Now that the football season is over, with a mixed bag of emotions (unhappy that the Ravens hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but thrilled Art Modell is not going to be enshrined in Canton this year). It is time to start looking ahead to the next few months, meaning the free agent period and the NFL draft.
By the way, does Jim Nantz think the Lombardi Trophy is named for Michael?
There are still many Browns fans unhappy with the choice of Rob Chudzinski as head coach, and even more disconsolate over owner Jimmy Haslam III’s remark over during Super Bowl week that it is unlikely his team will make a big “splash” in free agency.
Supporters of the brown and orange want results and want them as soon as possible, and we are no different.
However, to be sure, it is better to have results than glamor.
While we don’t know yet if Chudzinski is the right man for the job, and we won’t know until the games start for real in September, there is a large population of ticket buyers who are upset that Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher didn’t take the gig. Put aside for a moment that neither man expressed any real interest in returning to the sideline.
They wanted a “big name”, an attention grab. That’s because we are so insecure about our teams. It lends credibility to the Browns and the city if a man who has talked about the game on a network for the last few years is the head coach.
The same goes for free agency. Think about last year at this time, two of the bigger names on the market were Packers’ reserve QB Matt Flynn, who signed with Seattle, and Texans’ DE Mario Williams, who signed a huge deal with Buffalo.
How did those moves work out?
Flynn went to the playoffs, but watched on the sidelines while rookie third round pick Russell Wilson started for the Seahawks. Today, you can get Flynn in a trade for a lower round pick or if and when Pete Carroll lets him go.
Williams had an okay year with 10.5 sacks, but he didn’t turn the Buffalo defense into a dominating unit, as they ranked 22nd in yards allowed, and 26th in points allowed.
This isn’t to say no big name free agent is worth the effort. Certainly, Green Bay wouldn’t have won its Super Bowl in 1996 without signing the late Reggie White as a free agent. But guys like that are few and far between.
It also isn’t to say the Browns shouldn’t sign any free agents this off-season. If the Ravens decide to make WR Anquan Boldin an unrestricted free agent this spring, he’s a guy who would provide excellent hands as a wide out and serve as a mentor to Josh Gordon and Greg Little.
This team is in desperate need of leaders. They don’t have many veterans on the roster, especially since guys like Sheldon Brown and Ben Watson likely will not be back in 2013.
Also, the Browns need some older players who have experienced winning, something the young guys have certainly never experienced. There is a lot of sentiment that Chudzinski’s team simply doesn’t know how to win, and they need someone to show them the way.
Those are the types of players this team needs to bring in, and with room under the salary cap, they have the cash to bring in a few winners. Spending big cash on a player past his prime, or doesn’t fit the system used by Norv Turner and/or Ray Horton isn’t the way to go.
Rather than making headlines, the Cleveland Browns need to make victories.