Cleveland Browns: No Comparisons for This Fixer Upper
The Cleveland Browns have an unprecedented opportunity to give their football team an extreme makeover in 2018. So why do fans feel so much uncertainty?
Rebuilding the Cleveland Browns is like remodeling a home. As my daughter and I watch home renovation shows, one of the phrases we hear a lot is “What are the comps?” This means what comparable homes are listing for in that area. Knowing the value of these homes adds confidence that there will be a profitable return on investment.
As part of these renovations, homeowners provide an “all in” budget. This budget creates forced choices and priorities. It also means they usually can’t get everything they want.
What does this have to do with the 2018 Cleveland Browns? Every NFL team has an “all in” budget as they approach their offseason needs. They have a salary cap. They only have so many draft choices. They have to make tough choices. This is what makes the Browns current situation so different.
For starters, the Browns have an unprecedented $110 million in salary cap space. But even after that, the Browns have 12 draft picks, with six of those picks occurring in the first 65. That’s one heck of an “all in” budget. Perhaps the Browns can’t get everything they want, but they shouldn’t have to cut corners. So why are fans so anxious?
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Ultimately the success of these renovations comes down to the vision of the designer and the ability of contractors and builders to execute that vision. The clients on these shows have confidence based on the proven track record these “fixer uppers” have with comparable homes.
But in the case of the Browns rebuild, there are no easy comparisons. In five years as General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, John Dorsey had a total of eight draft picks in the top 65. He has been gifted six this season alone.
If the quarterback position is like the kitchen in a home, is this where he spends his draft capital? It bears noting that in 2017 the Chiefs did trade up to take Patrick Mahomes, the Texas Tech quarterback in the first round. But prior to that, largely because Alex Smith was on the Chiefs roster, the only other quarterback he drafted was Kevin Hogan out of Stanford as a fifth-rounder in 2016.
And then there’s that $110 million windfall to spend in free agency. We have no benchmark for how Dorsey, or for that matter any other general manager, will prioritize this spending. Does he devote much of this to one position (i.e. quarterback) or does he strategically spread the wealth to fill as many holes as possible based on available players? It’s exciting and anxiety-ridden at the same time.
Ultimately, the Browns are in the position they are in because they have been unprecedented in a less desirable way. By choosing to gut the team of veterans and play with the youngest team in the NFL for two seasons, they have earned a 1-31 record.
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They have also acquired draft picks, in part, by opting not to select Carson Wentz (2016) and Deshaun Watson (2017). They have truly made the bed they now sleep in. But that was a different regime. As fans we can only hope that John Dorsey and his team can give this fixer upper some real curb appeal.