Re: Grade Your Team's Offseason
One of the better Browns offseasons I can recall. B+
Free Agent Acquisitions/Re-signings:
Switching from the 4-3 to the 3-4 seemed like an odd decision given the previous regime had one a pretty damn good job of building the team around the defensive line. That explains this offseason being almost exclusively centered around building a solid linebacking corps.
*Paul Krugar is obviously the big name here. We'll see how good he is out of the Ravens system, but I've seen a lot of people just assuming he was the product of a Baltimore franchise which seems to breed these guys. Thing is, the Browns have a very nice looking front-7 of their own coming into this season and that has certainly become the team's strength. We'll see, but I think we got him at a fair price.
*Desmond Bryant is one of those high risk/high reward guys. Since joining the Browns, he has already been arrested and sued. However, he is a pretty versatile DE/OLB who showed some promise in Oakland and would fit in well with our now versatile group on the edge.
*I liked the new additions to the receiving corps with Davon Bess and David Nelson. Now alongside Josh Gordon, who I think could become a legitimate beast this season. Those guys are well complimented by the big/physical Greg Little and the small/speedy Travis Benjamin.
*Meanwhile, Jason Campbell is a pretty good backup quarterback and no threat to Brandon Weeden, while Brian Hoyer is an interesting guy to have learning and growing behind Campbell.
*The biggest losses are Phil Dawson, who I honestly believe has been consistently the best kicker in the league over the past 6-7 years and Ben Watson. Also gone is Mohamed Massaquoi after a very disappointing tenure as a second round pick.
- Once again, no surprises here... With the switch to the 3-4 and a draft absolutely loaded with top-end pass-rushers, Barkevious Mingo was the right pick, I think. The other major need was cornerback which was addressed with our next pick (3rd round), Leon McFadden. I'll admit I know very little of McFadden, but if the FO believed he was the best CB on the board, that was the right pick. He was complimented by Notre Dame safety Jamoris Slaughter with the next pick. Slaughter tore his ACL last season, which is why he slipped to the 6th round. He is your classic risk/reward guy. Another guy who is looking riskier than we even imagined was Armonty Bryant, who has been arrested since the draft and has compiled a wrap sheet longer than his list of accomplishments as a standout at East Central Oklahoma. This guy is already down to his last strike and he hasn't even put pads on yet. Not a great sign.
This is the most interesting area of the new regime who've taken over in Berea. Rob Chudzinski is the head man, a former offensive coordinator on the best Browns offense of the last couple decades (2007). Chud then had success in Carolina designing an offense for Cam Newton. He seems to have a good offensive mind and, while I wasn't blown away by the selection, it could turn out to be a much safer pick than a wildcard like Chip Kelly.
His defensive coordinator is a guy I've always really liked, Ray Horton. He'll have a lot of new toys to play with and I'm interested in seeing his often wild, sometimes reckless blitz packages.
Chud will be complimented on the offensive side by old pro Norv Turner. There are indications out of OTAs that Norv is loving Weeden's arm and some say he has been comparing Josh Gordon to a young Vincent Jackson. One thing is for sure... Chud and Norv will be airing out the ball this year, which will be a delightful reprieve for Browns fans who've endured Shurmur's maddening dink and dunk West Coast Offense for the last few years.
*One really bad bit of news... Trent Richardson is out until August with an ankle injury. There have been some leaks that the staff fears it could be a stress fracture. If that's the case, I'm beginning to fear that Trent may be entering "injury prone" territory. Hopefully, it's just the team being exra cautious and nothing too serious.