With all the news surrounding the Cleveland Browns yesterday, former LB Scott Fujita sent out one tweet in particular that’s of interest to us:
Cleared out 2 impediments to progress, IMO. Makes Browns a more desirable location now. @dutey12
— Scott Fujita (@sfujita55) February 11, 2014
So was the team being held back by former CEO Joe Banner and GM Michael Lombardi?
Mary Kay Cabot of Northeast Ohio Media Group was told just that:
I had one GM tell me today: “I will do business with the #Browns again.” (and no, it’s not anyone who’s ever worked here)
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) February 11, 2014
No matter how many times owner Jimmy Haslam reiterates that the perception around the league is fabricated by the media, a lot of folks breathed a sigh of relief after yesterday’s moves. Given Banner’s history of sticking to his payscale chart and letting go of veterans, a lot of question marks remained as well.
Would the roster remain consistent and stable by signing our own top free agents, or were the Browns going to have to replenish those positions in the draft? Would other GMs (like Houston Texans’ Rick Smith) have been receptive to working with the former front office on draft day if they did want to trade up for a QB? Would they have been fleeced again by another team like in the Davone Bess debacle?
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk also wondered if some of the Browns’ Pro Bowlers were here to stay:
“In his introductory press conference, new G.M. Ray Farmer was asked whether the tag may be used on center Alex Mack or safety T.J. Ward.
‘We’ve taken the opportunity to really look at all of the models and opportunities that we have to retain players,’ Farmer said. ‘I don’t think right now is the right time for me to talk about what negotiations may be going on or where we’re at with anyone in specific, but I will tell you we’ll do everything in our power to make sure we have the right players for this football team moving forward…’
It’s the first of many challenges Farmer will face as he takes over a team with five Pro Bowlers, $40 million in cap space, 10 draft picks, and three selections in the first 35.”
Um, that’s six Pro Bowlers, Mike. Get it right. And none of them were chosen by Banner or Lombardi – even factoring in LB Barkevious Mingo’s future potential.
Regardless, here’s to Farmer getting it right by keeping the talent we already have. There is plenty of cap space to build upon the foundation and move forward with those draft picks.
The future is bright in Cleveland. Now we just need that franchise quarterback. And we certainly don’t need a motto painted on the locker room wall to tell us that.