Don’t Shoot the Messenger: Cleveland Browns Update – Again

Free agency looms, so what better time to get another update on the Cleveland Browns!

Hartline Gives the Browns a Pulse

Well, I’ve discussed several times now that the Cleveland Browns really need to add receiving options, particularly in the wake of Josh Gordon’s looming suspension and Jordan Cameron’s inevitable move to another team.  And I’ve mentioned that I thought Reggie Wayne would be a good fit.  But honestly, I never thought Brian Hartline was the solution.

However, in retrospect, although not the solution, there are some benefits to securing Hartline for 2015.

Getty Images (Brian Hartline now of the Cleveland Browns)

Getty Images

First, he’s still relatively young at 28 and is actually from Canton, Ohio.  So there’s still room to grow here for Hartline.

Second, he’s relatively durable and reliable playing 92 games (starting 69 of them, including every game in 2014) for the Dolphins since 2009. And he’s only lost 2 fumbles in his entire career. He’s a veteran, high floor, low ceiling player, which will be helpful guiding the Browns’ younger receivers (in particular, Taylor Gabriel and Travis Benjamin).

Third, Hartline posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2012 and 2013 before having a down year in 2014 with only 474 yards.  So there’s still potential here for Hartline to be a solid WR2.

Last, and most importantly, he was signed for only two years and $6 million, which means there’s still plenty of room to acquire a true WR1, or at least fill other holes and spend a high draft pick on one of the premier wide receivers in the draft (like DeVante Parker or Jaelen Strong).  And ESPN noted that his salary over two years totals less than what’s guaranteed for Josh McCown or even what was guaranteed for Andrew Hawkins last year.

Hartline won’t be a superstar, but, assuming additional moves to build the receiving core are forthcoming, this isn’t a bad first step on the part of the Browns.

Johnny Downfall Decides To Continue His Climb

We discussed previously that Johnny Manziel decided that his off field antics weren’t going to cut it anymore, and that perhaps he really did have a problem.  And to that end, Manziel checked himself into rehab.

Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns

Now, it turns out, Manziel feels he needs more than the minimum 28-day stay.  When asked about it by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Coach Pettine stated:

“There was no set end date.  It’s more important — the personal stuff now — football is an afterthought so we’re just giving him his privacy and (letting him) do what he has to do.”

As we’ve also discussed, Josh McCown was signed for relatively good money, so there will be plenty of competition (although whether it’s good competition or not remains to be seen) when Manziel returns to the team.  But Pettine believes Manziel still has a good shot with the Browns:

“Well, I just think in hiring (quarterbacks coach) Kevin O’Connell, hiring (offensive coordinator) John DeFilippo, and knowing what those guys bring to the table from a quarterback standpoint that when Johnny is back, I’m very confident that he’ll be better.”

We’ll see what happens, but honestly, if there was ever a chance to succeed, it would be against Josh McCown.

New Uniforms Makes Everything Better

AND, perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT news for Cleveland Browns fans?  New uniforms to be unveiled on News Channel 5 on April 14th from 7 to 8 PM!  Hurray!  I suppose once the Browns botch free agency, at least Browns fans can celebrate new uniforms that are sure to be a…wait for it…slightly different shade of orange!  It does beg the question though why it will take a whole hour to reveal a uniform.  I mean, are we going one piece at a time?  The lengths Browns management will go to manufacture excitement…

Stay tuned, Browns fans!  More news to come in free agency!

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

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