Money May Be No Object For The Browns, But Making The Right Investments Will Be
By Steven King
The old saying, “Money is no object,” sums up perfectly the Cleveland Browns’ finances in free agency.
The Browns are believed to have as much as $46 million to spend, which would be the second-highest total in the NFL. As such, it’s a veritable gold mine. The Browns can target the players they really want – the ones whose acquisition would really make their free agency an unqualified success, at least on paper – and go after them with the fattest checkbook.
Add in the fact they have the No. 6 overall pick in the NFL Draft and it gives them the opportunity to make the kind of upgrades overall this team so desperately needs if it wants to get back on track. It is almost a perfect situation, being on the front end of both of these important lists.
In fact, it is hard to recall when – if ever – the Browns have been in this situation before, having so much to spend in free agency and also owning such a draft choice. With the full-fledged free agency that exists now in the NFL being only 20 years old, it is likely this is the first time the Browns have had this kind of potential bounty at their fingertips.
But this isn’t as easy – or sure a thing – as it appears to be. This is not a chip-shot field goal.
Maybe the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and the like can miss on a player they sign in free agency because they already have such good teams. Indeed, the pressure is not on them nearly as much as it is on the Browns, who still have plenty of holes, especially on defense – as they transition to a 3-4 scheme after having played a 4-3 the last two seasons – as well as at wide receiver and tight end on offense.
With that, the Browns can’t afford to make a wrong decision. All the players they sign, such as a pass-rushing specialist they desire in Ravens’ OLB Paul Kruger, has to have the impact they project them to have if their rebuilding plan is to come to fruition in the time frame they’ve laid out.
To be sure, we won’t have to wait long to see how good this new Browns’ regime – principally CEO Joe Banner, newly-named GM Mike Lombardi and newly-signed assistant GM Ray Farmer – really is in terms of the most crucial task: player acquisition. We won’t know immediately as it takes a while to see if these players pan out, but we’ll know a lot very soon as to whether or not there is a sound reasoning behind the moves they make.
But there is another factor – and a big one – that must be factored into the equation: will the Browns use all their resources – all the money -- they have at their disposal?
The previous Browns’ regime made mistakes in not adding more free agents at trouble areas such as wide receiver. Why those people – ex-GM Tom Heckert and former team president Mike Holmgren – failed to do so will forever be a head-scratcher.
But what is troubling is the perception that this current regime might be on the verge of doing a lot of the same things. The Browns have a number of good, young players, but they still lack the necessary talent to compete in a division that has produced three Super Bowl champions since the 2005 season.
If Banner, Lombardi and Farmer decide to be frugal, then it will put even more pressure on them to hit the target with the players they do sign.
So while “Money is no object,” the object is to spend enough of it to do what you need to do.