Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Browns start paving the way for Phil Dawson’s departure

temp4X9E1954--nfl_mezz_1280_1024The Cleveland Browns officially began their efforts on Tuesday to win the hearts and minds of Browns fans over what looks to be the inevitable departure of longtime kicker Phil Dawson in free agency.

While it seemed as if the Browns could find a way to work out a deal with a Pro Bowl kicker who has made 14-of-15 field goals from more than 50 yards in the past two seasons and has missed just eight extra points since joining the team in 1999, that seems more unlikely after reading Vic Carucci’s latest on the team’s official website.

In response to a fan’s “question” about keeping Dawson, Carucci writes in part that:

“As tremendous a contribution as Dawson has made through the years, the Browns will need to assess a potential long-term investment in him on the basis of how many strong years he has ahead of him and on other investments they might make in future players they would want to retain or the free-agent market. … The bottom line is that re-signing Dawson might not very well be the slam dunk that many of us think.”

When you pair Carucci’s team-approved answer with the way CEO Joe Banner dealt with a kicker the last time he was in this situation – he let David Akers leave in free agency after the 2010 season when Banner was still with Philadelphia – it starts to become even clearer that Dawson’s days in Orange and Brown are most likely finished.

Of course, it takes two to make a deal and, even if the Browns make him an offer, Dawson may want to move on to a team that can get him back in the playoffs for just the second time in his career. And the Browns wouldn’t be in this situation if the previous regime had taken the time to sign Dawson to a long-term contract rather than franchising him the past two years.

But none of that will be of any consolation the first time a new kicker misses a field goal next season.

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