Cleveland Browns Offseason Dates and Preview

Samuel IngroAnalyst IJanuary 26, 2010

The start of the offseason is a few short weeks away, and with an entirely new front office, Cleveland is sure to be busy behind the scenes.

Hopefully by the end of this article, you'll have a solid grasp on the events taking place this offseason, as we start to get a better look at the 2010 Cleveland Browns lineup.

So mark your calendars now Browns fans, and get familiar with the dates and events coming up.

1. NFL Combine (Feb. 24 through March 2)

This is the week that athletes are invited to Indianapolis to be evaluated by NFL team's personnel directors. Upcoming prospects are pitted against each other in a series of drills meant to determine speed, agility, quickness, strength, and intelligence.

How prospects perform at the combine can ultimately affect their draft stock, reputation, image, and NFL salary. Often a player's measurables will boost his stock based on potential, rather than looking at simply his college body of work.

With entirely new scouting personnel installed in the Cleveland front office, this will be the first real test of its abilities and decision-making. The rankings at the combine will help GM Tom Heckert begin assembling his draft board for the upcoming 2010 NFL Draft.

2. Start of free agency (March 5)

March 5 is the first day of the NFL's free agency period when the contracts of current players expire, and they are then free to entertain offers from other teams.

If a player is an unrestricted free agent and his contract has not been picked up by his current team, then he is eligible to sign any contract of his choice.

If a player is a restricted free agent, the team he is signed with has the option to match any offer made by an opposing team, and the free agent must stay with his current team.

This day is the first day Cleveland fans will really get a look at the direction the team is moving, the basis for that being which type of players are targeted by the front office.

If they choose to pick up a certain positional player, it gives a solid idea on offensive and defensive schemes to be applied, and also a better idea of whom they will be selecting in the upcoming draft.

3. Annual NFL Meeting (March 21 through March 24)

Each year at the end of March, the NFL holds its annual team meeting. This is a chance for teams to come forward about concerns and issues regarding rules and league play. The recent meeting saw proposals for changes in the "force-out rule," face mask penalties, and instant replay usage on field goals.

One of the more important reasons for the meeting is the awarding of draft compensatory picks. Thirty-two picks are awarded to teams based on the value of players they previously lost to free agency. If a team lost more than it gained, it will receive a pick based on the player's value to his new team.

In free agency last season Cleveland picked up 13 players but allowed 21 to leave, including Sean Jones, Darnell Dinkins, Andra Davis, Jason Wright, and Joe Jurevicius.

4. Round One of the NFL Draft (April 22)

The single most exciting day of the offseason, round one of the NFL Draft. Round one is where most of the future superstars of the NFL are obtained. If you're a Cleveland fan, however, it may simply mean a lot of bad memories.

Since Cleveland came back in the league, the first round has been problematic to say the least.

Past picks include: Tim Couch, Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, William Green, Jeff Faine, Kellen Winslow II, Braylon Edwards, Kamerion Wimbley, Joe Thomas, Brady Quinn, and Alex Mack.

With new leadership and a new front office, every fan in the state of Ohio will be collectively holding their breath as the words, "With the seventh pick in the 2010 NFL draft, the Cleveland Browns select..." are spoken by Roger Goodell.

5. Rounds Two and Three of the NFL Draft (April 23)

Round two features a lot of talent for a better value, and Cleveland has arguably done better drafting in the second round than in the first, sadly enough.

Past picks include: Eric Wright, D'Qwell Jackson, Brodney Pool, Chaun Thompson, Quincy Morgan, Dennis Northcutt, Kevin Johnson, and Rahim Abdullah.

Round three typically features a lot of sleepers that were on the rise before the draft; often times this is the best value round. Low risk, high reward players are usually found here. If your name is Cleveland, though, you typically trade this round away.

Past picks include: Travis Wilson, Charlie Frye, Chris Crocker, Melvin Fowler, James Jackson, Travis Prentice, JaJuan Dawson, Daylon McCutcheon, and Marquis Smith.

6. Final Four rounds of the NFL Draft (April 24)

In the final four rounds teams draft for potential. Players with great measurables at the combine, underclassmen, and developmental prospects usually end up being selected in the lower rounds. A lot of the best players in the league slip under the radar and go in the later half of the draft.

Past pick highlights include: Ahtyba Rubin, Brandon McDonald, Jerome Harrison, Lawrence Vickers, Luke McCown, Ryan Pontbriand, and Andra Davis.

7. NFL Spring Meeting (May 24 through May 26)

Think of it as spring cleaning, it's the final meeting before teams head off to conclude their offseason business.

It's also the chance to vote on any final issues before the 2010 season. Last year's meeting included talk of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, voting on active roster increases, future Superbowl locations, and minor rule changes.


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