5 Moves the Cleveland Browns Will Regret Not Making This Offseason
The fans and media spend countless hours each offseason analyzing the moves that their team makes. But what about the moves it did not make? Oftentimes, the moves that are not made are the best ones. On other occasions, the moves that a team fails to make can come back to bite it.
The Cleveland Browns were very busy this offseason signing players and trying to strengthen their roster. There wasn’t an abundance of moves that they missed out on, but there were certainly a few.
Sometimes, those moves don’t involve actual players, either. They could be a change in personnel, timing of decisions or how the team chose to approach a certain situation.
Let’s take a look at five moves the Browns will regret not making this offseason.
Not Trading for Darrelle Revis
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers started shopping cornerback Darrelle Revis this offseason, the Browns were right in the mix. With the Bucs knowing that they would have to release the 28-year-old, five-time Pro Bowler if a trade was not made, time was of the essence.
Everyone, including the Browns, swung and missed on the opportunity to trade for Revis. He was eventually released and signed with the New England Patriots.
The Browns didn’t trade for Revis not because of the pick they would have had to send in return but because of the money he would have commanded. He was due $16 million per year over the life of his contract.
The Browns could have easily eaten that salary for the first season and then made a decision whether or not to keep him long term or release him. The Browns already have a shutdown corner in Joe Haden and had zero chance of pairing him with Revis if he hit the open market.
The opportunity to acquire that type of talent does not present itself every season. The Browns should have pulled the trigger.
Not Giving T.J. Ward the Franchise Tag
Let me start by saying that if the Browns were going to let safety T.J. Ward walk in free agency, then they did not lose a step in the short term by signing Donte Whitner. The issue, however, is what happens three years down the road.
It would have been a gamble to place the franchise tag on Ward and see if he could play at a similar level to 2013. But the reward, had he proved that he could, would have heavily outweighed the risk.
So now the Browns have Whitner, who is almost the same age as Ward (28 and 27, respectively), but entering his ninth season in the NFL. At what point will his body break down?
Ward was entering his fourth season as a pro and finally seemed to hit his stride. It is not as if Whitner is a huge upgrade over Ward, either. In fact, they are almost mirror images of each other as players.
Had the Browns placed the tag on Ward, it would have also helped them avoid the current situation with center Alex Mack. They placed the transition tag on Mack, and he has still not signed.
Mack recently had a visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars and reportedly could receive an offer soon. But as ProFootballTalk reported on Sunday, the Browns would match the $22 million hypothetical offer.
No matter which way you slice it, Mack does not seem to want to stay in Cleveland, and the Browns are going to have to overpay him. It does not seem worth all the trouble for a position that has diminishing value in the modern NFL.
Not Signing Jon Asamoah
The Atlanta Falcons got one of the steals of free agency when they signed guard Jon Asamoah to a five-year deal worth $4.5 million per season. The Browns should have been in those sweepstakes.
They have serious issues at the guard position, and while they signed Paul McQuistan from the Seattle Seahawks, they still need more help. McQuistan can possibly start for the Browns next season. Asamoah would have definitely started for them for the next five years if healthy.
He is just 25 years old and already regarded as one of the better guards in the NFL. He is athletic and agile, which would have fit perfectly in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme.
Asamoah took less money to sign with the Falcons, so it might have taken some serious convincing to get him to come to Cleveland. The sell job would have been worth it, however, as he will be a key part of the Falcons line for the next half-decade. The Browns, on the other hand, will probably have to draft another guard in May.
Not Going to the Big Pro Days
The Browns made news this offseason by being noticeably absent at most of the major pro-day workouts. General manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine were not present for the highly publicized workouts of the quarterbacks projected near the top of the draft and defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney.
Now, as Vic Carucci of ClevelandBrowns.com correctly points out, the Browns did have representatives at every pro day. They just were not always the head honchos.
He is also correct in pointing out that pro days are essentially meaningless to attend these days. The Browns not only receive tape of the workouts but also get to hold private sessions with these players.
Unfortunately, the court of public opinion does not think in rational terms.
The Browns front office can claim that public relations and outside opinion do not matter to it, but they do. Owner Jimmy Haslam was vocal with his displeasure about how the team was portrayed during its head coaching search.
Will missing those pro days hurt the Browns? No, it certainly will not. But if they select a player who does not pan out, it will be another target for fans and media to throw daggers at.
In some cities, the team can ignore the ire from the outside. In Cleveland, the team will always have to be cognizant of how it is portrayed until it earns some good will by winning football games.
Fire Lombardi and Banner Sooner
This seems like a no-brainer, but the Browns should have fired former team CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi as soon as the offseason began. Instead, Jimmy Haslam allowed them to string out a very public and ugly coaching search for over a month and then cut them loose.
In the meantime, then-Browns assistant GM Ray Farmer was interviewing with the Miami Dolphins and not part of the interviews held with potential coaching candidates.
While Pettine seems like a good hire, Farmer did not leave (promoted to GM), and the organization seems to be on the same page now; what happens when the waters get rough?
Does this not give a perfect excuse for Farmer to change coaches again? Pettine certainly was not his choice because he was not even a part of the process. He still has not picked his head coach.
If everything works out and the Browns start to turn things around, then this will just be a footnote in the team’s history. If they do not start to change for the better, then it will be justifiable to start asking questions about the decision-making of the owner for the first time in his tenure.