"Any fool can have bad luck; the art consists in knowing how to exploit it."- Frank Wedekind
Ask Browns fans about their free-agency experience under the Lerner family, and the response ranges from disbelief at the sheer bad luck—LeCharles Bentley and Gary Baxter's career-ending patellar tendon injuries—to well-founded frustration with repeated ill-advised attempts to find a short cut to 10 wins with an aging "named" quarterback.
See: Garcia, Jeff, Dilfer, Trent, Delhomme, Jake. The Browns can either sink the next two years into a young quarterback, Colt McCoy or otherwise, or unavoidably overpay an aging veteran in desperate hopes their reputation improves the team around them.
According to the Plain Dealer, GM Tom Heckert hinted Thursday that the Browns will behave conservatively this year during free agency—a prospect which must relieve bust-weary Dawg Pounders.
Like the quarterback position itself, the Browns' failures in free agency largely originate from a psychology resembling an inferiority complex. The fateful side effects result in distorted perception for fans and front office alike, leading to dubious late-career acquisitions based on name recognition, or at the least experience, in hopes either will preclude legitimacy.
The 1999 Cleveland Browns were 26 years old on average—middle of the pack for the Central Division that season. "Experience," and "value," often carry dubiously similar weight in a league that stands for "Not For Long." That misconception has cost the Browns years in development from Carmen Policy and Dwight Clark's "Forty-Browners," to Eric Mangini's paleo-New York Jets. In 1999, this franchise was founded on building off a mediocre twenty-nine year old running back, Terry Kirby. That reality foreshadowed the Browns' futility for the coming decade.
A conservative, concentrated effort could produce a young, quality free-agency class, even if it consists of only one or two players.
- Wide Receiver
- Outside Linebacker
This list considers existing pieces, potential draft picks and the predominant rumors as of March 9th, 2012.
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