Garbage In, Garbage Out: Cleveland Browns Update 3
Well, well. The Cleveland Browns, will have the second most adjusted cap space in the NFL ($161,767,400 million) this off-season as they decided not to use any franchise or transition tags by the Monday, March 2 deadline, and decide to carry over a significant amount of unused cap space from 2014.
So far, the Browns’ primary off-season move was to sign journeyman quarterback, Josh McCown, to a three-year deal that averages out just under $4.7 million per year. And you already know how much of a mistake I think that is as he’s practically identical to the much more affordable Brian Hoyer. And for that unbelievable sum of money, McCown expects to start over Johnny Football (since it’s all but a forgone conclusion that Brian Hoyer won’t be returning).
“That’s my expectation right now [to start]…. We’ll see, as things unfold, what their plan is, but that’s my expectation. I’m going to compete as such to do that.”
Well, assuming the Browns don’t take yet another first round quarterback in the draft (which, as I’ve mentioned, would be a mistake), then they’ll need to get someone for McCown to throw to since the Browns’ two best receiving options, Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, won’t be around in 2015.
One thing we learned from this franchise and transition tag deadline is which of the top free agent wide receivers will be available in free agency. Turns out that Randall Cobb, Torrey Smith and Jeremy Maclin all remain available. And who should the Browns target? I believe that target should be Randall Cobb.
To recap (no pun intended), the NFL announced the 2015 cap will be $143.28 million, an increase of about $10 million from 2014 and about $20 million from 2013. And we’ve already discussed that the Browns will have an adjusted salary cap of $161,767,400 due to rolling over some unused cap space from 2014.
Spotrac.com estimates that the Browns will have $50,773,391 in cap space to use on free agents and the draft pool will be about $7.8 million of that. That’s still a lot to work with.
ESPN reported that Cobb is looking for a deal that averages around $9 million per year, something that’s close to what his current teammate, Jordy Nelson, got last year (four-years, $39 million).
I’ve discussed Cobb many times now, but in sum, he’s young (he’ll be 25 on August 22) and can become the cornerstone of the Browns’ air attack into the future. He had a terrific 2014 season with 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns. As I mentioned previously, there’s no Aaron Rodgers in Cleveland, but Cobb is an incredibly talented receiver that could certainly be a WR1. And the Browns will need that since McCown has an abysmal 1.00 TD to INT ratio throughout his career. So when he does get the ball to the right team, it’ll need to count.
If the Browns grab a good move tight end (perhaps Julius Thomas) and draft a decent WR2 option in the draft (like Jaelen Strong in the first or second round or Deontay Greenberry in one of the late rounds), there’s at least potential for mediocre season.
Because at this point, hoping for anything more would be bad bet. Case in point?
Just look at the Brown’s most recent off season move – bringing in Miami Dolphins castoff Brian Hartline:
PFT has learned, via a league source, that Brian Hartline will visit Browns on Tuesday
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 3, 2015
Yeah, THAT will help. He’s a local, but do the Brown’s really need another guy with 474 yards and 2 touchdowns in only 39 receptions? Andrew Hawkins actually doubled those yards and receptions in 2014, so I don’t see the benefit here.
Unless the Brown’s are going for the number 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, in which case, well played, Browns. Well played.