July 24, 2014

What should the Browns do with Greg Little?

Greg Little FilteredAs we make our way through the off-season and think about various positions on the roster, nobody’s position might be stranger than Greg Little’s. Little is a good guy with very good physical attributes. He’s a receiver who “flashes” on occasion, but then disappears for long stretches when he isn’t dropping passes. Despite some mostly meaningless traffic incidents that served to bring him a bit of negative attention, he largely does and says all the right things. He works as hard as he can whether it’s extra time catching passes or learning hand-fighting techniques of defensive linemen in the pre-season. Greg Little is, in many ways, exactly what you want a young player to be and yet, he was rumored to be a guy that Browns brass wanted Rob Chudzinski to cut to send a message. Chud is gone of course, but for now Greg Little is still here.

If you were to poll Browns fans and ask them if Greg Little should be cut from the team, I bet the vote would be 50/50. I can’t even tell you what I would say, personally. After his third year, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s not a number two wide receiver, let alone a number one. I know for a fact that he’s not a guy I want returning kickoffs either. By the way, despite that infuriating chapter of the 2013 Browns season, Little averaged 21.57 yards per return in seven attempts. I would have bet it was nowhere near that good an average. And that’s kind of instructive for Greg Little’s entire career.

When you spend a season watching Little, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but he hasn’t been entirely unproductive. He’s a third-year player, only 24-years-old set to cost the Browns just over $1 million on their cap for 2014. He’s been wildly inconsistent and his reputation is for dropping passes, but consider this. Pro Football Focus reports that he only dropped three passes from week six going forward to the end of the year. While certainly not the norm, he’s exploded for big games a couple times in his career including a 122 yard game in the November victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Greg Little Likes to DanceIt’s especially hard to figure out what to say about Little considering the Browns don’t even have an offensive coordinator yet, but I see little reason to cut him ahead of training camp. The Browns had a breakout season from Josh Gordon, who must keep his nose clean this (and every subsequent) off-season. They hopefully have Travis Benjamin back and ready from his October ACL tear. After that, the Browns currently have Josh Cooper and Brian Tyms. (You can read all you want about Davone Bess, but we don’t need to talk about him again, I don’t think.) From a reserve / future standpoint, the Browns have Tori Gurley and a 23-year-old former Duke player named Conner Vernon. They’ll obviously need to address the position either in the draft or free agency this off-season.

While I wouldn’t recommend the Browns count on Greg Little to become a viable second receiver after failing to do so in 2013, I think there’s plenty of reason to bring him to camp to compete for a roster spot this August. I wouldn’t necessarily bet on Greg Little to win that roster spot, but I think I also tend to agree with Rob Chudzinski’s instincts that cutting Greg Little wasn’t the right thing to do. Yes, this is a results-based league and guys who can’t produce must eventually sit on the bench and / or get cut loose. But in the midst of an already challenging season where a first-year head coach is trying to keep his team together, it seems ludicrous to make an example of a guy who by all accounts I’ve seen and heard was doing everything he possibly do to get better and help his team.

As we wait to see who will be designing this offense and helping shape the roster to run it, I imagine nobody’s wait is more difficult than Greg Little’s. As moves get made in free agency and in the draft, I hope it gets even more competitive for Little heading into his free agent season. I hope the Browns make it very competitive and difficult for Little to earn his spot on the 2014 Browns. But in the end, I’d give him the opportunity to come in and compete.

On the bright side, if he does find a way to win a job, I’m guessing he can have the number 15 back.

  • Kildawg

    My bad, must have got it confused with a word similar to a lot (because it is overused after all).

  • Natedawg86

    Hoyer > or = Cousins

  • Natedawg86

    I don’t think he would go for that

  • Toddyus

    The answer may be more political than anything. Pettine has made it pretty clear that he’s not going to stroke these guys’ egos. You perform, you play. You don’t perform, you sit.

    But, perhaps more importantly, Little is a marked man by the front office. For him to stay, Pettine needs to stick his neck out for the guy and if I’m Pettine, I’m not sure Little’s the battle I want to risk losing the war for. That may be his demise sooner than anything.

    The only counterargument to this that I can think of lies with Banner. Banner likes to get value. If Pettine can coach Little up in the offseason/pre-season, Banner might be able to barter him for a late round pick. That would be the compromise that indemnifies Pettine for holding on to Little. If in the process, Little breaks out, then it’s all bonus and you keep him.

    Remember, $1MM cap space is not a big deal, but a roster spot is.

  • John Sturm

    What do they say about DBs? If they could catch the ball they would be a receiver. Little has been a brutal blocker since he was signed. That shows that he isn’t afraid of contact. So convert him to a DB. He’s got the speed, He’s tall, and he can get vertical. Better than cutting him.

  • Big Z

    On that subject, what is it with the Browns and 2nd round picks? 9 out of 10 times they turn out to be duds.

  • the_spivack

    why not try to bring him along as a CB? he wouldn’t need to catch passes then

  • Kildawg

    But that other 1 out of 10 turns into guys like D’Qwell Jackson and Josh Gordon. Jury still out on Mitchell Schwartz.

  • mgbode

    kevin johnson

  • RGB

    Jabaal Sheard, TJ Ward, Michael Dean Perry, Webster Slaughter.

  • gene

    Make Him a running back.

  • gene

    make him a running back

  • Root4Cleveland

    I can sum up my thoughts in a single point: of the (6) wideouts mentioned (not named Davon Bess)Greg Little – for all his faults – is the third best receiver and best downfield blocker. And you say he’s costing $1M? Keep him.

  • John

    Cut his a$$ and let him figure out how good he had it and then just let him drop off the face of the earth…who cares

  • Jaker

    What about the WR we signed from GB? The one that caused all the fuss when he was injured and we picked him up anyway?

  • BallsMahoney

    little was recruited to NC as a WR and played 1 season of RB to get him on the field because of all the wrs they had hes a wr