Yesterday we came across that both ESPN and SI had put out grades for all teams in free agency. ESPN’s is a Insider post (read costs money) while SI’s is a standard post you can read. Cleveland Browns free agency has been a interesting journey with 2 big additions on both sides of the ball while losing a couple big names, for the Browns, on defense. All and all it seems like a net positive but like anything you only know when you get the team on the field. Lets take a look at the grades as they have come in, first from ESPN:
Opinions were mixed here. Pro Football Focus listed the Browns among three “winners” in free agency, noting that the 2013 version of Whitner was more versatile than what Ward offered as primarily a box safety near the line of scrimmage. Yates liked the leadership Whitner and Dansby could bring. I just didn’t see safety and inside linebacker as primary needs for this team. Is free agency about improving incrementally or crossing off needs heading into the draft? I tend to think it’s more about the latter, but every team has its own reasoning.
“They traded old guys for old guys, except for Ben Tate, and we will see what he is,” Polian said. “I can’t tell what they are doing. It is not outstanding, put it that way, especially when they don’t have a QB.”
Riddick, though a fan of the Tate signing, was more pointed in his criticism overall. He thought the Browns unnecessarily replaced a couple of their core players.
“I don’t understand that logic with Dansby and Whitner unless you felt the guys were way better,” Riddick said. “It reeks of, ‘I just want my own guys.’”
Like many outlets ESPN questions the Browns getting older. Obviously finding players that fit in the new system is important. Riddick’s line is interesting ‘I just want my own guys’ is a true thing for most or all coaches. A ‘C’ grade seems a little low given the upgrade at 4 positions for the Browns. While replacing T.J. Ward with Whitner may not be in terms of pure talent ins system fit it is. Dansby is an upgrade over Jackson, Tate is a great deal better then the PuPu platter at running back last year and Andrew Hawkins will hopefully help Browns’ fans forget Bess. Now on to SI’s grade:
Best addition: Ben Tate, RB
Biggest loss: T.J. Ward, S
A busy offseason in Cleveland, with the crux of the focus on replacing those who left. There’s Donte Whitner, in for T.J. Ward; Karlos Dansby for D’Qwell Jackson at linebacker; and perhaps most importantly, ex-Texans running back Ben Tate taking over for rapidly aging Willis McGahee. How Tate fares out from under the shadow of Arian Foster should go a long way toward determining Cleveland’s offensive success rate this season. The aggressive move to swipe Hawkins from Cincinnati has a chance to score high marks down the road.
What would be considered a more appropriate grade for the Browns is given by SI. Tate and Hawkins could be the deciding factor by the end of the year what this grade is. Are they top 15 players at their positions or just another guy (JAG)? For the Browns the hope has to be in building something sustainable. The defense was full of young guys so bringing in some veterans made sense. The offense also has young guys and bringing in young veterans coming off their first contracts helps build with a combination of youth and veteran all wrapped into one.
What grade would you give the Browns? Did you want bigger names, bigger contracts? Are you satisfied given all the picks in the draft this year? Give us your grade below: