April 19, 2014

2012 Could Look Like 2011 for Browns in Free Agency

Finally with the Super Bowl completed the Browns can get to work trying to get better.  They will more than likely do it without blockbusters again this off-season.  By that, I mean I don’t expect the strategy to vary wildly.  The Browns probably won’t be in any kinds of bidding wars unless they decide that Matt Flynn is their quarterback.  It isn’t every year that you have the chance at an intriguing QB prospect in his mid 20s, so that specific case is off the boards.  But, other than that, I expect it to look a lot like it did a year ago.

You’ll remember last year’s free agent class featured the likes of Usama Young, Dimitri Patterson and Brandon Jackson.

Patterson was basically the replacement for Eric Wright, so you have to be happy with the results at least based on his first season.  The 28 year-old is again a free agent and I expect the Browns to bring him back, but we’ll see.  There is certainly a chance that Patterson could compete for the starting corner position opposite Joe Haden next season depending on the aging Sheldon Brown.

Usama Young had an up and down initial season with the Browns beginning with an inability to get on the practice field during training camp.  Young ended up having some decent spurts, but also had plenty of forgettable moments.  He did seem to get better as the season progressed, but he never made Mike Adams dispensable, which he was supposed to be able to accomplish.  Young is 26 and will be here two more seasons, so hopefully he continues to progress.

Finally, the mystery man with the turfiest toe of 2011, Brandon Jackson.  He was supposed to be the third down back extraordinairre and the yang to Peyton Hillis’ yin.  The man who signed a two-year deal will look to get on the field for the first time this year as he becomes a free agent again in 2013.

These are the types of signings I expect yet again this season.  Obviously you hope for better results in terms of health and ability to contribute, but the strategy holds. The Browns will be looking for guys in their 20s who will be below the marquee salary levels.  So even if Mario Williams leaves Houston, I wouldn’t expect the Browns to break the bank.  Although, he is only 27, so he fits the profile from that respect, I still don’t expect it.

As Rick talked about yesterday with the receivers though, I think a Pierre Garcon could be the kind of guy the Browns could target to help a struggling receiving corps.  The 25 year-old won’t be in the market for Vincent Jackson money and he has shown a real ability to stretch the field, make big plays and play with serious attitude.  Plus, Garcon had a career year in terms of receptions (70) and yards (947) in a year catching passes from Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter after the Kerry Collins debacle was ended.

So, we’ll see. Whoever it is hopefully the Browns can hit better than 1.5 out of 3 as they did a year ago with Patterson (1), Young (0.5) and Jackson (0.)

Image via WFNY

  • DocZeusX

    Here’s to another 4-12 season where we can’t score any points and look like a JV high school team!  

  • Anonymous

    the FA pool is pretty deep this year because of the CBA rules making 2011 offseason guys be 6yr vets, but back to 4yr vets this year.   so, the good news is that even if we go for tier2 and tier3 guys, there will be alot more of them to choose from.

    (Garcon would be great, but I don’t think Indy will let him go anywhere.  I expect him to re-sign this month before FA opens)

  • Anonymous

    the FA pool is pretty deep this year because of the CBA rules making 2011 offseason guys be 6yr vets, but back to 4yr vets this year.   so, the good news is that even if we go for tier2 and tier3 guys, there will be alot more of them to choose from.

    (Garcon would be great, but I don’t think Indy will let him go anywhere.  I expect him to re-sign this month before FA opens)

  • http://www.cinpleweb.com/ stin4u

    I am alright with getting a tier 2 type FA receiver. I think if you are going to get a number 1 guy you spend a draft pick on him and lock him up for reasonable money.  The point being here, they have to get SOMEONE. 

    I think if you spend a pick on a quality guy, we know who they are (Blackmon/Floyd/Jefferies), and you supplement that pick with a guy who will push Little for No. 2 you are putting yourself in a great position offensively. 

    As an aside, I know we have Jackson but I would LOVE for this team to spend a pick on Doug Martin from Boise. I’ve been harping on this guy for months now, he would fit this system like a glove and he is a great mixture of speed and power to go with Hillis (if they re-sign him). His stock is climbing from a very good Senior Bowl, but I hoping he can be had for a 3rd round pick.

  • http://twitter.com/oribiasi oribiasi

    Vegas beat you to that, my friend; our odds of winning the Super Bowl next season?  75 to 1.  Steelers?  6 to 1.  Packers?  5 to 1.

    HA.

  • Tim K.

    I don’t expect the Browns to be the Eagles of 2011 and sign a big name at every position, but I would like them to at least throw the fans a bone and sign someone like Mario Williams (just an example, don’t know if he’ll be available) as a show of good faith that they’re doing SOMETHING tangible. I understand each regime has a plan for how they want to rebuild, but if you can at least bring in one established marquee-level star, then it sends a positive message. We’ve fallen into this mind-set that marquee players don’t want to play in Cleveland because of the weather or lack of a night-life, but if they can use a billionaire’s money bring in a marquee guy who wants to play good football and win, I think it will go a long way to making this fan base believe that greater things are possible.

  • Jason

    I have to hope beyond hope this is not what happens. The Browns have a chance to overhaul the offense via free agency. In addition, making some big signings helps clarify the draft strategy. Get Flynn and 2 receivers (Garcon/Doucet/Desean Jackson) and use the pick on Richardson. Get 2 receivers, resign Hillis, and use the pick on RGIII. Either way, they almost have to make at least 3 quality free agent signings from a pool of WR/QB/RB to have any chance at being competitive. They just have SO many holes to plug, there’s no way they can acquire and hit on enough picks to get things right.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

    Agree that the Browns are not going to try and win the off-season by overspending on big name free agents, but I do think they will be more active than last year.

    With everything that went on prior to last season with the lockout, no OTAs, shortened training camp, new coaches, new system, new everything, it seems like Holmgren and Heckert decided to err on the side of caution and not turn the roster as much as they would normally have coming off consecutive 5-11 seasons.

    Now whether or not that was a practical or advisable approach can certainly be debated.

    Get some meat and potatoes guys to fill out some holes in free agency (lineman, linebackers) and use the draft for the skill positions.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I6423N7UCT3SVURBC55JGXFYAU Bobby

    You cannot just create an offense from FA. it has to be built. If you are hoping for a magic quick fix (which it sounds like you want) you will be disappointed.

  • Anonymous

    Hate to keep beating this drum but if this offseason, namely free agency, is like last years then I’m one step closer to really not caring much what this organization does anymore.  There will be more then enough players available in free agency that would serve as a jump start to improving the many areas of need on this team.  If the Browns just sit back again and think the only way to improve is the draft then they deserve another 4-12 year. 

  • Tim K.

    I agree with Bobby. We have seen how the defense has been built through the draft the last two years. I think we should use FA to fill some voids there and then rely on the draft and a key offensive FA (or two) to try to get the offense going. Going all out in FA doesn’t necessarily = wins. Look at Philadelphia.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I disagree with the post, though it’s logical. I think we’ll see the Browns grab a few FAs who are solid but not household names per se – there are a number of very good, young DEs and WRs available this year, and picking up one of each (perhaps 2 WRs) wouldn’t be crazy or too costly. It would also set them up with an even larger good young core of players who would be here the next 3-5 years, which is exactly what they’re trying to do. I don’t think we’ll see Mario Williams or Dwayne Bowe, but I think we will see a few guys just below those for half their cost.

  • Anonymous

    shouldn’t you be comparing our chances for next year to teams with similar records?  who does vegas think will improve the most basically?

  • Jeff

    The Browns should do exactly the same in free agency as they have been doing over the past two seasons with H and H at the helm–very little.  This strategy is just like Novocain, give it enough time and it works. When you go out and spend money in free agency you do nothing but overspend for older players that their original teams didn’t want to re-sign.  This is why teams like Washington or New York (Jets) with this strategy never pan out.

    The best teams don’t do this.  They spend their money re-signing their own draft picks while occasionally, key word occasionally, making a big acquisition to help put them over the top.  At the moment, the Browns aren’t one or even two impact players away from becoming contenders so they should just use the money to sign their own players (Jackson, Hillis, etc.) and keep drafting well.
    This strategy isn’t sexy and it won’t please impatient Browns fans, but it is a strategy that is implemented by every perennial contender in the league.  Why?  Because it’s the most consistent and time proven way to build a championship team.  One only has to look at the Texans, Packers, Steelers, Ravens,Giants and almost every other playoff team to see how well the strategy works.

  • Anonymous

    It’s going to be a little frustrating if the Browns only sign Casey Kotchman to fill their giant WR need.

  • Anonymous

    Ravens, Texans and Giants don’t apply they do in fact sign free agents especially Baltimore.  What those teams do, do well, is hit the mark when they make draft picks. 

  • Anonymous

    We could make a real impact for our future this year. I don’t want to sign some overpriced big name free agent but we don’t have to. Desean Jackson is the real deal. We need Heckert to get him here one way or another. If we draft RG3 sign desean jackson and draft either one of the receivers floyd or wright this could have a real impact this year without doing anything too crazy. Then in 3rd round area draft lamichael james(running back) from oregon for a pass threat out of backfield. In the 2nd round we can draft zebrie sanders a right tackle that is solid and has played right tackle in college before. Why you like Pierre Garcon so much is confusing. He is fools gold receiver. Indianapolis played from behind all year, they doubled reggie wayne and dallas clark every play, and austin collie was hurt all year so if he was playing subtract 20 catches from garcon. I am not saying he is terrible but he is not an impact player.

  • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

    Jackson worries me because:

    In his last 27 games, he has only four 100-yard receiving games

    In his last 22 games, he has only four touchdown catches

    This season, he had only three red zone catches

    Plus, he was a royal pain while playing for a new contract this year; what’s he going to be like once someone pays him?

  • http://twitter.com/lilOUmikey Michael Tricarichi

    Craig, I think you also want to add that there are two other determining factors based on the past 2 free agencies. Heckert signs/trades for 2 different types of players based previous experience:

    1) A Super Bowl winning team (Watson, Fujita, Young, B. Jackson)
    2) Past experiences with coaches/front office (Seneca, Patterson, Gocong, Greco)

    That is why I think a WR acquisition of Manningham or Meachum makes complete sense and wouldn’t be surprised if guys like Chris Chamberlin could be brought in for depth. 

  • Anonymous

    Why he worries you is why I want him so badly. We get to buy low because Andy Reid does not know how to use receivers. His best receiver is normally his running back and michael vick is not a good pocket quarterback. Ironic that from the time vick took over he has gone down hill. Desean Jackson is a top 5 play making receiver in the league without question and we get him for probably what the 14th-18th best receiver would be payed. Their are red flags about everyone but the talent is there. The reason why he was getting mad is because philly shrunk his role to make him not worth as much in market as what he should. Let me ask you a question if you lost 15 million dollars because a team used you as a decoy would you get mad. Heckert knows if he is a punk or just mad because how philly treated him. I trust his judgement on this one because heckert definitely knows.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_I6423N7UCT3SVURBC55JGXFYAU Bobby

    I agree with this sentiment. I think free agency should be a last piece type fill in. You cannot go sign 3+ people that you expect to start and think you have a legitimate SB shot. It just does not consistently happen.

  • Jason

    Not looking for a quick fix, or an easy one. My point was they have serious needs at all the skill positions at offense. By my count, that’s at least 4 players (2 WR, QB, RB). The G and RT situation is unsettled, and TE might be up in the air with Watson’s concussions and Moore’s blocking. I’m simply pointing out there are some good players available and we have 20 million in cap space.
    I don’t think FA solves all, but considering the dearth of talent the Browns have (which I think we all can agree on) even if you hit 100% of picks rounds 1-7, you’re still looking at 2-3 years of development. I think it’s just as foolhardy to think the draft solves all. As decent as Heckert’s drafts have been so far, what’s his percentage of hits and misses?

  • http://www.redright88.com/ TitusPullo94

     Agree that Heckert should have a good read on him, but I think Jackson wants No. 1 receiver money and not sure the Browns will be willing to pay that.

  • Anonymous

    meachem has chronic pain in his ankle since he was a kid. Also washington is going after him. Manningham is a terrible route runner. Look at how well victor cruz excelled in the position manningham played last year. Either guy would probably help us because we can’t get any worse but these guys are not the answer.

  • Brownstowner

    Is the addition of either Garcon or Fast Eddie Royal at WR and either a Cliff Avril or Robert Mathis really that much to ask of this team?

  • Anonymous

    look at the OL and LB lists and you may be thinking differently.

  • steve-o

    Great idea, let’s repeat the winning formula from last year. Does anyone think if we had drafted Mario Williams that we would not have already re-signed him? What is the difference between re-signing one of our better players vs obataining a very good player from a team that has cap issues? That is afterall the primary motivation for the cap in the first place – so bad teams could obtain good players from better teams in order to improve. We have cap space and very few good players left to re-sign. Why not use this to our advantage?

  • Sjfgator

    The Browns can’t afford to go without getting a free agent that can contribute. Last year was an embarrasment to watch. Especially at wide receiver and right tackle.

  • Poppawolf

    I agree, we need to get a couple of FA’s this year, QB,WR or DE.

  • bleedinbrowns

    I think Jackson deserves No. 1 receiver money and the browns should pay him. 2 players available in FA that deserve the money and the Browns should consider paying are mario Williams and Deshaun jackson. Both young and top 5 in the league for their position.

  • bleedinbrowns

    please no Manningham. What a waste. 3.2 receptions per game and 47 ypg career with Eli throwing to him. give me a break, this would be so very silly.

  • bleedinbrowns

    yes to all of the above. please excclude Kolb, Flynn and maaningham from the list

  • Anonymous

    Sign 4 Browns FA’s; Hillis, Phil Dawson, Dimitri Patterson and D’Quell Jackson, = 4 starters.

    Sign 3 Eagles: DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith (WR’s) & Mario Manningham (WR, Gieants). = 3  starters and No need to draft a WR.

    Sign Owen Schmidt, Eagles FB. (See ya later Owen Marecic) = 1 starter.

    Total of 9 starters.

    Sign Kevin Kolb to compete with McCoy at QB. (Who “wins out?”  The other is “waiting for their opportunity.”  No francise QB emerges?  Get that guy in 2012).

    Draft a DE; 2 LB’s. a RT; a TE, RB; CB & S and a TALL WR. = 9 players 2-4 starters.

    Trade down 2-4 slots in the draft, pick up another 1 or 2 picks in 2012 AND a 1st round additional choice in 2013.

    RESULTS: 
    -A Defense that can compete with ANY team’s offense.
    -An Offense with VARIETY.  Power run? 2 TE’s a FB and RB.  3rd & long?  5 WR’s OR 2 TE’s and 3 WR’s. 

    WHATEVER THE SITUATION CALLS FOR, WE GOT ‘EM !

    GET BETTER.  WAAAY BETTER.  GET your franchise QB in 2013 if needed &/or draft for QUALITY rather than quantity.  2012 is a UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY, HH&S,  DON’T FLUB IT ! ! !

    BUILD THE TEAM AND THEY WILL COME.

    Walter Hopewell

  • http://twitter.com/kyleoliver6 Kyle

    Why don’t we just stick with Colt? I’m not Sold on RG3 or any other Quarterback after him..Luck would be the only qb I would take in this draft class and we already know the Colts got him..So why not go after Justin Blackmon if we trade up to # 2 or stay at 4 and go with Richardson and maybe Kendall Wright will be still on the board at #22..I think we shouldnt go after a household name in free agency either..Unless we can get Desean Jackson or Reggie Wayne

  • http://twitter.com/kyleoliver6 Kyle

    oh and an offensive line…and better 3rd down and goal line play calling would be nice…