According to a report from Mary Kay Cabot, the Browns did make some form of an attempt to lure Pierre Garcon to Cleveland. As we all know, Pierre Garcon ended up the same place the second pick in the NFL draft ended up. Also, as we’ve discussed ad nauseum, it has been a bit frustrating for Browns fans to see their 4-12 team “sit idly by” as the top players in free agency get snapped up. But let’s get down to facts. Pierre Garcon is in Washington because they overpaid to get him there. Pierre Garcon is overpaid because his stats don’t justify the money he was paid.
Could Pierre Garcon break out and become worth every penny that the ‘Skins are scheduled to pay him over the next five years? Sure, but it isn’t likely. First, let’s look at Garcon’s stats. Garcon was 27th in the league in receiving yards in 2011. It was a career high for a horrible Colts team missing Peyton Manning. Garcon was playing opposite Reggie Wayne who was suffocated all year long by opposing defenses. Even still, Reggie Wayne carried the load with his 960 yards and 75 catches. Garcon kept pace pretty well with 70 catches for 947 yards and beat Wayne out for touchdowns 6 to 4.
Garcon could thrive in Washington with presumed new quarterback Robert Griffin III extending plays and tossing bombs over the top to the speedy receiver. Certainly if the Browns landed those two, that’s what I’d be pitching as the best-case scenario. At the same time, you don’t really want to put all your eggs in a best-case scenario with a career #2 receiver and even the best rookie QB prospect because of the money the Redskins will have to pay Pierre Garcon.
The Redskins gave him an $11 million signing bonus which will count $2.2 million against the cap per year over the life of the deal. The contract will look something like this from a cap perspective. Keep in mind there could be some other bonuses or incentives that I am not showing here.
Now, again, maybe Pierre Garcon will earn every penny of that deal. The Redskins will have a decision to make before the 2014 season whether or not Garcon is worth keeping on. They will either keep him at a cap number of $9.3 million or they will cut him at a cap number of $6.6 million to save $2.7 million. The 2014 cap number is expected to jump because of the timing of NFL TV deals too, but it still seems like a big financial risk.
It is so easy to say that it would be worth the risk because Garcon is still better than any receiver the Browns have had playing for them since 1999 in all likelihood. My eyes opened wide just typing that last sentence because short of Kevin Johnson and one season of Braylon Edwards it isn’t even a question. Despite those kinds of realizations, it doesn’t make overpaying Pierre Garcon a good idea.
The fact is, right or wrong, the Browns didn’t know just how bad their receivers were going into last year with Pat Shurmur’s first year at the helm. They all but admitted that giant mistake when they cut Brian Robiskie mid-season, but by then it was too late. No excuse this year though. Tom Heckert has only drafted two wide receivers in his first two years with the Browns between 2nd rounder Greg Little and 6th rounder Carlton Mitchell.
Even if the Browns were smart not to overpay Garcon, this is the year where the Browns must draft a receiver or two. Greg Little dropped some passes his rookie year, but if you project him to take even a marginal step forward, he’ll be putting up numbers comparable to what Garcon did a year ago in expanding on 61 catches for 709 yards and two touchdowns.
It is the only way the Browns can absolve themselves to the fans for not overpaying in free agency for known entities. Your move, Tom Heckert.