams have to want what the Browns have. To get Bradford the Browns would need a Foles, to get Foles the Browns would need a Bradford. Not to mention the draft pick consideration.

No one is denying that Bradford, when healthy, and Foles are more talented than McCown. That is obvious. The Browns didn’t have a QB to give either team to fill their need there. The only other way they would have acquired either QB was a steep overpay. To get Bradford how does two second round picks and likely a 4th sound? To get Foles how does the 19th pick plus more sound? Due to health (Bradford) or talent (Foles) very few believe either is a long term answer at quarterback, especially in the weather of Cleveland.

Grossi goes on to talk about what the Bills did so far. They traded for LeSean McCoy but the Browns don’t have a young linebacker like Kiko Alonso to trade away, nor do they have a big need for a back who has had a ton of touches. They re-signed Jerry Hughes, most players re-sign with the team they are with if that team wants them back and are willing to pay. (We will hit on that more later.)

But let’s get away from Grossi. Fans on our timeline are still mad that the Browns have not made any big impact signings even though the team warned that they wouldn’t. They are consistent at least, they say what they will do and do it. So we are going to quickly address the questions and statements that we listed above that we have received from fans last night and today, the final page is my most passionate statements:

Next: Won't Spend Money