Aug 28, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, left, and general manager Ray Farmer talk before a game against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
If the Cleveland Browns move on from general manager Ray Farmer after the season, here are three names to keep an eye on.
Barring a major change of heart or mind by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, this season will likely be the last in Cleveland for both general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine.
While Pettine has had his own share of ineptitude this season and has received deserved criticism, part of the reason for these struggles has been the talent, or lack thereof, that has been trotted out on the field every week and called a football team.
Here is where the blame falls on Farmer.
The job of a general manager is not one that requires strenuous action during the season and could almost be considered a non-factor outside of trades and signings. Where the general manager is most needed is during the offseason.
From scouting players leading up to the draft to the draft itself, and being on the lookout for any free agents that could come in and positively impact your team, arguably the most important job of a general manager is the ability to spot talent – something that has eluded Farmer during his tenure in Cleveland.
Justin Gilbert, Vince Mayle and Terrance West are all selections by Farmer that have had zero impact on the Browns roster, just to name a few. Mayle is not even currently on an NFL roster, West bounced from the Tennessee Titans to the Baltimore Ravens, while Gilbert is a top-10 pick that only remains on the team due to Farmer’s pride.
Even the greatest coach in the world can’t turn a pile of mud into a diamond. What Cleveland needs more than anything, even a new coach, is someone in the front office who knows what they are doing and has the ability to know which players to sign and which ones to avoid.
Here is my short list of potential candidates, in no particular order, the Browns should look to if they decide to replace Farmer after this season.
Mark Dominik – ESPN Analyst
Dominik spent five years as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009 to 2013. Before that he was Tampa’s director of pro scouting from 1997 to 2008. While the 2011 draft and the Josh Johnson debacle are no doubt black marks on his résumé, the rest of his body of work outweighs those negatives.
Drafting Gerald McCoy in 2010 (third overall), Doug Martin and Levonte David in 2012 (31st and 58th overall, respectively), signing Vincent Jackson the same year, and the blockbuster trade that brought Darrelle Revis Tampa Bay along with a six-year, $96 million contract, in which Dominik was able to negotiate no guaranteed money for one of, if not the best, cornerbacks in the NFL.
While Dominik wouldn’t be the most ideal guy to bring in from a drafting perspective, should Haslam decide he wants the talent that will fill the Browns roster to come from current players and veterans, Dominik could very well be his guy.
Terry McDonough – VP of Player Personnel for the Arizona Cardinals
While it could be tough to lure McDonough away from Arizona considering the Cardinals recent success, his former affiliation with Cleveland before the move could make for a slight nostalgia angle.
Entering his third season with the Cardinals and his 24th in the NFL, in which he’s been in a scouting position in all of them, if it’s experience Haslam wants, McDonough is the guy to go to.
Through his first three seasons in Arizona, he has been able to hit on players outside of the first round. Some of the most notable being Andre Ellington (6th round 2013), Tyrann Mathieu (3rd round 2013), John Brown (3rd round 2014), and David Johnson (3rd round 2015).
McDonough is a guy that would bring a great scouting mind to Cleveland, give fans real hope for a potential turnaround through the draft, and give the coaches real piece of mind that they won’t be fired for lack of talent on the field.
Chris Ballard – Director of Pro Personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs
Ballard in entering his 15th NFL season and third with the Chiefs as director of pro personnel. After being brought on for the 2013 season, Ballard, along with the rest of the personnel staff, managed to turn around a Chiefs team that had finished just 2-14 a season before.
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He was also a member of the personnel staff for the Chicago Bears during their run of success from 2001 in 2010 in which the team appeared in two NFC Championship games and made it to the Super Bowl following the 2006 season.
During his time in Chicago, he was an instrumental part in the drafting of players such as Matt Forte and Charles Tillman, and helped with the signings of Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett. While working directly with general manager John Dorsey in Kansas City, Ballard has yet to have tremendous success outside of the first round, with the most notable names being Travis Kelce in the third round of 2013 and Phillip Gaines in the third round of 2014.
Similar to Dominik, Ballard won’t necessarily be the guy for Haslam to bring in if he’s looking to make this turnaround happen through the draft. While Ballard could be counted on to find a diamond in the rough here or there and be successful in the first round, he would be more the man to bring in big names that have already been established in the league, something Cleveland has struggled to do since returning.