However, after a quality draft in 2012 and core players that have this team headed in the right direction, the Browns are as close as they've been in quite some time at actually making a push at legitimacy.
Current Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Mike Wallace signing with the team would cement that theory.
According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Browns have around $30 million in cap space and aim at being big spenders this offseason—namely for Wallace and Baltimore Ravens defensive lineman Paul Kruger.
Here's what La Canfora had to say about Cleveland's big plan to snatch players from its division rivals:
Many in the Steelers organization believe Wallace will end up with their division rivals in Cleveland (Haslam was a former minority owner of the Steelers), and the Browns could make a play for a pass rusher like Kruger, too.
If the Browns could make a push for Wallace, it would represent a significant upgrade on the outside in Cleveland and could even push this offense to the brink of relevance.
Rob Chudzinski is the new head coach of the Browns. The last time the offense finished in the top 10 of total yards or points was in 2007—his first year as the offensive coordinator with the team. Since then, he has established himself as an offensive mind that knows how to get the best out of his players with the Carolina Panthers.
With Wallace on board, the young WR's potential might finally be met.
The 26-year-old has been mostly a burner during his first four seasons, beating AFC cornerbacks with ease with his blazing speed on the outside. While his speed is clearly his biggest asset, drops and lack of focus have been his biggest weaknesses, and both were on display with the Steelers in 2012.
Still, he has accumulated over 4,000 yards receiving, scored 32 career touchdowns and averages 17.2 yards per reception in his NFL career.
If you're the Browns, what kind of contract do you give Wallace?
Along with Josh Gordon and Greg Little, the Browns would suddenly have all the pieces necessary to build a spread offense around QB Brandon Weeden and RB Trent Richardson. Wallace would force defenses to send safety help over the top and Gordon showed down the stretch in 2012 that he needs to be game-planned for, too.
In all honesty, the franchise would be a tight end away from boasting a complete lineup for years to come—one that could grow together as the new regime takes hold in Cleveland.
Aside from creating mismatches all over the field, stealing Wallace from a division rival would be a good morale boost for the Browns—especially considering that this team is a decade removed from postseason competition and three of the last eight Super Bowl champions are from the AFC North (Pittsburgh twice, Baltimore).
It's not a sure thing, but with a ton of cap room to spend and Wallace already a year removed from a contract dispute in Pittsburgh, it seems like only a matter of time until he is picking out a new color scheme and number for the 2013 season.
Hopefully for the Browns, those colors are orange and brown.