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2012 NFL Offseason: Cleveland Browns

Draft Grades, Season Previews, Offseason Needs, Free Agents



Cleveland Browns (Last Year: 4-12)

2012 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
DE Frostee Rucker, DE Juqua Thomas-Parker.
Draft Picks:
RB Trent Richardson, QB Brandon Weeden, OT Mitchell Schwartz, DT John Hughes, WR Travis Benjamin, ILB James-Michael Johnson, G Ryan Miller.
Offseason Losses:
RB Peyton Hillis, OT Tony Pashos, G Eric Steinbach, DE Jayme Mitchell, S Mike Adams.

2012 Cleveland Browns Offense:
The Browns should have traded up for Robert Griffin. They didn't offer enough to beat the Redskins in the sweepstakes to move to No. 2 overall - apparently because they believed that the Baylor product was too small - so they were stuck with the fourth selection. Obtaining Griffin was Cleveland's one chance to escape the AFC North cellar and eventually overtake both the Steelers and Ravens. Mike Holmgren blew it.

Cleveland was still able to find a new quarterback in the 2012 NFL Draft. The front office wanted to acquire Brandon Weeden in the second round, but panicked at No. 22 when its original target, wide receiver Kendall Wright, was snagged off the board two picks earlier. Holmgren had no Plan B, so he just opted to go with Weeden at that spot, which was just too ridiculously early for a quarterback who will turn 29 in October. There's no guarantee Weeden will even be successful; nearly every single Big XII quarterback has flopped recently because the conference is what this Web site's Charlie Campbell calls the "Arena League of College Football."

Weeden can't really be much worse than the brittle, weak-armed Colt McCoy, who was only remotely successful when he had a power ground attack complementing him. Weeden will definitely have that luxury with Trent Richardson, chosen third overall this past April. Richardson, the best prospect at his position since Adrian Peterson, is a strong runner who is very good at catching the ball out of the backfield. He's seldom going to leave the field because he IS Cleveland's offense. It'll be a major upset if he doesn't win Offensive Rookie of the Year and doesn't finish in the top 10 in terms of total yards from scrimmage.

The Browns will lean on Richardson so much because they don't really have any receivers to speak of. Their best one is second-year Greg Little, who led the league in drops per target. Little is athletic and has upside, but needs to improve his focus and work ethic. The good news is that Little has reported to OTAs in terrific shape, so maybe he's overcome his lacking maturity. The Browns can only hope so because he can be a No. 1 wideout; Weeden compared him favorably to Justin Blackmon.

There is no hope with the other receivers. Mohamed Massaquoi should not be starting for any team. Fourth-round rookie Travis Benjamin has great speed (4.36 40), but he's very raw and small. Tight end Ben Watson suffered three concussions last season, so another one could knock him out for a long time. Evan Moore, the team's pass-catching tight end, has never been utilized as much as he should have because he's always had to block.

Moore will continue to assist the offensive line because that unit hasn't improved very much. The only upgrade was made in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, where the Browns selected Mitchell Schwartz out of Cal. Schwartz projects as a rock-solid NFL right tackle, but obviously lacks experience. Still, he can't be any worse than Tony Pashos, who surrendered seven sacks last year. Schwartz will start next to third-year right guard Shawn Lauvao, a poor blocker who was guilty of 11 penalties and six sacks in 2011.

The two top lineman on Cleveland's roster are easily left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack, both of whom are among the best players at their respective positions in the league. Sandwiched between them is left guard Jason Pinkston, who is coming off a truly horrible first campaign. Fifth-round rookie Ryan Miller will push him.





2012 Cleveland Browns Defense:
The Browns were one of the worst teams in the league last year, but their defense wasn't terrible. Though they were porous against the run and struggled to pressure the quarterback, they ranked 11th versus the pass in terms of YPA (6.93).

Improving the former two categories will be difficult considering that defensive tackle Phil Taylor, Cleveland's first-round pick in 2011, has been ruled out for most of the season with a torn pectoral. There's a chance he could return in late November, but the Browns' season will be lost by then. Taking Taylor's spot in the lineup next to the talented Ahtyba Rubin will be one of two rookies - either third-rounder John Hughes or sixth-rounder Billy Winn.

Cleveland signed two defensive ends this offseason, but neither will really improve a pedestrian pass rush that accumulated only 32 sacks (24th in the NFL). Frostee Rucker was a solid run-defender for the Bengals, while Juqua Thomas-Parker is a decent situational pass-rusher, but neither will really help the Browns boost their sack total. It will once again all be up to the young Jabaal Sheard, who tallied 8.5 sacks as a rookie. Five-and-a-half of those came after Week 10, so Sheard could take a leap forward in 2012.

The Browns didn't just dish out big contracts to mediocre defensive ends; they gave inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson a 5-year, $42.5 million deal in February. Jackson was overpaid considering the amount of money (or lack thereof) that the other top inside linebackers received on the market, but he's still a really good player. Jackson tallied 158 tackles, but has a dubious injury history. He played in just six total games in 2009 and 2010.

Jackson will need to stay healthy because the rest of the linebacking corps is unimpressive. Both Scott Fujita and Chris Gocong are major liabilities in coverage. Cleveland spent a fourth-round pick on James-Michael Johnson, who may have to step into the lineup prematurely if the two starters continue to struggle. Johnson will see time right away because Fujita will sit out three games for his role in Bountygate.

With two linebackers deficient in coverage, one would assume that the secondary was largely responsible for that aforementioned 12th ranking. That assumption would be correct. Joe Haden is awesome. The Pro Bowl cornerback limited opposing receivers to a 49.4 completion percentage.

The rest of the defensive backfield also played pretty well. Strong safety T.J. Ward was outstanding for the first half of the year, but had his season conclude unceremoniously because of a sprained foot. Usama Young and Mike Adams performed pretty well after Ward exited the lineup. The latter is no longer with the team, so Young will battle it out with 2011 seventh-rounder Eric Hagg for the right to start next to Ward. Hagg appears to have the edge right now.

The only area of concern in the secondary is the starting corner job across from Haden. Sheldon Brown was decent at times last year, but he celebrated his 33rd birthday this offseason, so he could easily regress. If he does, either Dimitri Patterson or Buster Skrine will take over. The former is just a mediocre talent, while the latter barely played in his rookie campaign.





2012 Cleveland Browns Schedule and Intangibles:
The Dawg Pound is just not an intimidating place to play. Since their expansion year in 1999, the Browns are a dreadful 37-67 as hosts (10-22 the past four seasons).

Joshua Cribbs didn't return well in 2010, but definitely rebounded this past season. His punt return average increased from 8.4 to 11.4, while his kickoffs extended from 20.4 to 25.0. He scored a touchdown as well. However, the Browns surrendered two.

Phil Dawson continued to kick well, nailing 24-of-29 attempts, including an unbelievable 7-of-8 from 50-plus. He was rewarded with a franchise tag this offseason.

Punter Reggie Hodges had a solid 2010 campaign, but suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in last year's training camp. The good news is that he's a full participant in OTAs.

The Browns don't have many winnable games on their schedule. Beatable non-divisional foes include: Bills (home), Colts (road), Raiders (road) and Redskins (home).



2012 Cleveland Browns Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):

Quarterbacks
Offensive Line
Secondary
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams
Receivers
Linebackers
Coaching


2012 Cleveland Browns Analysis: The Browns are a complete mess. Their alleged franchise quarterback is a 29-year-old who comes from a conference that has produced dud signal-callers over the past several years. His only play-maker is a rookie running back, while the right side of his offensive line can't block. The defense, meanwhile, lost one of its top talents to what could be a season-long injury.

It's going to be another very long year in Cleveland. The good news is that if the Browns are terrible enough, Matt Barkley will be waiting in April.

Projection: 2-14 (4th in AFC North)


2012 Fantasy Football Rankings


More 2012 NFL Season Previews

*** 2012 NFL OFFSEASON NEEDS BELOW COMMENT BOARD ***


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mike holmgren 04-30-2012 09:24 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.187 (total posts: 1)
30     17

fu ck you i noob
waynerd 04-30-2012 09:01 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.191 (total posts: 1)
27     10

The Weeden pick was terrible. They should have taken BPA like Decastro or weapon like Fleener then waited until the late 2nd early third and taken Russell Wilson. Wilson will be a great west coast QB. Just watch the tape of him making all the throws and he has the mobility and accuracy needed.
Onutz 04-30-2012 06:37 pm xxx.xxx.xxx9.65 (total posts: 1)
24     25

I know all you want a be GM's bash what is going on in Cleveland, but the truth is we are getting better...and with this draft we did. I"ll list the reasons why and my own analysis of the Browns Draftees.

3. RB T.Richardson...best Off. player behind the luck and RG3...he will help the QB by actually blocking on passing downs. help keep the other defenses honest...plus keep our defense fresh...which is why the run defense sucked last year.

22. QB B.Wheeden...3rd. best QB available regardless of his age...he is accurate and has a cannon. McCoy's issue was/is he is an anticipation type QB and has serviceable arm strength at best...but cannot thread the needed into tight spaces when needed, especially in the AFC North. Wheeden's arm allows him to zip the ball when needed, while also having the other attributes to go with it. I like that he is older and has faced some adversity. Like Kurt Warner...he has something to prove.

37. RT M.Schwartz...best true RT in the draft...he is big and strong and flat out just gets the job done. And is scary nasty at the line of scrimmage. Above average in pass blocking and run blocking. He will start and be highly productive for years.

87. DT J.Hughes...Good pick...good athlete who can get after the passer and be stout against the run...his best asset...is his motor. This has been a big swing change for the Browns philosophy since the new front office came in. Hughes never quits...he is a relentless defender and will do well with Rubin and Taylor.

100. WR T.Benjamin...this is my favorite pick...and IMHO not a reach at all, people forget Heckert chose to get DeSean Jackson in Philly...This guy is a better...because he doesn't come with the "DIVA" mentality. When he scores, he hands the ball to the Ref then seeks out his teammates, plus he's not afraid to go across the middle and get hit like Jackson is. Everyone keeps saying he is undersized...he is the same size as Jackson...and there isn't a team in the league that wouldn't want that kind of explosiveness...certainly if it didn't come with an entitlement attitude and DIVA issues. His fastest 40 time 4.26...but he is regularly clocked at 4.30-4.34. I love this pick and this kid.

120 LB J-M Johnson... this guy will help Browns run defense tremendously... side line to side line and diagnoses plays quickly and attacks. Solid pick with a high upside and solid ability day one. And again a great motor...

160 G R.Miller... a massive Guard with a tackles body make up. Again another nasty in your face blocker, plus he brings a great deal of versatility and could actually turn into a better tackle than guard...which if that was the case you could kick Schwartz inside. Miller is still a work in progress but a solid pick overall. The Browns line is significantly younger and better than it was at the start of the new front offices' regime.

204 LB E. Acho... A great tackler and has good instincts for the position. A good addition to help sure up the Run Defense. He gobbled up tackles while at Texas and he should do the same in the NFL. While continuing the theme of a player with great motor.

205 DT B.Winn...He dropped because of injury and questions about his commitment. I think this kid will end up being a great fit... but I think he would be better suited at Right DE. Which is I think where they will try to fit him in...barring he slims up a little so that he can play faster.

245 CB T.Wade...reminds me a bit like Haden actually...when watching video of him. Plays faster with pads on, so it kinda negates his slower 40 times. Sometimes he looked inconsistent, but it comes from the expense of him trying to make plays down field. Should be a solid nickle guy and allow Buster Skrine to cover the burners.

247 FB/TE B.Smelley... he's an H-back... great special teams player...and obviously well coached. I like this pick for two reasons...one it gives TRich some continuity, and he provides another possible receiving threat for the QB.

----Overall I like the picks and where they came. We needed a speedster to take the top off of the D and keep them honest..especially to go along with TRich. Where do you send the extra man...in the box or cover deep??? I want the Defenses to have to guess... Plus a blocking back and an O-line that can give more time to the QB that has the arm to get it deep down field. Other than Richardson there have been no great splashes in Free Agency or the draft, but all-in-all we have gotten better as a team and will surprise a few teams next year. I predict 8 and 8 record....if Richardson has a monster year we will be better than .500.
fte88 04-30-2012 04:59 pm xxx.xxx.xxx6.17 (total posts: 3)
44     26

A league source tells ESPN Cleveland that Hughes would have been selected before the end of the 3rd round if the Browns had not selected him. The source said that Hughes had been fielding calls from multiple teams indicating they would select him with their third round pick. The Browns just pulled the trigger first.

B-b-but....the media didn't have him high on their draft boards!!!!!!
Face Palm 04-30-2012 04:19 pm xxx.xxx.xxx3.10 (total posts: 1)
60     16

Like the Swartz pick, Winn Pick and James Michael Johnson picks a lot.

John Hughes in the 3rd? This kind of BS is why the Browns will be in the cellar yet again. Terrible pick, one of the worst in this draft.
Yo Walt 04-30-2012 03:44 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.173 (total posts: 1)
20     12

I think Brandon Weeden is gonna tear it up... and I hate the Browns.
You're an idiot 04-30-2012 02:03 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.130 (total posts: 1)
43     8

Are you a freaking retard? A guard who gets banged around gets an F so a QB who is 27 also gets an F.

Make me a list of the Guards who play past 33 and then the QB's in the league who do. Then i'll accept your logic.

Right ... let's follow your logic on Schwartz. If they would have taken a reciever you would have said "Jon Martin and Cordy Glenn were still on the board ... who would have been perfect fits to protect their QB."

WHo cares where you mocked John Hughes. Where did you mock Vontaze Burfict? You are the pete carroll of mock drafters ... you think you have an idea but it's getting pathetic to see that you don't even try.
Brett 04-30-2012 01:27 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.159 (total posts: 1)
14     11

The draft is a game of chance, and I have no issue with them taking a chance on him at #22. Yes, he's older, but if they get 5-6 good years out of him, that would be a big deal for a franchise that's been in the cellar for a long time.
Fat40 04-30-2012 12:18 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.254 (total posts: 2)
15     9

One more thing: We will be looking for a replacement for Weeden in two years when it becomes apparent he is NOT a franchise QB. This team needs a FRANCHISE QB, not just someone who is slightly better than Colt. Check out the history of the 4th QB selected in the draft. The Browns have had two in recent years: Charlie Frye and Colt McCoy. The last two fourth QB's taken at the end of the 1st round were J.P. Losman and Rex Grossman! Woo Hoo! Let the Losman-era begin! Where do I get my playoff tickets? 3-13 this year if we are lucky...
Fat40 04-30-2012 12:14 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.254 (total posts: 2)
17     7

All of my fellow Browns fans who think Weeden was a good pick don't know the first thing about drafting. Its not about quality, its about VALUE. You don't take a guy at 22 you can get at 37. And you most certainly do not take a guy in the 3rd round you can get as an undrafted free agent! David DeCastro was available at 22, and he is projected by many to be a perennial All Pro. Can anybody say that about Weeden? Furthermore, good teams make the most of their picks in rounds 3-5. With a talent depleted roster like the Browns, they cannot afford to reach and/or draft for depth. They need STARTERS. This was a Butch Davis-level bad draft. D+ at best
fte88 04-29-2012 11:17 pm xxx.xxx.xxx6.17 (total posts: 3)
14     11

I can't see how Hughes doesn't fill a need. The Browns most certainly needed another DT or 2 to rotate with Taylor and Rubin. Not that I love (or really even like) the pick, but saying it wasn't a need is foolish.
@I watch film, you don't! 04-29-2012 09:29 pm xxx.xxx.xxx9.87 (total posts: 1)
30     14

Youtube isn't game tape you retard, so you don't watch "film" either.
Curtis Stein 04-29-2012 09:20 pm xxx.xxx.xxx0.73 (total posts: 1)
20     16

Based on your individual grades, that evens out to be a 2.6(ish). Which is a C+.

I dont think anyone "panicked". This is a professional organization, and Tom Heckert is one of the best GM's in the league. That being said, saying they "Panicked" is pretty ignorant.

Saying that Brandon Weeden was a reach is more accurate. It seems the the Browns fell in love with Weeden when he visited the team, and they wanted to lock him down. Cleveland media has spoken with many experts prior to the draft and many of them didnt think Weeden would have made it to 37. (I think he would have.)

I also think that Cleveland would be better off with a WR at 37, and a player like Bobby Massie later in the rounds.

With the addition of the 2 linemen, Cleveland has upgraded their line which was ranked 7th going into last season. The injury to Eric Steinbach forced Jason Pinkston to start at LG. Pinkston ended up being a quality LG, but the lack of separation, no offensive coordinator, Chris Obo. not knowing his blocking assignments, and colt holding onto the ball too long made the Oline look much worse than it was.
Cleveland now has a top 5 Offensive line, and a (presumably) top 5 RB in trent Richardson.

The Ground game should open up the passing game, so Brandon Weeden just needs to be game manager his first 2 years as he learns the west coast offense. (Like Alex Smith, and Joe Flacco)

Cleveland fans, expect McCoy to be traded prior to the first preseason game. McCoy will beat out Weeden if left in Cleveland. If he stays, and Weeden is Forced to start (which you must with a 29 year old QB) then the locker room will be divided.

After a half of a season Weeden has the chance to be better than McCoy, but the WCO is a complicated one, and Weeden just came from a very simple spread.
randy 04-29-2012 06:52 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.251 (total posts: 1)
16     26

i would actually give the Browns a solid B. They added the best offensive player in the draft not a QB, upgraded their QB position(you will see what was missing as soon as you see Weeden throw it down field), and upgraded the D to stop the run. We also added a CB who can at the very least compete as a nickle, and we drafted the #1 ranked RT which was a GLARING NEED. We might not make a playoff run yet, but i would say we can finish .500 this year.
Adam 04-29-2012 05:56 pm xxx.xxx.xxx5.99 (total posts: 1)
25     18

I hate that the Weeden pick is bashed just because of his age. Most are saying he won't have a long lifespan in the league. Well think about it.. If Weeden can offer a solid 3-4 years of QB play in Cleveland, that will be better than any other QB since the Browns returned in 99.





2012 NFL Draft Grade: C-

Goals Entering the 2012 NFL Draft: No one wants to play for the Browns, per certain reports. Whether you believe them or not, there's no denying that this Cleveland team doesn't appear as though it's going anywhere. There's no franchise quarterback, while the offense as a whole lacks play-makers. The 2012 NFL Draft will be all about bolstering the scoring unit.

2012 NFL Draft Accomplishments: There's nothing worse than targeting one player in a certain spot and then panicking when that prospect is plucked off the board a selection or two earlier. That's exactly what happened to the Browns at No. 22. They were set to take Kendall Wright, but then had to reach for Brandon Weeden when Tennessee took him at No. 20. Mike Holmgren did not have a Plan B.

If Weeden can be a franchise quarterback, this will be a good draft class. However, that's unlikely. He'll be 29 soon, and by the time he figures things out, he'll be in his 30s. He'll be 33 when his first contract is up. Oh, and then there's the dubious history of Big XII quarterbacks flopping in the NFL. Weeden should not have been a first-round pick, and Cleveland must be heavily downgraded for that.

Some other choices didn't make much sense. Both John Hughes and Travis Benjamin were major reaches; the Hughes pick was particularly confusing because it didn't fill a need and failed to upgrade the offense. On the bright side, Trent Richardson will be a stud, while various late-round selections provided great value.



2012 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

3. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama: A- Grade
This would be an A if Mike Holmgren wasn't duped into trading up to No. 3. Still, he gave up just a fourth-, a fifth- and a seventh-round pick for him, so I'm not going to penalize Cleveland very much. Trent Richardson is the right pick because he's the best player available and fills the greatest need. Colt McCoy was decent with Peyton Hillis before Hillis started dreaming about becoming a CIA agent, so maybe McCoy can become competent again.

22. Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: F Grade
I gave the Eagles an F last year for drafting a 27-year-old guard, so I'm dishing out yet another F for a geriatric player. Brandon Weeden turns 29 soon. By the time his first contract is up, he'll be 33. As in, near the end of his career. This move reaks of panic; Cleveland really wanted Kendall Wright, and Mike Holmgren apparently did not know what to do once the Titans made the surprise selection.

37. Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California: C+ Grade
There were three receivers worth taking here, so the Browns selected... a right tackle? What? I like Mitchell Schwartz; he projects as a decent pro. But who the hell is Brandon Weeden going to throw to? And what about Cordy Glenn and Jonathan Martin?

87. John Hughes, DT, Cincinnati: Matt Millen Lonely Night Kielbasa Porn Grade
I mocked John Hughes in the seventh round. He wasn't above No. 249 on any major big board. He doesn't even fill a need. This is a terrible selection.

100. Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami: D Grade
Scouts Inc. had the highest grade on Travis Benjamin than anyone else, and they slotted him at No. 173. This is not the type of pick you make atop Round 4.

120. James-Michael Johnson, ILB, Nevada: B+ Grade
I mocked James-Michael Johnson here to the Browns at this very spot, so I can't exactly bash this pick. It's a good one. The Browns are lacking in depth at linebacker, and Johnson is a good range fit in the middle of Round 4.

160. Ryan Miller, G, Colorado: B- Grade
I thought the Browns would take Ryan Miller in the sixth round, so I think this is a bit high for him. The pick makes sense though. He fits the blocking scheme and will provide much-needed competition for Jason Pinkston, who was terrible last year.

204. Emmanuel Acho, LB, Texas: A- Grade
Cleveland was expected to select two linebackers in the 2012 NFL Draft. Emmanuel Acho is a fine selection. He's versatile and should have gone a round earlier.

205. Billy Winn, DE/DT, Boise State: A+ Grade
Major steal. Billy Winn could have easily gone in the third round. I actually like Winn better as prospect better than Cleveland's third-round selection John Hughes.

245. Trevin Wade, CB, Arizona: A+ Grade
I thought Trevin Wade would be a fourth-round pick. He was actually No. 79 on a major big board. This is great value and fills a need. The Browns need a No. 2 corner, and Wade should be able to compete for that job.

247. Brad Smelley, TE, Alabama: B+ Grade
The Browns don't need a tight end, but Brad Smelley provides a bit of value at the end of Round 7. Ben Watson will be a free agent next spring, so Cleveland needed a contingency plan at the position.



Season Summary:
Another year, another playoff absence. Since the Browns reentered the league in 1999, they've made the playoffs only once (2002). They're the only team in the AFC North that doesn't have a franchise quarterback, so maybe that's the reason why. Fortunately, they'll have a chance to land Robert Griffin this April.




Offseason Moves:
  • Browns cut DE Jayme Mitchell
  • Dolphins sign OT Artis Hicks
  • Broncos sign S Mike Adams
  • Browns sign DE Juqua Thomas-Parker
  • Browns re-sign OT Oniel Cousins
  • Browns re-sign CB Dimitri Patterson
  • Browns re-sign DT Brian Schaefering
  • Chiefs sign RB Peyton Hillis
  • Browns sign DE Frostee Rucker
  • Browns cut G Eric Steinbach
  • Browns re-sign TE Alex Smith
  • Browns re-sign G John Greco
  • Browns cut OT Tony Pashos
  • Browns franchise K Phil Dawson
  • Browns re-sign ILB D'Qwell Jackson


    Offseason Needs:
    1. Quarterback: There are a handful of Cleveland fans in denial about this, but Colt McCoy is not a franchise quarterback. The Browns will never be a perennial playoff contender until they acquire one. As mentioned, Robert Griffin could be theirs this April. Drafted Brandon Weeden

    2. Wide Receiver: The Browns' offense is so limited because they don't have a No. 1 receiver. Greg Little could be a nice secondary option down the road if he stops dropping passes. Cleveland could consider Alshon Jeffery or Kendall Wright with their second first-round selection. Drafted Travis Benjamin

    3. Right Tackle: Colt McCoy's not that talented, but he never had a chance because he was constantly running for his life. There are two major holes on Cleveland's offensive line. The most glaring one is at right tackle, where Tony Pashos surrendered seven sacks despite missing several weeks of action. Drafted Mitchell Schwartz

    4. Defensive End: Cleveland had only one player who could consistently pressure the quarterback - rookie Jabaal Sheard. Jayme Mitchell struggled immensely, so he'll need to be upgraded. Signed Frostee Rucker and Juqua Thomas-Parker

    5. Cornerback: Sheldon Brown is on his last legs, while fifth-round rookie Buster Skrine barely played last year. Skrine could develop into a solid cornerback, but Cleveland will still need depth (and a starter in case Skrine doesn't.) Re-signed Dimitri Patterson

    6. Outside Linebacker: Add in an inside linebacker if D'Qwell Jackson isn't re-signed. Chris Gocong was recently extended. He played OK at weakside linebacker last year. He could stay there, or move to the strong side depending on what the Browns do in free agency and the draft. Re-signed D'Qwell Jackson; drafted James-Michael Johnson

    7. Running Back: Peyton Hillis is as good as gone. Montario Hardesty can't stay healthy. The Browns need a talented running back to either complement Hardesty or replace him when he goes down again. Drafted Trent Richardson

    8. Two Guards: Make it two guards if Eric Steinbach, who is coming off back surgery, doesn't agree to take a pay cut to reduce his $6 million salary. Jason Pinkston and Shawn Lauvao did a poor job last year. Drafted Ryan Miller

    9. Free Safety: Mike Adams is a serviceable starter, but he's a free agent. Cleveland could stand to upgrade him anyway.

    10. Defensive Tackle: Depth is needed behind Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin. The Browns are really thin there. Drafted John Hughes

    11. Kicker: Phil Dawson had some issues in the middle of the season, but he still drilled about 82 percent of his field goals. He's a free agent, however. Franchised Phil Dawson







    2012 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Frostee Rucker, DE, Bengals. Age: 28. -- Signed with Browns (5 years)
    2. Juqua Thomas-Parker, DE, Eagles. Age: 34. -- Signed with Browns (1 year)



    Cleveland Browns Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. D'Qwell Jackson, ILB, Browns. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Browns (5 years, $42.5 million; $19 million guarantee)

      D'Qwell Jackson is really good if he's healthy. He played in just six total games in 2009 and 2010, but he dominated in 2011 because he was finally able to stay on the field.

    2. Phil Dawson, K, Browns. Age: 37.
      Franchised by Browns

      Phil Dawson missed a couple of game-winners in the middle of the season, but he finished 24-of-29, including 7-of-8 from 50-plus.

    3. Mike Adams, FS, Browns. Age: 31.
      Signed with Broncos

      Mike Adams is a serviceable free safety. The Browns could upgrade him, but they have way too many other things to focus on this offseason.

    4. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. Age: 26.
      Signed with Chiefs (1 year, $3 million)

      Peyton Hillis is a tough runner with good pass-catching ability when healthy, but the problem is that he's always banged up. He's just way too unreliable, and his fumbling issues don't help.

      Update: Hillis reportedly has thought about quitting football to become a CIA agent. Umm... what? Teams will definitely question his dedication.

    5. Eric Steinbach, G, Browns. Age: 32.
      Eric Steinbach was once regarded as one of the better guards in the NFL, but he struggled in 2009 and 2010, and then missed all of 2011 with a back injury that required surgery. Perhaps he can rebound and become an effective player again, but that probably won't happen.

    6. Dimitri Patterson, CB, Browns. Age: 29. -- Signed with Browns (3 years, $16 million; $6 million guaranteed)
    7. Tony Pashos, OT, Browns. Age: 32.
    8. Brian Schaefering, DT, Browns. Age: 29. -- Re-signed with Browns
    9. Jayme Mitchell, DE, Browns. Age: 28. -- Signed with Buccaneers
    10. Alex Smith, TE, Browns. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Browns (1 year)
    11. Titus Brown (RFA), ILB, Browns. Age: 26.
    12. Steve Vallos, G, Browns. Age: 28.
    13. Artis Hicks, OT, Browns. Age: 33. -- Signed with Dolphins (1 year, $2 million)
    14. Oniel Cousins, OT, Browns. Age: 28. -- Re-signed with Browns
    15. John Greco, G, Browns. Age: 27. -- Re-signed with Browns


    2012 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon



    Divisional Rival History:
    Baltimore Ravens: The old Browns have beaten the new Browns in the past eight matchups.
    Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer was 9-3 lifetime against the Browns. Andy Dalton is now 2-0.
    Pittsburgh Steelers: Pittsburgh has won 22 of 23 against Cleveland.



    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2012 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well - Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings


    More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:

    DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
    CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
    ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
    ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
    BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
    BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
    HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
    DEN / KC / OAK / SD /




    2012 NFL Offseason Pages


    Fantasy Football Rankings - July 24


    2016 NFL Mock Draft - July 24


    2015 NFL Mock Draft - July 23


    2015 NBA Mock Draft - July 1


    NFL Free Agents


    NFL Picks - Feb. 2



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