Depending on your perspective it either seems the Browns have been really active this off-season or not active enough. They have signed two players from outside the organization with Tony Pashos and Scott Fujita. They have made a deal with one of their own in Josh Cribbs. They have traded a second day pick from next year’s draft to bring in presumed backup or stop gap with Seneca Wallace. Now yesterday, they (finally) cut Derek Anderson. But how active should the Browns be in free agency?
I know a lot of us were dreaming about not only bringing back Jerome Harrison, but also signing someone like Thomas Jones to run the ball too. Jones is now gone to Kansas City without so much as a hint of a visit to Cleveland. It was a trade, not free agency, but Anquan Boldin has joined the Ravens to go along with their signing of Donte Stallworth. They could also potentially bring back an aging Mason to round out a receiving corps with a lot of potential compared to what the Browns have. The Steelers went out and re-signed their safety Ryan Clark while also welcoming Antwaan Randle-El back from Washington to play receiver. Then you consider that the Bengals are hosting Terrell Owens, amongst others. Through that looking glass, it would appear that the Browns are incredibly behind in the process.
It makes me wonder though. The Browns are trying to build a concept. They haven’t been anywhere near as close to success as the rest of the teams in the AFC North in recent history. Because the Browns are in a different stage of development, maybe it doesn’t make sense to go out and grab all the veterans all over the field like the rest of the teams in the division. The adage is that you build your teams through the draft and pick your spots in free agency. While patience is a tough thing to preach, and an even tougher thing to live by, maybe that is exactly what the Browns need to do. This isn’t fantasy football where the Browns can just go out and fill the roster with names we all know and all of a sudden be successful. How well did it work out for Buffalo and Terrell Owens last season?
Obviously we don’t know all of Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s plans for the rest of free agency, but I expect a lot more of the same. I expect them to pick their spots at positions of need where they won’t have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for the signing. By this I mean that I think the Browns could potentially find more good character players like Scott Fujita is reported as being. Even if they sign four more veteran type players, unless the quarterback of the future reveals himself, I don’t expect Heckert and Holmgren to go out and get guys who could potentially change the culture of the team for the worse because they have a ton of talent. I am guessing they are intent on continuing to develop the culture this year, and build the base of the team up. Once that is established and ingrained we will have more exciting off-seasons with regard to free agency and some of the more marginal characters that possess giant amounts of talent.
(Photo Joshua Gunter/Cleveland Plain Dealer)