Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Why the Browns might not be wrong to cut ties

The NFL free agency period begins today and I'm looking at the Cleveland Browns to make a little noise,but not a huge bang....

I'm thinking the Browns are going to lose all four of their top free agents in house as Alex Mack and Mitchell Schwartz are going to go for far more than the Browns will be willing to pay.Travis Benjamin may not be a perfect fit in the Hue Jackson offense (no matter what the teams says) and Tashaun Gipson seems downright annoyed at the tepid response that that Cleveland has given his contract situation over the last year or so...

Sashi Brown says the Browns have to do better in keeping their own free agents and they do,but to take that step forward,you may have to be proactive in the future.
These guys aren't locked up and want to win,so for all of the ballyhoo about how smart these guys are-the newspapers aren't out yet,so they might have to start signing guys from the next wave of players before that group hits the market.
I'm going to make the case that with one exception that the Browns shouldn't break the bank on these 4 players.

Let's start with the player that I would try to keep in tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
Schwartz is reasonably young (26),has gotten better each year and is coming off a career year.
Add into that the Browns are likely going to be drafting a young quarterback and will need to protect the young man or risk turning him into the next Tim Couch.
I have been on the soapbox for years that Couch wasn't a bust (as so many say) simply because he played well for a guy running for his life-while taking a beating that made one recall the beating that Archie Manning took every week for the Saints in the 70's,
Schwartz wouldn't be cheap and I just don't see a way that the Browns keep him,but if there is a case to overpay one of these players-I overpay Schwartz.
The Browns will have to address right tackle in losing Schwartz in either free agency or the draft,so an argument can be to make Schwartz the focus of the homegrown free agents.

I wouldn't overpay Alex Mack,although someone is going to.
Mack didn't really return to previous form last season in his comeback from a broken ankle and considering his age (30) and already having money tied up into a similar aged player on the line in Joe Thomas,I can see why an overpay doesn't appeal to the Browns.
After the pathetic rookie year showing by Cameron Erving,the Browns might not want to risk handing Erving the center job after Mack leaves,so look for the Browns to add a medium priced center as an insurance policy against Erving not being able to do the job.

I would bring Travis Benjamin back at the right price,but I'd bet that the right price isn't going to sign the speedy Benjamin.
Fleet on foot and slight of build,I'm not convinced that Benjamin is more than a tweener or a one-dimensional speedster.
I'm doubtful of Benjamin being able to take the pounding in the slot and yet I am unconvinced that he is a true every down player on the outside either.
I'd rather the Browns put the money at receiver into one or even two free agents at WR (two covers them in case Josh Gordon wants a Miller Lite or something) and even a day two draft pick to build a receiving corps that has fallen far behind the rest of the league,..

Tashaun Gipson on the surface looks like a cornerstone at safety,but at 25 has already had issues staying healthy.
Health issues rarely get better as players get older,so there is a warning flag there.
Gipson's interceptions dropped to just two last season,so the big plays that made him a breakout star in 2013 and 2014 were missing last season.
The Browns have fought over contracts with Gipson over the last two years and I doubt those ruffled feathers will be straightened out in time to sign Gipson.
I wouldn't overpay him,but wouldn't be against a return either,if things could be worked out.
I'd rather the Browns draft a replacement or sign a young veteran to fill the slot of Gipson if I had my way.
The Browns will need someone with speed,if slower veteran Donte Whitner is brought back at the opposite safety....

I'll be following the Browns day tomorrow and if any players sign,I'll be here with some thoughts...

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