Since the NFL calendar year started a week ago, the Cleveland Browns have once again become the butt of jokes in the national media because five of their six free agents have left the team.
Included in those five players are four starters, including Pro Bowl offensive lineman Alex Mack and RT Mitchell Schwartz.
In our eyes, the latter was the biggest and really only loss from a team that went 3-13 a year ago. Schwartz showed he was one of the best right tackles in the league, and he would have entered this season at 27 years old.
And apparently, according to some reports, he left because Sashi Brown and the new regime showed stubbornness in the negotiations, telling the lineman the offer they had made went away if he left the room.
While many football writers are hammering the Browns for losing the four players, although we would have kept Schwartz, we can see the front office’s thinking.
In losing the two starting lineman, you can be sure Hue Jackson’s team will be near the bottom of the NFL in running the ball and in protecting the passer.
Oh wait, that’s where Cleveland ranked in 2015 with Mack and Schwartz. So, how big of a loss is the duo?
It could be that the front office thinks there is a losing attitude within the entire roster and they are going to have to start from scratch to establish a winning culture.
If that’s true, then we can definitely see the Browns trading their All Pro left tackle, Joe Thomas, as well. We have often said that although Thomas is undoubtedly going to the Hall of Fame, he seems to accept defeat easily.
He doesn’t think losing is unacceptable, he thinks it just stinks. We always say that everyone likes winning, but we would rather have players who hate to lose.
We aren’t sure the Browns have enough players who have become sick of what has gone on here over the last five years, let alone since 1999.
We would not be opposed to trading Thomas, but only if the Browns can get a first round pick this year in return. As we have advocated before, if you are going to start over, then get rid of all players over 30 years old (outside of perhaps punter Andy Lee), and accumulate as many draft picks as possible.
That will accelerate the process.
As for the pursuit of Colin Kaepernick, we believe it does not change the Browns’ intention to get a quarterback early in the draft, but it may allow them to wait until the 32nd pick to do so.
Kaepernick has struggled over the past year and a half, but the guess here is the front office views him as an upgrade to 37 year old Josh McCown.
Really, the Browns are saying if we are going to have a mediocre veteran at the position, we would rather have him be 29 years old instead of 37.
However, we believe a third round pick is way too high for a player who was benched a year ago. We wouldn’t give up anything more than a fourth rounder to San Francisco.
After over 15 years of terrible football, it looks like the Cleveland Browns are basically starting over, and that starts by getting rid of players who aren’t still in improving mode.
That might hurt for now, but it’s really the only thing they haven’t tried.
Why not give it a shot?