Critics Aside, the Browns Have Improved

The first day of free agency in the NFL has come and gone and the Cleveland Browns made a big splash with three signings.

OLB Paul Kruger, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, was the first choice of the brown and orange.  A pass rushing linebacker who had seven sacks a year ago, Kruger had an impressive post-season with the Ravens last season.

The Browns also signed DE Desmond Bryant, a huge man, and another OLB Quentin Groves, who played for defensive coordinator Ray Horton last season with the Cardinals.

GM Mike Lombardi and president Joe Banner felt the defense needed some help for 2013, with input from Horton, and the Browns went out and signed two likely starters at linebacker, a weak position for Cleveland in 2012, and the type of defensive end you need in the 3-4 defense.

Yet, there are still people upset that the Browns did not address the quarterback position as of yet, and haven’t signed a cornerback to go with Joe Haden either.

It just shows that there are some people who like to complain about everything.

In the NFL, where there are no guaranteed contracts, if you have the room under the salary cap, there isn’t a big penalty if the player doesn’t work out.  And as everyone is very aware the Browns have a ton of money available under the cap.

That means that Lombardi and Banner basically picked up three players, all of whom are younger and appear to be talented, for nothing more than cash.  They didn’t have to give up any draft picks or players.  They just spent money.

How can anyone be upset with that?

This isn’t like baseball or basketball, where a bad contract can hamper an organization for many years, like the Indians with Travis Hafner’s deal.  The organization had plenty of money to spend, and they did so.

They filled needs with the two linebackers and getting Bryant replaces Frostee Rucker,  who was cut by the new regime since the end of the season.

And most football people felt the Browns had more needs on the defense.  They still could use another cornerback and another safety, and they still have the college draft to address those positions.

An added bonus to signing Kruger is that he leaves the Ravens, a divisional foe.  Improving your team while hurting a divisional rival is always a win-win.

None of these players are guys who are near the end of their careers either.

Kruger and Bryant are just 27 years old, and Groves is only 28.  They have plenty of years left in the NFL lives and fit in perfectly with the rest of the young Browns.  They will be able to grow with the young core of veterans with four years or less of experience.  Players such as Alex Mack, Joe Haden, Taylor, Greg Little and Jabaal Sheard.

In fact, right now Cleveland has only three players with 10 or more years in the NFL on the roster:  Sheldon Brown, Juqua Parker, and Phil Dawson.  And it is doubtful that any of them will be back this season, although it would be great if Dawson is still the team’s kicker.

Also, with the expected departures via free agency of TE Benjamin Watson, TE Alex Smith,  S Ray Ventrone, and the expected release of P Reggie Hodges, the Browns will not have a player over 30 years old on the roster.

That’s a young football team.

There is no question the Browns are a better team today than they were on Monday.  That’s progress, no matter how people want to say differently.

JD

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