The Browns must be able to build the bulk of their roster through both current players and future draft picks. Then, and only then, can free agency become a major means by which acquisitions take place.
Cleveland is all too familiar with underachieving free agents. In recent years, Dwayne Bowe and Ben Tate have tortured fans with their poor and uninspired play, contributing to two very forgettable seasons. While this may have been partially due to the individuals themselves, there is undeniably an element of laziness which stems from being on a struggling team.
To avoid this in the future the Browns must hold off on free agency and major trades until they have at least a shell of a roster with potential. In some ways, they already do. But they lack the offensive line and the secondary, necessary pieces to attract big name free agents.
Also, the team can’t just blindly throw money at players that they think will make a difference. This is what they did in 2014, throwing $6.2 million at Tate, and $9 million at Bowe. In the end, Tate was gone before the conclusion of the season, and Bowe caught a total of five passes in seven games.
Once the team does become somewhat relevant again, likely after 2017, free agency becomes an option. The team can go after a running back, as well as a defensive lineman or linebacker. Making a splash in free agency would serve as a signal to the rest of the league that the up and coming Browns are legitimate. Wins would then begin to pile up, and the team would be in position to take the division crown by 2019.