The offseason for the NFL is beginning to come alive with the NFL combine this week and free agency opening up in a couple weeks. With that in mind, the Browns have a chance to improve on their 3-13 season. Here’s a brief overview of general things the Browns should do in the next few months in order to improve.
1.) Retain Your Own Free Agents
This is one that should go without saying. It’s almost probably the one thing that drives fans more insane than bed bugs affect Kyrie Irving. Looking back at past offseasons, the front office has let countless young players walk away in free agency. Those players have gone on to make an impact on other teams.
Some immediate names that come to mind are TJ Ward, Jabaal Sheard, Athyba Rubin, Buster Skrine and Jordan Cameron. With regimes constantly changing, it seemed that none of them wanted to resign the players that helped make their current team successful before hitting the market, rather opting for their own players. This year’s new regime will face a similar daunting task. Currently the Browns have some of their best players set to hit the market including Tashaun Gipson, Mitchell Schwartz, Travis Benjamin, and quite possibly Alex Mack. On a team already void of talent, the team needs to retain most if not all of them. Reports out there now have said the team is preparing to let Gipson walk and that contract talks with Benjamin have broken off.
Combine that with Mack likely asking for ten million a year for a 31 year old center and we could be in store for yet another cycle of this. The one that I can’t justify is letting Gipson walk. He is only 25 years old and led the AFC in interceptions in 2013 and 2014, one of which was when now defensive coordinator Ray Horton was here.
He has had some injury problems the last couple seasons, but he is also one of the best young safeties and it was not his fault how bad the defense was this year. As a free safety his job is to pretty much play center field. He shouldn’t be responsible for the lack of a pass rush that leads to extended plays and the corners routinely being beat. He finished fifth on the team in tackles despite only playing in 13 games, showing that he was there to help clean up the corners messes. Hopefully this front office wakes up in the next two weeks and signs these guys before other teams can start talking to them.