After the Cleveland Browns pared their roster to 53 players on Saturday night, coach Rob Chudzinski said it would be a “fluid situation”. Everyone figured there would be changes, especially because they had no place kicker on the team.
No one could see a major overhaul coming the following day, but Michael Lombardi and his staff claimed six free agents and let six of the so-called final 53 go.
There were howls from many Browns fans, several of them commenting that it was proof of the lack of talent on the squad, supporting their woe is me mentality (taken from former GM Phil Savage), and preparing themselves for another horrible season.
To us, it was no big deal.
This is not to say the Browns are going to go 11-5 and win the AFC North in 2013, but we do feel this team will be improved as the young talent accumulated in the past few years will continue to improve and a more experienced coaching staff will put the players in positions where they can succeed.
As for the roster shake up, it is not like any of the six players signed yesterday are coming in to start for Chudzinski’s team, but they were acquired to provide depth, something the Browns don’t have yet in several positions.
For instance, at running back, the injuries to Montario Hardesty and Dion Lewis caused Cleveland to have only Brandon Jackson, unimpressive in the preseason, to back up Trent Richardson.
So they went out and signed two backs who were similar to Lewis, a change of pace speed back, in Bobby Rainey (from Ravens) and Dennis Jackson (from Texans). They are on the roster to be third down backs and return kickoffs, both jobs that Lewis looked to be in position to handle.
They also swapped out tight ends, letting Kellen Davis and Brad Smelley go, and replacing them with MarQueis Gray (49ers) and Keavon Milton (Saints). The top two tight ends on the depth chart, Jordan Cameron and Gary Barnidge remain unchanged.
It shouldn’t be a huge deal to change the third and fourth tight ends on your roster.
They also exchanged LB L.J. Fort, who made the team as an undrafted free agent a year ago for rookie Brandon Magee, who was cut by the Cowboys, and signed C Patrick Lewis (Packers) and released two other offensive linemen who were undrafted free agents in Jerrod Shaw and Caylin Hauptmann.
While letting Fort go was a bit of a surprise, Lombardi just picked up Eric Martin from New Orleans as well, and the Browns felt Tank Carder was ahead of Fort.
Most of these changes were probably done with special teams implications in mind, as the coaching staff felt those units needed an upgrade. There is nothing wrong with that.
Neither is there anything wrong with trying to incrementally improving the football team. If you see a young player out there who is better than the young player you currently have, why not add them to the roster.
Again, it is not like the front office released a high draft choice to sign someone who was cut on Saturday.
And more changes are coming because the Browns still need to find someone to handle the kicking duties this Sunday against the Dolphins.
If Joe Banner, Michael Lombardi, and Chudzinski feel they can make the team better, even slightly, by picking up players cut by other teams, then why shouldn’t they.
After all, that’s their job.