The lockout is finally over!
Wow, it actually feels good to actually be saying that. This isn't a court ruling or some fluke, it's actually here. Just in time too, because the Browns especially need to get to camp so that the rookies can learn the playbook and the veterans can work under the tutelage of their new coaches.
Under the new CBA rules, the Browns are currently $33.3 million under the cap. However, teams must now spend 90 percent of the cap ($120 million) so, essentially, the Browns MUST spend $21 million this offseason, or be forced to give incentives to all of their players using a very complicated, no doubt screwy, mathematical formula.
While there are plenty of positions that the Browns need help with (namely defensive end and linebacker), one of the areas that may definitely need a boost is the receiving corps.
Last year's group of receivers didn't accomplish much. This may primarily stem from the Mangini/Dabol playbook essentially using wide receivers as overqualified tight ends. However, even if this is true, how many times did Browns fans watch as Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie failed to create separation.
Robiskie began to catch on (unintended) at the end of the season, and actually managed to show a glimpse of what he might look like this season (we can only hope). Rookie Greg Little and little-used Carlton Mitchell may be able to thrive and bolster the unit as a whole, but it shouldn't be relied upon.
Which Free Agent Should the Browns Pursure?
When interviewed this morning about free agency on Cleveland Browns Daily radio program, team president Mike Holmgren had this to say:
"Certain positions I think are fairly obvious that we're probably going to look at a little stronger than others," Holmgren explained. "The wide receiver position is a position we're going to look at, [and] we're going to look at some defensive linemen, even though we drafted a couple."
While it's far from "compelling evidence" it kind of sums up nicely what Holmgren's true thoughts on the receivers are. He stated openly that he liked the receiving unit, but then used a high draft pick on Little and had this to say this morning.
I think this is a strong hint towards the front office wanting to acquire a legitimate veteran No. 1 receiver on a team that sorely lacks one.
Knowing Holmgren, and taking to heart his desire to "not go crazy" in free agency, I don't think the chances of acquiring any of those players is very likely, but any or all of those guys are qualified at the very least for the jobs.
Whoever, the Browns end up with, going into the preseason with two unproven veterans (Massaquoi and Robiskie) and an even less proven rookie (Little) is far from appealing. Look for the Browns to get at least one veteran receiver once Friday rolls around.