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State of the Franchise: Browns Before Free Agency

Joe Haden

 

Written By: Christina Rivers

The Cleveland Browns couldn’t wait until the end of a disappointing 2013 NFL Season.  In February, the organization completely revamped their front office.  The team promoted Ray Farmer to General Manager and the team’s football operations during free agency and the draft.

Owner Jimmy Haslam released a statement, saying, “First of all, we wanted to capitalize on the knowledge, experience and character we’re fortunate to have in Ray Farmer.  Ray has a tremendous football IQ, he’s compelling and he understands the types of players we need to acquire and develop in order to win in Cleveland.”

Reading between the lines, the Cleveland Browns appear to be a team in rebuild mode.  On March 5, Vic Carucci said,  “This team is not going to fix everything it needs to fix in one offseason. In many cases, they are going to spend their most money on players who are already wearing Cleveland Browns uniforms.”

Inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was released from the team, making headlines across the NFL. Jackson was due a roster bonus that the Browns didn’t want to extend to him. Browns insiders expect that move spells not only a leadership change, but a sign that Cleveland is going to use the draft to find inside linebackers.  They also feel that safety T.J. Ward is a higher priority to be re-signed to the team, yet the Browns did not use the franchise tag on him, leaving the deal up in the air.

Instead, the Browns designated Alex Mack as their ‘transition player’ for the 2014 NFL Season.  It is a move that has drawn some questions.  The tag will allow Mack to still test free agent waters and agent Marvin Demoff is expected to present the Browns with a deal that may be difficult to match.  Cleveland made Mack their number one priority during the offseason, but have yet to seal the deal.

Alan Herman, Browns defensive end Ahtyba Rubin’s agent, admitted that the team spoke about Rubin’s contract and that he will be with the team in 2014.  Rubin is expected to make $6.6 million for the 2014 season, but his 53 tackles and two sacks may have been too good for the Browns to pass up.

The Browns re-signed kicker Billy Cundiff to a one-year, $1.02 million contract.

At wide receiver, the Browns released Davone Bess and Brian Tyms while signing Royce Adams.

Cleveland tendered exclusive rights to free agent inside linebacker Craig Robertson, but waived linebacker Paul Hazel.

Despite the comment by Carucci, the Browns haven’t shown a ton of activity in the free agent market.  This seems to indicate that the organization will look to the draft to fill spots and build the team with fresh blood.  Browns fans are likely to be in a state of mourning as the team struggles to find a new identity.

Christina Rivers has been a freelance journalist, writer and photographer for over 20 years with a vast range of personal experiences. Credentialed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, her work has been featured on Examiner.com as well as CBS Sports, CBS Sports Local, KDKA in Pittsburgh, ‘The Beam’ in Pittsburgh, If It Ain’t Steel, SteelBlitz Steelers blog, SteelersDepot and more. She has written over 10,000 individual pieces of work and continues to add photographs to her growing portfolio. You can follow Christina’s work here on SteelersGab, on Facebook, via Twitter @3Rivers_Writer  and Google Plus.


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