The 2014 Cleveland Browns finished 7-9. You’d think they’re headed in the right direction, but they aren’t. The organization is being investigated about general manager Ray Farmer allegedly sending text messages to a member of the coaching staff during a game. The owner Jimmy Haslam and president Alec Scheiner have been reported as being too hands on the football side of the organization. Quarterback Johnny Manziel is in a treatment facility to correct his continuous off the field issues and wide receiver Josh Gordon is gone for another season after failing another drug test (although I didn’t expect him to be on the Browns next season anyways). The Browns are being labeled as dysfunctional but I don’t think that’s the case, I believe they have finally found the coach in Mike Pettine and there is some pieces that we can continue to build upon. Here’s what I would do if I was running the Cleveland Browns this offseason.
1) Give Mike Pettine more say on the roster: with Ray Farmer being investigated in the “Textgate” scandal, this would be a good time to give Pettine some more power. I believe the head coach should have some say on who gets to be on the 53 man roster considering he is the head coach and is the man who is indeed coaching them. The new coach of the Atlanta Falcons Dan Quinn, a first time head coach received control of the 53 man roster, so why can’t Pettine do it.
2) Re-sign Brian Hoyer: I know Brian Hoyer didn’t have the greatest ending to the 2014 season, but remember he did have the Browns at a 7-4 record while feeling pressure from the front office who wanted to see Manziel play. He’s not the greatest quarterback and he’s not the quarterback of the future but in my opinion he’s the best quarterback available in free agency. If Hoyer leaves Cleveland, I would look at the options of trading for Nick Foles or Mike Glennon if their respective teams make them available.
3) Upgrade the lines of scrimmage: the offensive line was a disaster following Alex Mack’s injury, need to add some depth at the guard and center positions. Also could look to upgrade the right tackle position as Mitchell Schwartz struggled at times last season. The defensive line was also a disaster, the defense was 32nd against the run and the defensive line was injury plagued all season. Former 1st round pick defensive tackle Phil Taylor has been good but can’t stay on the field and Athyba Rubin is likely leaving as he will become a free agent in March , I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a defensive tackle like Washington’s Danny Shelton or Texas’ Malcolm Brown, with the 12th or 19th pick in the NFL draft in April. Also would like to them pursue free agents Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley or Terrance Knighton as they will have around 50 million dollars in cap space.
4) Pursue offensive skill players: Josh Gordon is gone for the 2015 season and will probably never play another game for the Cleveland Browns. Ray Farmer has stated he doesn’t believe you need a playmaking wide receiver to win in the NFL. The Patriots and Seahawks back that case up as they don’t have any big name wide receivers (Patriots have Rob Gronkowski though) and they were playing in the Super Bowl. But the difference between those teams and the Browns, they have their franchise quarterbacks and we don’t. Since we don’t have the QB, might as well surround the current QBs with weapons. Tight end Jordan Cameron is likely to leave in free agency so the Browns will need to find a new tight end for the future. I would pursue wide receivers Randall Cobb, Cecil Shorts III and Torrey Smith in free agency but if they don’t come to Cleveland, I’d strongly consider Louisville’s Devante Parker or West Virginia’s Kevin White with one of our two first round picks. As for the tight end position, I’d pursue former Dolphins tight end Charles Clay in free agency and Ohio State’s Jeff Heuerman or Minnesota’s Maxx Williams in the draft.
Now this is what I would do if I’m in control of the Browns. The people running the Browns are bound to do anything, there’s rumblings that they may even trade up for Oregon’s Heisman trophy winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. I like Mariota but I don’t see the Browns drafting a quarterback in the first round for the third time in four years, but these are the Browns, they like to shock the world time and time again and this offseason will probably be no different.