Well Cleveland Browns fans, the most exciting two hours quite possibly in NFL history just occurred at the beginning of the 2015 league year. And as expected, not only were the Browns quiet—their name has been nearly non-existent with the exception of an early-day rumor of trying to throw their hat into the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes.
In a day which witnessed the LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso trade become official, the Saints shock the world by trading Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick to Seattle for Max Unger and a first-round pick, the Baltimore Ravens shipping Haloti Ngata to Detroit and the Eagles and Rams finalizing a deal that will send Nick Foles to St. Louis for Sam Bradford (and more)—the Browns have been a non-factor. Despite possessing the ability to try and get in on Graham or Foles, the Cleveland Browns front office has been MIA on this crazy day.
Now to be fair, the Browns weren’t expected to be heavily active early on in free agency. They agreed to a deal with wide receiver Brian Hartline earlier in the week, and hosted Trent Cole as well. Unfortunately, Cole chose to sign a two-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts—leaving the Browns free agency front eerily quiet.
There have been rumors (before today) out there regarding WR Andre Holmes, TE Jermaine Gresham, NT Dan Williams and more—but once again, there has not been much talk in regard to those players today. In fact, while scouring the NFL Insiders and Browns beat reporters you will find information on any of the players hard to come by at this point in time.
With all quiet on the Browns free agency front after the first couple of hours, it will be intriguing to see where the team goes from here.
Cornerback Buster Skrine has reportedly agreed to a deal with the New York Jets, DE/OLB Jabaal Sheard is on his way out the door in free agency, TE Jordan Cameron is likely gone and there are no indications that DT Ahtyba Rubin will be back. If all four are gone, that is a major snap count loss for a team that went 7-9 last season, and their playing time and production will not all be replaced with third-tier free agents.
It may not seem like a shocker, but Farmer and the front office need to land a few players in this next tier of free agents. While getting Revis would be an absolute game-changer, it is not likely to happen. So at corner—even though the team has a number of 2014 rookies vying for Skrine’s position—do not be surprised if they look into a veteran on the market.
One name that comes to mind is Antonio Cromartie, who played under head coach Mike Pettine with the Jets from 2010-2012. Though he has professed to be the “missing piece” in Dallas, Cromartie’s ties with his former defensive coordinator could at least have the Browns on his list. At 6’2” and 210 pounds, Cromartie certainly fills the “bigger” cornerback that Pettine loves. If Dallas isn’t willing to pony up the money, Cromartie could be a nice stop-gap while Justin Gilbert learns the ropes from Joe Haden and Cromartie.
While finding a replacement for Skrine is important, replacing Sheard and upgrading the pass rush is even more important. For this reason, the guy Farmer needs to be trying to get to Cleveland is Jason Worilds of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Though many feel he is undersized at 6’2” and 240 pounds, the 27-year old has recorded 15.5 sacks over the last two seasons playing outside linebacker. For his career, he has 25.5 sacks under his belt (five season), along with four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He is a natural at getting to the quarterback, and could easily replace Sheard, while weakening the Steelers in the process.
Cromartie and Worilds may be pipe dreams right about now, but with a lack of information coming out from the Browns organization—these dreams are going to have to get us through. Hopefully some light will be shed in regard to potential free agent targets before this time tomorrow, or else Browns fans everywhere may have a meltdown.