The Cleveland Browns were busy the first weekend of free agency with the addition of Scott Fujita and Tony Pashos.
With these latest moves, coupled with the six tenders to restricted free agents, the Browns are entering the draft from a position of strength.
Right tackle was a weak point for the Browns last year, but Pashos now fills that gap, meaning it won’t have to be addressed with a high pick in the draft.
Pashos reportedly signed a three-year, $10.3 million deal. At age 29, he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank to play well through all three years of that contract and will be a major upgrade to the right side of the line, which appeared to have the consistency of runny jello at the beginning of the 2009 season.
Fujita is the big signing, though.
Fresh off of his Super Bowl win in New Orleans, he has 19 career sacks in five seasons and five interceptions. Fujita is a significant upgrade to the Browns line.
These signings better position the Browns to focus on their secondary in the early round of the draft because right tackle was a concern.
Pashos only missed one game in his first three seasons prior to last year’s injury.
The Williams trade can only be seen as a solid move. His stats weren’t mind-blowing, but the Browns essentially upgraded a seventh round pick to a fifth round pick. This was a smart move that looks to the future.
The fates of the Browns six restricted free agents given second round tenders remains up in the air as of this writing, but the Browns president Mike Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert have set the tone for the coming year.
The Browns have quietly become one of the more aggressive teams this offseason by making the smartest moves instead of the flashiest ones.
Special teams standout Joshua Cribbs was signed on Cleveland’s terms and on their timetable despite agent interference. The six restricted free agents were given second round tenders, which either keeps them here at affordable rates, or gives the Browns additional second round picks.
None of the free agents signed got more than three years, and none of the contracts were exorbitant, as in the case of the Chicago Bears and Julius Peppers. With the possibility of a lockout in 2011, the Browns are making no ridiculous moves that could hurt the team down the road.
The only question remaining as the Browns head into next month’s draft is what they’re going to do at quarterback. There are rumors the Browns are looking at bringing in somebody through free agency, but at this point, that’s all they are—rumors.
One potential free agent quarterback, David Carr, signed with San Francisco on Sunday, so that’s one less option for the Browns to consider.
The team’s biggest needs, other than stability at quarterback, are a “shutdown” corner and a quality safety.
With that in mind, expect Joe Haden to remain at the top of the Browns draft board.