August 1, 2014

Let Free Agency Commence!

What do the Browns have cooking today?

What do the Browns have cooking today?

I have no idea what the Browns will do with free agency this year, but I have some clear ideas about what I think they should and shouldn’t do. Despite the massive amount of money and the ever growing list of players available, I still think it’s a bad idea to build a team too much through free agency. This Browns team, despite their struggles of a year ago, is still a relatively young team and improving from a player experience level standpoint. My biggest preferences are for overpaying for continuity and continuing the Banner trend of grabbing guys in their 20′s as opposed to their 30′s.

So let’s start by going through some of the rumored players linked to the Browns.

I’ve read all the same things you have regarding the Browns and Matt Schaub and I’m not ready to overreact to that just yet. Schaub might be the next coming of Jake Delhomme, but unlike Delhomme, Schaub won’t be brought in to be the top of the depth chart. When the Browns brought in Delhomme, they had Seneca Wallace and drafted Colt McCoy. If the Browns bring in Matt Schaub, he’ll have to supplant Brian Hoyer, who despite all our questions, is a nearly unanimous pick among Browns fans to get the initial nod at quarterback for 2014.

As for safety, I still have a strong preference for the Browns to retain T.J. Ward. Continuity is underrated this time of year and Ward is a good player worthy of being brought back. I think the Browns have played this game wisely so far. The Browns tagged Alex Mack instead of Ward, largely because there might be some skepticism about the market that might develop for Ward’s services.

The Northeast Ohio Media Group reports that 11 teams are interested in the safety, which would indicate plenty of market for Ward’s services. At the same time, you have to wonder how much money he’ll end up being offered. I’m guessing – and I think the Browns were rightly guessing – that the actual amount that T.J. Ward ends up getting will be more modest than the franchise tag amount of $8.1 million. Ward had a great season in 2013 and he’s just 27 years old, but he’s not on that truly elite level yet. The league likely knows this and the Browns could very well end up keeping T.J. Ward by “overpaying” him, but just not at the franchise tag level.

Also at safety, the Browns are heavily linked to Donte Whitner. Dustin Fox reports that he’ll likely sign with the Browns when free agency opens for real, according to sources close to the player. It is hard to figure what that signing would mean for T.J. Ward. Does it eliminate him from consideration? Are the Browns in the mix at all for free safety Jairus Byrd who wants to be paid? I don’t know how it all pans out, but I like the talk. Byrd is 27, Ward is 27, and Donte Whitner is 28. I’m also a fan of Tashaun Gipson, Johnson Bademosi and eve newcomer Jordan Poyer who are currently on the Browns’ depth chart.

The biggest topic for me is Alex Mack. Obviously the Browns should be in the driver’s seat after placing the transition tag on him. That was before the talk of “poison pills” started yesterday because of statements by Mack’s agent. As Browns fans we know better than to rule out creative ways to become disappointed, but Pro Football Talk indicates that the new CBA ended these types of contract provisions. Obviously that doesn’t mean there isn’t some other loophole that a wily agent might be able to exploit. It just means in theory, the NFL has ruled against these kinds of things and the Browns should be able to match a deal if they want to match it.

There will be a lot more to talk about all day long, and I’ve gone on long enough, so let’s finish off with a flurry.

Karlos Dansby appears to be on the wrong side of 30 (he’ll turn 33 in November) but assuming the Browns put him on a deal that ends up only really acting like a two-year deal, I’m in favor of signing him.

Geoff Schwartz is my biggest desire in free agency. The Browns have missed having a real stud offensive guard since the days of Eric Steinbach. Schwartz is 27 years-old and putting him on the same line with his brother, Alex Mack and Joe Thomas seems like a really smart idea and a good use of free agency dollars.

Wide receiver? Running back? What? I really expect the Browns to not do too much with wide receiver in free agency. That doesn’t mean they won’t sign someone, but I don’t expect them to go gaga for Eric Decker. This draft is loaded with receivers and receivers are expensive pieces in free agency. Maybe Ray Farmer is finally the guy who will make drafting receivers and running backs look as easy as it’s supposed to be.

Free agency is upon us! We’ll know so much by tonight. Here’s to the Browns getting better today.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    turned on bull and fox. adam the bull thinks dansby = dqwell.
    dustin fox is a better man than i could ever be.

  • mgbode

    I agree that it is a win at both ILB spots. We could still go after a guy like Tarrell Brown for CB.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    trying to imagine who you’ve mixed up with quincy morgan .. josh gordon?

  • Hopwin

    Dansby to CLE:

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/03/11/report-karlos-dansby-browns-agree-on-four-year-deal/

    4 year $24M deal. $10M in year one with a total of $14M guaranteed. So sounds like it is intended to be a short-term deal in case his performance slips.

  • bupalos

    bwhwhwhwhhhaaaa. Indeed.

    I’m just going to ignore the haters and keep posting Bupalos Analysis*

    *as I remember, every time Quincy was asked about a drop he would make reference to the need to keep playing “Quincy Morgan Football”

  • mgbode

    pretty sure I would sign for the minimum and I could replace O’Neil Cousins and noone would notice (I can get knocked backwards into the QB/RB just as easily as he can).

  • RGB

    That’s why I think we can significantly improve our guards without paying premium prices.
    We don’t need to have the best guards. We just need to have better guards.

  • Hopwin

    Well fortunately we can divide Josh Gordon’s compensation into “Cash” and “Clean non-pregnant female urine” for drug testing purposes. So really his compensation is tied more heavily to the market for that commodity.

  • bupalos

    Wonder what that deal looks like exactly. 14MM over the last 3 years with just 4 of that guaranteed would indeed give some flexibility. If that’s seriously 10 on the cap this year though, it starts to scale back my hopes for other positions.

  • bupalos

    Yeah we could always play cap games, but the chickens come home to roost eventually. Anything over 25 is borrowing in my book. Without a QB, I say neither a borrower nor a spender be.

    The cap going up is pretty much directly and immediately covered by salary inflation.

  • Hopwin

    Hey Craig,
    Your picture has the following settings: Off, Low, High and is that last one “Eleven”?

  • Hopwin

    Except with two actual pro bowls instead of alternate status…

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    holy crap, saffold got 21M guaranteed. 5yr/42.5M. that’s pretty wild.

  • mgbode

    and Oakland wants him to play LT? why not just re-sign Veldheer? is Al back?

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    seriously. even at left tackle money, his contract his is 5M more than eugene monroe.

  • mgbode

    and Atlanta gets Asamoah. was worried about OG’s as we haven’t been linked to any I have seen. if Schwartz stays in KC, then we are running out of options.

  • Pat Leonard

    Maybe Pettine and Shanahan have more faith in Gilkey than the previous regime? :-/ I don’t love the scraps at OG… starting to think they are going to look for a starting RT or OG in the draft.

  • mgbode

    well, the OG in FA I still like are Schwartz and Rinehart. After them, yeah, not much. So, we’ll see what happens.

    definitely should draft an OG/OT regardless.

  • mgbode

    Giants sign brother Schwartz :(

  • mgbode

    Who’s left?

    RB Donald Brown & Knowshon Moreno
    S Chris Clemons & Jarius Byrd
    CB Tarrell Brown
    OG Rinehart
    OLB Mike Neal
    ILB Moats or Daryl Smith

    My goodness the list of guys I wanted sure disappeared quickly.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    willie colon and/or draft.

  • saggy

    I don’t have anything scientific here but I watched Edelman run some nasty routes in New England. I’d like to see how many of his drops were because of him getting crushed by an LB over the middle instead of just dropping the ball. He was asked to do a lot since NE had nobody else who could catch the ball.

  • saggy

    we all probably thought so. but that’s not the case

    Ward – $5.5mil
    Whitner – $7mil

  • saggy

    No Ben Tate?

  • saggy

    probably a little easier. but not much.

  • mgbode

    too expensive for RB IMO. he wants more than those guys above (and we can now cross off Rinehart & Donald Brown too).

    if the price comes down, then sure.

  • Pat Leonard

    I was going to make that comment, but i’m 16 hours too late. Looks like Rinehart is the only guard you like who is still on the table.

  • mgbode

    nope. he re-signed in SD :(

  • Pat Leonard

    Ohhhhh, a-drafting we will go, a-drafting we will go!

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    he really did take a lot of punishment. i actually think it contributed to some drops. also took off some of the brady luster for me.

    anyway, worst case, those drops get his price down and we get a solid slot guy because i do think he’s solid. (just like sanders more.)

  • RGB

    Ummm, Ray, buddy…guards?

  • Pat Leonard

    Looks like he’s going to address this in the draft.

  • RGB

    Going to take more than the draft…
    http://media1.giphy.com/media/54PaD9dWT0go/giphy.gif

  • mgbode

    Can I interest you in a 2yr deal for Wharton? That 2nd year might be a waste, but it’s the only way we likely get him as a stop-gap.

    Colon is still out there as well, but man his body is betraying him now.

    And, that is all that is left for even guys that MIGHT be able to help IMO.

  • RGB

    Ugh, I can’t believe we wiffed on every good guard.
    EDIT: Not wiffed…struck out looking.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    now that we broke the seal on FA signings of the 30+ crowd…

  • mgbode

    not sure I’d trust him to guard the bathroom door at this stage of his career

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    ah!!

  • Guest

    No worries…the Jets signed him.