The NFL Offseason: Where Mel Kiper gets more TV air time than the President of the United States and veterans (and their respective agents) are on the prowl for long-term, guaranteed money. Thankfully, at least for fans of the Cleveland Browns, Phil Savage has resurrected the offense via key free agent additions over the course of the past few seasons.
While the LeCharles Bentley addition could have worked out a little better (understatement of the century?), that was the same season that brought us another local boy in Joe Jurevicius. Had it not been for Joe J, I can show you countless third-and-long situations that could have gone the other way if not for his key role.
The additions of Jamal Lewis and Eric Steinbach to last year’s team are thought of by many to be the transactions that put the Browns back on the map, even though we did fall a game short of the post season.
Free agency is in full swing yet again, but while other teams will look to add the next Randy Moss, the Cleveland Browns will be addressing some other needs via signings. Specifically, the defense.
Buried within [this weekend's PD piece involving] Terry Pluto pulling Browns fans off of the ledge following Derek Anderson’s Pro Bowl performance was his discussion regarding the defense.
The Browns would like to find a bigger linebacker to play the Mike, or strongside inside linebacker, spot now held down by Andra Davis and Leon Williams. The Bears’ Lance Briggs is a free agent, but the Browns think he’s more suited to a role like D’Qwell Jackson at the other inside spot. They’d love a big, physical linebacker to help stuff the run. They appreciate Davis for his leadership and preparation, but he was playing only about 50 percent of the snaps in several games last season.
Tony Grossi has already put the rumors of Asante Samuel coming to Clevelandto bed, so we can expect the same response for other free agents like Tedy Bruschi, or even Zach Thomas, who is currently looking for the coveted guaranteed money. Cleveland simply will not overpay for an older linebacker at this stage in the game as they cannot afford to in terms of both salary cap and future development.
While I too would love to have Briggs here, Grossi is spot on in his assessment. Don’t forget that while Briggs has racked up a ton of stats in the past few seasons, he had been playing along side another linebacker named Brian Urlacher. You may have heard of him. Couple that with some of the better defensive linemen and DBs in the league over the years and Briggs had plenty of help.
With my favorite free agent to be Karlos Dansby being slapped with the franchise tag in Arizona, the “pickins” are getting slim at the ‘backer spot. A few names are still out there, but are they worth a hefty free agency price? I’m not so sure. It wouldn’t surprise me if Savage and Company put a bid in for someone like Demorio Williams with the Falcons looking to the future in Stephen Nicholas, but it would really have to depend on the money involved.
With all of this said, fans will be keeping their collective ears to the ground to see what Savage has in mind for this defense. With no first round pick (currently), free agency may have to be our medium of acquisition – but the options are not looking good.Print This