This is the time of year when the GMs in New England, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, and San Diego are usually figuring out how they are going to out-maneuver each other for the coming season.
While this annual ritual transpires, a new power is outmaneuvering them all.
That team is the Cleveland Browns. Their offense was one of the league's most productive last season, and with the addition of WR Donte Stallworth they promise to be on a par with the big boys in the AFC.
GM Phil Savage wisely re-signed the 6-foot-6 QB Derek Anderson to throw to the massive trio of Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow Jr., and Joe Jurevicius; 6'3", 6'4" and 6'5" respectively. Now he has added a speedy complement to that group in Stallworth.
This passing attack is complemented by the power running of the revitalized Jamal Lewis (1304 yds and 9 TDs in '07) giving them skill players that match up with any team in the NFL.
Their offensive line is solid, too. Veteran C Hank Fraley heads group that boasts G Eric Steinbach and T Joe Thomas. Wow.
Now for the bad news:
Head coach Romeo Crennel, a defensive guru from the Parcells/Belichick tree, does not have the talent on defense that he is normally accustomed to. The defense, ranked 30th overall, only recorded 28 sacks.
By comparison, the NY Giants led the league with 53.
It was imperative that they upgrade defensively by bringing in some defensive lineman. Savage has begun to address that. This week they traded their third and fifth round picks in April's draft to Detroit for Shaun Rogers. Today, Savage traded his second rounder to Green Bay for DT Corey Williams.
So in three days, the Browns addressed their most glaring needs.
But that doesn't mean the Browns will not make noise in 2008. They are currently 40-1 to win the Super Bowl.
Those odds are about to get shorter...