One hour in Free Agency and this is where we stand.
The Browns have signed versatile and well-rounded ILB Karlos Dansby (4 year, $24 million) and also hometown hard hitting safety Donte Whitner (4 year, $28 million).
What this Means: Dansby will fill the expired D’Qwell Jackson role and what an upgrade. Here you have a guy who can step back in coverage, blitz the quarterback and still make tackles all over the field. The one thing Jackson did well was make tackles but he was a liability in coverage and didn’t make much of an impact on the opposite side of the snap. This is a huge upgrade especially in Mike Pettine’s schemes and packages. With Dansby you never know what he’s going to do next, with Jackson you could pretty much guarantee he was going to sit in the middle of the field and wait to read the play. I’m doing jumping jacks around my yard (it’s nice outside!!). What an amazing sign.
The signing of Donte Whitner rules out the return of T.J. Ward. Why? I’m not too sure why they preferred Whitner over Ward. I personally liked T.J. Ward and thought he was growing into a more full rounded safety. Pettine must have saw something on tape that stood out to him, maybe he likes Whitner’s coverage skills more. Whitner is still a hell of a player and even though Whitner has been in the league 4 years longer, he’s only a year older than Ward. This signing to me, doesn’t rule out Jairus Byrd. Byrd was always more of an upgrade over Gipson than a Ward replacement. Byrd is more of a roaming free safety who can play close to the line, the type of diversity that Pettine likes. (Remember Pettine coached Byrd to his best season last year)
Reports are that the Oakland Raiders are out and that leaves the Browns as the only suitor at this point willing to trade for Darrelle Revis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to release or trade him by tomorrow at 4pm otherwise they have to up the ante in their previous trade for him. All reports indicate they will have him off their roster by 4pm tomorrow. Like I talked about earlier, Revis to Cleveland makes sense. Him and Pettine have worked together in the past, with some of Revis’ best years working together. The sole problem with Revis is his big contract, something that wouldn’t be a huge problem in Cleveland due to their mass cap space. I expect this trade to go down. The Browns have picks and a need to make a huge impact. This will be the biggest impact they can make. Pettine has discussed having two corners who can play man to man to help allow the rest of the defense to offer and show different packages and schemes. I have a feeling he’s really pushing this. This, Dansby and a possible Byrd signing could make the Browns the best defensive team in the league with the draft to worry about fixing the offense. Keep your eyes open.
Signings around the League
Former Browns S: T.J. Ward is officially gone now, signing with former GM Tom Heckert (who drafted him) for the Denver Broncos.
It’s sad to see T.J. Ward go. Always liked him, wanted to come back to Cleveland (who does in this day and age) and thought he was a better player than Donte Whitner. Pettine must have saw something he liked better in Whitner. At least Ward goes to a great place.
Zone Blocking G: Zane Beadles 5 year, 30 million with the Jacksonsville Jaguars
This one hurts. This is the zone blocking G I coveted a lot. A former pro-bowler who can help solidify the open guard position with previous scheme experience.
Top Tier T: Brandon Albert with the Miami Dolphins (5 year, $46 million)
Not a huge blow to the Browns. Too much money for a possible RT. Very talented though
Former Browns G: Shawn Lauvao (4 Years, $17 Million) with the Washington Redskins
Means the Browns are definitely looking at G, either in the draft or free agency. Not a big loss, especially for that kinda money. Don’t understand the Redskins during free agency.
Higher Tier T: Eugene Monroe re-signs with Baltimore Ravens (5 year, $37.5 million)
Could mean the Ravens are spent out and can’t go after high priced Alex Mack, which was previously reported they would if they lost Monroe. Might also keep Michael Oher avalaible, a possible Browns’ target at RT.
Reported Browns’ Target DE: Tyson Jackson signs with Atlanta Falcons
This report never made sense to me. The Browns already have enough spent on their defensive line. Not really a big enough upgrade to justify the spending.
Reported Browns’ Target WR: Dexter McCluster signs with Tennessee Titans (3 year, $12 Million)
Again never really bought this one. It kinda makes sense as a slot receiver but way better options available in draft and in free agency.
7 time Pro-Bowler, Former Defensive Player of the Year and one of the top pass rushers in all the NFL: DE/OLB: Demarcus Ware is released by the Dallas Cowboys. Don’t expect the Browns to make a move on this but just interesting that this occurred.
Blaine Gabbert has been traded to the 49ers for a 6th Round Pick, meaning no one is giving up anything for Brandon Weeden. It also puts Jacksonville back in the likelihood that their #3 pick will be a QB.
What’s Next for the Browns:
The Browns haven’t addressed any needs on offense yet with RB, WR, and Offensive Line still glaring. Besides the big OTs being signed, something the Browns were never interested in with Joe Thomas anchoring the left side, there hasn’t been much movement on this across the league. Look for the Browns to explore offensive line help with previous zone-blocking scheme experience.
Also keep an eye on Jairus Byrd, who I still consider a Cleveland target.