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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the tag “free agency”

Talking ourselves into the Browns moves in free agency

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo BillsWith the second week of free agency in the NFL winding down, the only players left are the types that not even a bargain-basement shopping team like the Cleveland Browns would take a look at.

Which means we’ve transitioned into the part of free agency where Browns fans start to rationalize how the players the team has brought in will help the squad more than the players that walked out the door since the end of last season.

If you go by last season’s rankings at Pro Football Focus, the five main players that the Browns have signed – Tramon Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Randy Starks, Josh McCown and Brian Hartline – carry a collective ranking of -26.7. (That number is heavily weighed down by McCown’s ranking of -18.3, however).

That seems pretty depressing until you look at what the Browns “lost” in free agency. Jabaal Sheard, Miles Austin, Buster Skrine, Jordan Cameron, Ahtyba Rubin and Brian Hoyer carry a collective grade of -40.3 out of town.

While those rankings say that the Browns basically stood still in free agency, if you look at little bit deeper the picture looks a little differently. (See what we mean about the rationalizing?)

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Browns add some more depth with signings of Owens, Davis

2013_03_browns_chris_owensThe Cleveland Browns added two players in free agency on Friday, signing tight end Kellen Davis and cornerback Chris Owens.

Both players reportedly signed one-year deals and both add depth at areas where the Browns can use it.

Davis, who is 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds, started for Chicago the past two years and has spent his entire NFL career with the Bears after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 draft out of Michigan State. He was released after the Bears signed Martellus Bennett.

He had career “highs” in 2012 with 19 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He had eight drops on just 44 attempts – or one fewer than wide receiver Greg Little, who was targeted 87 times.

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Browns take a look at Brent Grimes

2013_03_browns_grimesThe Cleveland Browns reportedly hosted free agent cornerback Brent Grimes on Saturday.

Grimes tore his Achilles’ tendon in the opening game of the 2012 season with Atlanta after the Falcons put the franchise tag on him. He is the No. 1 rated free agent among cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, which wrote that:

“Grimes shows a fantastic instinct for zone coverage and reminds me a little of Asante Samuel without the lapses and questionable desire for contact. He has fantastic fundamentals, quick reactions and a pretty good set of ball skills when the ball is in the air. Along with everybody else on this list, however, he comes with some risk attached. He will be 30 years old by the time he next sees the field, and is coming off a season-ending injury.

“In the 2011 season he got his hands to 13 passes while allowing just 25 to be completed all year, and QBs had a rating of only 62.9 when targeting him, but this offseason he might have to accept a short-term ‘prove it’ contract to see a more healthy return a year from now.”

Grimes definitely sounds like the type of player the Browns should be investigating as, when healthy, he would be a nice player to pair with Joe Haden.

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The most important lesson of free agency for the Browns

browns-lombardi-football0d114-1If you only read one other story today Cleveland Browns fans, it should be this one by Bill Barnwell at Grantland.

In it, Barnwell writes about how more talent is becoming available at below-market rates in NFL free agency, which officially opens today at 4 p.m.

If you don’t have time to read the entire article, here is the most-relevant part:

“Almost nobody scouts well enough to overcome huge value gaps …, which is why the league’s smarter teams go out of their way to acquire additional picks and are happy to take 90 percent of the player for 50 percent of the price in free agency. What those smart teams will do in this new economy is — very simply — be patient. The true stars will disappear off the market early, and the dumber teams will pay a premium for talent to lock them up in the first 24 to 48 hours, but the smart teams will wait. Even if it’s just a week, antsy players will see the open slots beginning to fill up around them and settle for far less than they would have at the opening of free agency.”

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Browns have plenty of options when free agency opens Tuesday

NFL: Preseason-Detroit Lions at Cleveland BrownsThe AFC North is a harsh mistress; after all, it’s not known as the NFL’s Group of Death for nothing.

And that’s a lesson that Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner hopefully learned during the fall and one that he needs to remember as the Browns get ready for the official opening of free agency on Tuesday.

It takes a special type of player to be successful in this division; it’s not for everyone. Targeting players that you know can perform in the pressure cooker is a strategy that should be part of the decision-making process for the Browns. After all, that’s been a successful strategy for the Ravens and Steelers for the past decade.

To find out who those players could be (and, no, Jerome Harrison is not one of them), head over to The Cleveland Fan.

(Photo by U.S. Presswire)

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