For the first time since the firing of former Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel and former GM Phil Savage, a beacon of hope is finally starting to shine in Cleveland—or at least it should be perceived as such.
I must admit, I joined the skeptics at the hasty hiring of Eric Mangini, especially since a new general manager was still to be found. However, recent activity—or lack thereof—in the front office is beginning to melt my cynicism.
This offseason is the time for Mangini and new Cleveland Browns GM George Kokinis to make a statement in regards to the current state of their roster, where they wish to take it and how they will take it there.
The new administration made a bold statement late last week by trading Kellen Winslow Jr. to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a second round draft pick for the 2009 Draft and a fifth round pick in 2010.
After the 2008 catastrophe, fans have been pointing fingers at the defense largely due to the fact that it failed to get into the backfield to put sufficient pressure on the opponent's quarterback. Yet the Browns D still managed to finish 16th in the NFL, while it has gone unnoticed by fans and the media that the offense finished next to last.
By trading Winslow, who may have been Cleveland's most reliable offensive playmaker, Mangini and Kokinis have publicly declared that the offense will undergo a much needed face lift.
Exactly how Cleveland plans on revamping the offense is purely speculative. In light of Houshmandzadeh going to Seattle, the Chiefs talking Aaron Curry and poor combine performances from the projected first round defensive backs, Michael Crabtree may just be too tempting to pass up in the first round, despite the foot injury. Brian Robiskie or Shonn Greene could also be taken in the second round of the draft (thanks to the Winslow trade) if the Browns decide to go defense in the first round.
Another encouraging sign is the lack of activity during free agency. For once, the Cleveland Browns are passing up the old guys with high price tags. I must admit, I was nervous when I heard that 29-year-old running back Derrick Ward was being considered, but thankfully he went with Tampa Bay. Read my lips: no old players!
One thing triggers alarms, though.
There is news that Mangini and Kokinis will not trade Derrek Anderson after all. Word has it that he will be kept and battle Brady Quinn for the starting job in the spring. Personally, I've always believed that Anderson's talent is not so much real as it is perceived as being real. It could be argued that the success of his 2007 season could be attributed by stellar performances by the receivers and not so much in his arm. I say trade him now while he's still worth something