Cleveland Browns fans were excited for Josh Gordon after last year’s breakout season. Fans pulled for the team to draft Sammy Watkins at #4 in the NFL Draft and build a dynamic offense around those 2 receivers. Following the first round fans “knew” the Browns would draft a receiver in the second round to compliment Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron. When Ray Farmer didn’t draft one on Day 2 everyone knew they would add 1 or 2 on the last day of the draft. Yet GM Ray Farmer did not, though he added some interesting players that were undrafted free agents.
In an interview recently Farmer explained his thoughts on receivers that should provide fans with a detailed idea of what to expect related to future drafts and free agency when it comes to receivers. As noted by NFL.com Farmer doesn’t think the Browns need a big time “mega-guy”:
“I would say ‘how important are those guys?’” Farmer told WKRK-FM in Cleveland, per The Plain Dealer. “Name the last big-time receiver to win a Super Bowl. Name the last mega-guy. (Gordon) matters to me because I like the guy and I think he’s a really good player, but at the end of the day, when you look at the teams that have these mega-receivers, name the last guy that won a Super Bowl?… There are none. The last guy that really helped his team get there was T.O. (Terrell Owens).”
A very clear statement about how much Farmer values the receiver position. These type of quotes could be mis-represented that Farmer doesn’t think receivers matter. Yet it seems clear that he realizes that quarterbacks tend to make receivers and teams but that receivers cannot do that on their own. He noted T.O. as the last player who really carried his team to the Super Bowl, and even he had Donovan McNabb. Very few receivers make their QB develop but quality QB play has made a number of receivers. Think of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and how many of their receivers have failed after leaving them. Brady in particular has succeeded without stud level guys.
Take a look at 3 of the top receivers in the NFL over the past decade: Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson. All 3 have dominated the game as receivers but none, outside of Fitzgerald’s 1 SB appearance, which came when Kurt Warner was his QB, has made a noticeable impact in regards to a championship. Dez Bryant, A.J. Green and Gordon are among the next wave of great young receivers, but if not surrounded by a solid QB and a team built from the inside out could have the same results as the other 3 noted.
Farmer’s statements tells us a couple things that we should be prepared for in the next few years. Farmer may not be willing to give Gordon a huge contract, even if his suspension is overturned or lessened. If Gordon is able to secure a huge deal, ala Fitzgerald or Johnson, it may have to come from another team. Farmer is unlikely to break the bank in free agency for another receiver, so cross those off the list at the beginning of next year’s free agency. Trading for a high priced receiver, like Desean Jackson and Mike Wallace were not likely, and won’t be likely in the future. With 2 first rounders its unlikely that Farmer will use the highest pick on a receiver, and possible he won’t use either on a receiver.
Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine will build a team from the inside out. The belief is that a solid running game, good offensive line and good quarterback play can make decent receivers look good to great. With the defense the Browns should be putting on the field the pressure on the offense to make huge plays will be limited. A reminder to Browns fans: Gordon’s league leading receiving yards last year helped the team win 4 total games.
How do you feel about Farmer’s recent comments? How do you feel about his way of building the team? Do you buy the narrative that the NFL is “A Passing League” and teams need stud WRs?