2009 NFL Offseason: Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns (Last Year: 4-12) Buy Tickets

2009 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Brett Ratliff, WR David Patten, WR Mike Furrey, TE Robert Royal, OT John St. Clair, G/OT Pork Chop Womack, G Fred Weary, DE Kenyon Coleman, DE C.J. Mosley, ILB Eric Barton, ILB David Bowens, ILB Robert McCune, CB Rod Hood, CB Corey Ivy, S Abram Elam, S Hank Poteat.
Draft Picks:
C Alex Mack, WR Brian Robiskie, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, LB David Veikune, LB Kaluka Maiava, CB Don Carey, CB Coye Francies, RB James Davis.
Offseason Losses:
QB Ken Dorsey, QB Bruce Gradkowski, RB Jason Wright, WR Syndric Steptoe, WR Joe Jurevicius, TE Kellen Winslow Jr., TE Darnell Dinkins, OT Kevin Shaffer, G Seth McKinney, G Scott Young, C Lennie Friedman, C LeCharles Bentley, NT Shaun Smith, NT Ethan Kelley, DE/OLB Antwan Peek, DE/OLB Shantee Orr, ILB Andra Davis, ILB Kris Griffin, ILB Bo Ruud, CB Daven Holly, CB Travis Daniels, SS Sean Jones.

2009 Cleveland Browns Offense:
When Eric Mangini took over, you knew he would do something to piss off Brady Quinn. After all, Quinn wasn’t “his guy.” Well, there were trade rumors during the free-agency period, and when the draft rolled around, many speculated that Cleveland would take Mark Sanchez. Nothing materialized, so the Browns are right back to where they started.

Quinn and Derek Anderson will battle each other for the right to start against the Vikings on Sept. 13. While Mangini insists that they’re on equal footing, my money is on Quinn. Anderson has proven to be horribly inconsistent; even during his magical 2007 campaign (3,787 yards, 29 TDs, 19 INTs), he completed only 56.2 percent of his passes. It got a lot worse last year, when in 10 games, his completion percentage dropped to 50.2. His YPA was a laughable 5.7.

Quinn has much more upside. In his first game last year, he went 23-of-35 for 239 yards and two scores. He struggled in his next two outings (a combined 22-of-54 for 279 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions) before he was lost for the season with a fractured finger. However, he was making the first three starts of his career, so the Browns owe it to themselves to find out what they have. They know what Anderson is. Quinn is an enigma who can legitimately be the team’s franchise quarterback for the next decade.

Unfortunately, neither Quinn nor Anderson will have much help. Kellen Winslow Jr. is gone, so the only proven target the two signal-callers will have is Braylon Edwards. Edwards shined brilliantly in Cleveland’s three Monday night games, but otherwise led the league in drops. After garnering 80 receptions for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2007, Edwards managed only 55 catches, 877 yards and three scores.

That said, I have Edwards high in my 2009 Fantasy Football Rankings for a simple reason – he’s in his contract year. Edwards can’t slack off and drop dozens of passes again; otherwise, he won’t make as much money next spring. His best bet is to try really hard in 2009, sign a huge deal and then revert to Sloth Mode once again.

With Winslow is gone, the Browns don’t have much at tight end. Robert Royal is a good blocker, but he’s not nearly as reliable in the passing game. Martin Rucker will be the team’s pass-catching tight end. Too bad he has just two career receptions.

Cleveland’s No. 2 target will likely be rookie wideout Brian Robiskie. I like Robiskie, and I have him relatively high in my fantasy rankings as well, but counting on a first-year receiver to be one of your primary downfield players is usually unwise. If Robiskie doesn’t pan out, Cleveland still has Mike Furrey, David Patten, rookie Mohamed Massaquoi, and Donte’ Stallworth, if he somehow eludes jail time and a Roger Goodell suspension.

The running game is even more bleak. Jamal Lewis, who turns 30 in August, has lost all of his speed. It’s actually really painful to watch a brilliant runner regress like he has. Lewis somehow topped 1,000 rushing yards in 2008, but averaged just 3.6 yards per carry behind a decent offensive line. Lewis didn’t break 100 rushing yards in any game last year.

Jerome Harrison and James Davis will make a case to take away Lewis’ touches. Harrison is a quick, third-down back, but at 5-9, 205, he can’t carry the load. Harrison averaged an impressive 7.2 yards per rush, but carried the ball just 34 times last season. Davis, meanwhile, has a better chance of taking over the starting job. Davis was once regarded as a high second-round prospect, but slipped to the sixth round because Clemson was awful in 2008. At 5-11, 210, Davis has the speed Lewis lacks.

The left side of Cleveland’s offensive line is as good as you’re going to find in the NFL. Left tackle Joe Thomas wasn’t as dominant as he was as a rookie, but he still did a sound job, giving up 4.5 sacks in a division comprised of top-notch defenses. Thomas hasn’t missed a start in his two NFL seasons. Left guard Eric Steinbach is one of the top players at his position, so you have to wonder what Mangini was thinking when he benched him during minicamp. Mangini reportedly wants Steinbach to gain weight – this is yet another case where Mangini is being an over-controlling, ego-maniac who can’t get along with anyone. Meanwhile, center Alex Mack is a rookie, but has been regarded by many as the top center prospect in more than 25 years.

The right side of the front is where the Browns are in trouble. Mangini did a great job downgrading the right tackle position. Kevin Shaffer wasn’t an outstanding lineman by any means, but he was passable. His replacements, Ryan Tucker and John St. Clair, aren’t even close. St. Clair, 32, allowed 9.5 sacks in 2008. Tucker, 34, has missed a whopping 26 games in the past three seasons.

2009 Cleveland Browns Defense:
The Browns couldn’t run or throw the ball well last year, so it was only fitting that they couldn’t get to the quarterback, or stop the run or the pass. Cleveland was 27th versus the rush (4.7 YPC), 26th against the pass (7.4 YPA) and 26th in yards allowed. The team also managed a laughable 17 sacks.

Despite sucking in every imaginable department, the Browns barely made any upgrades; instead Mangini signed mediocre (at best) players who fit his system. This includes David Bowens, who will start across from Kamerion Wimbley at rush linebacker. Bowens is 32 and coming off knee surgery, so he’ll be lucky enough to match his sack total of four from last year. Wimbley, the 13th-overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, had 11 sacks as a rookie, but has since mustered only nine. At least he plays the run well… Meanwhile, Alex Hall had three sacks coming off the bench as a rookie. He’s undersized, but should be able to push Bowens for playing time.

Mangini Addition No. 2 was inside linebacker Eric Barton. Barton was effective when he was in his 20s, but at 32, he’s past his prime. As any Jet fan will tell you, Barton isn’t a guy you want in your starting lineup. There is a chance that rookie David Veikune will beat him out. At 6-2, 257, Veikune will be a huge help against the run, and could look good next to D’Qwell Jackson, one of the better inside linebackers in the NFL. Jackson led the NFL in tackles in 2008, but has skipped some workouts because he’s looking for a new contract.

Mangini Addition No. 3 was acquired via trade when the former Jet coach traded away the No. 5 pick in 2009 NFL Draft for peanuts. One of the “peanuts” was Kenyon Coleman. Unlike Barton and Bowens, Coleman is actually a pretty solid player. He’ll line up next to 3-4 end Corey Williams and nose tackle Shaun Rogers on what is an expensive but overrated three-man line.

Rogers is a great nose tackle, but the problem is that Williams really struggled in his new 3-4 scheme last year. Cleveland’s old regime foolishly signed Williams to a 6-year, $38.6 million deal, thinking the 6-4, 320-pound monstrosity could easily transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Well, it’s not as easy as moving the two numbers around the dash, and it’s part of the reason why most of the people in the Browns’ old front office are unemployed.

Mangini Addition No. 4 was also acquired in the Mark Sanchez trade. That man is Abram Elam, currently penciled in as the team’s starting strong safety. Elam is a pretty marginal defensive back, and I really don’t understand why Mangini considered him a “deal-breaker” when the draft-day trade was going down. Elam is a downgrade over Sean Jones, who signed with the Eagles.

The rest of Cleveland’s secondary isn’t bad, though you won’t know it because the front seven won’t be able to get to the opposing quarterback. Eric Wright is a pretty sound No. 1 corner, while Brandon McDonald struggled early in 2008, but really rebounded late in the year. The newly acquired Rod Hood disappointed as a starter in Arizona, but should be a decent nickel. Free safety Brodney Pool has missed just one game in the past three seasons, but Mangini and his staff reportedly isn’t sold on him. Maybe that’s a good thing.

2009 Cleveland Browns Schedule and Intangibles:
The Dawg Pound is just not an intimidating place to play. Of Cleveland’s four victories last year, three came on the road. Since their expansion year in 1999, the Browns are a dreadful 28-52 as hosts.

Josh Cribbs managed only one touchdown on a return last year. “Only” is the key word, as he had three scores in 2007. The Browns also surrendered a score themselves.

Phil Dawson continued to kick well, nailing 30-of-36 attempts in 2008, including 5-of-6 from 40-49 and 3-of-6 from 50-plus. Dawson has been worse than 82.8 percent only once since 2002. Unfortunately, he’s holding out, and there’s growing speculation that he may not kick for Cleveland this year.

Dave Zastudil was not a “disastudil,” as Chris Berman would say, managing a 45.5-punting average, and 23 kicks inside the 20.

The poor Browns have to battle the Steelers (twice), Ravens (twice), improved Bengals (twice), Chargers, Vikings and Bears. Winnable games include: Denver (road) in Week 2, Detroit (road) in Week 11, Kansas City (road) in Week 15, Oakland (home) in Week 16 and Jacksonville (home) in Week 17.

2009 Cleveland Browns Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2009 Cleveland Browns Analysis: When you can’t run the ball effectively, throw the ball well, get to the quarterback consistently, hold opposing runners to less than 4.5 yards per carry, or stop teams from passing all over you, chances are you’re going to be one of the worst teams in the league. The Browns are, without a doubt, one of the worst teams in the league. And with the egotistical Eric Mangini micro-managing everything and alienating everyone, the future doesn’t seem bright.

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

2010 NFL Free Agents: Cleveland Browns

More 2009 NFL Season Previews

2009 NFL Draft Grade:

I’m willing to bet that Eric Mangini has weird, worthless crap scattered all over his apartment. I’m also going to guess that he eats Ramen noodles each night, as he watches his black-and-white TV.

How did I come up with this? Well, Mangini moved down from No. 5 to 17 in the first round for just a second-rounder, two backups and a developmental quarterback. Well, actually, Cleveland’s roster is so devoid of talent that the two backups will probably be starters.

I like Alex Mack and Brian Robiskie. But Mangini has done nothing to improve a horrific defense and a non-existent running game. Drafting your first linebacker at No. 52, who happened to be a mid-round prospect, is not a good move. Neither is failing to address the right tackle or inside linebacker positions.

Grade given on 4/27/09: C-

2009 NFL Draft Picks:

21. Alex Mack, C, California
A little early for Alex Mack? Maybe, but he’s a heck of a prospect. He bolsters the front and makes the Browns running game potent again. Still, center wasn’t nearly the team’s biggest need, and there were tons of quality defensive players available. (Pick Grade: B)

36. Brian Robiskie, WR, Ohio State
There aren’t too many quality receivers left on the board, so I get why the Browns drafted Brian Robiskie. He’s talented and fills a need. But what is Cleveland going to do on defense? Was Eric Mangini too busy delivering pizzas to watch the Browns-Eagles Monday night game? (Pick Grade: B)

50. Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia
Brian Robiskie was at least a highly regarded prospect. Mohamed Massaquoi? Not so much. He has his problems. This poor grade isn’t based on Massaquoi’s talent though; it’s more that Cleveland doesn’t understand positional value. (Pick Grade: D)

52. David Veikune, DE/OLB, Hawaii
Horrible value. It’s never good to take a mid-round prospect in the second round. Based on what Eric Mangini has done today, I can’t say I’m surprised. (Pick Grade: D)

104. Kaluka Maiava, LB, USC
Unlike some of their Day 1 picks, the Browns found solid value here. Kaluka Maiava also fills a need. (Pick Grade: B)

177. Don Carey, CB, Norfolk State
Another solid Day 2 pick. Corner depth is needed, and Don Carey belongs in this draft range. (Pick Grade: B)

191. Coye Francies, CB, San Jose State
Coye Francies has major character issues, but he’s a really talented player. A great gamble in Round 6. (Pick Grade: A)

195. James Davis, RB, Clemson
James Davis provides great draft value and fills a need. Davis should be able to take over for Jamal Lewis. (Pick Grade: A)

Season Summary:
Right now, it’s almost hard to believe that the Browns would have made the playoffs a year ago if Tony Dungy hadn’t foolishly benched his starters against the Titans. As a consolation prize, Cleveland fans were able to smile when a flat Indianapolis squad consequently bombed in the postseason as huge favorites against the Chargers. Unfortunately, that smile was wiped off once the Browns finished 1-8 after starting the 2008 campaign with a 3-4 mark. Other fans were also miserable; they had to endure countless nationally televised Cleveland games.

Offseason Moves:
  • Browns sign TE Nate Jackson
  • Browns cut OT George Foster
  • Buccaneers sign ILB Bo Ruud
  • Browns sign ILB Robert McCune
  • Browns cut ILB Bo Ruud
  • Browns cut WR Syndric Steptoe
  • Lions sign NT Shaun Smith
  • Browns sign G Fred Weary
  • Browns cut NT Shaun Smith
  • Browns sign OLB Blake Costanzo
  • Browns sign OT George Foster
  • Browns sign CB Rod Hood
  • Giants sign RB Allen Patrick
  • Browns sign WR Mike Furrey
  • Browns cut RB Allen Patrick
  • Browns sign ILB Bo Ruud
  • Browns acquire DE Kenyon Coleman, QB Brett Ratliff, S Abram Elam from Jets
  • Bills sign G Seth McKinney
  • Bears sign OT Kevin Shaffer
  • Browns sign WR David Patten
  • Browns sign CB Corey Irvin
  • Browns sign RB Noah Herron
  • Saints sign TE Darnell Dinkins
  • Browns sign OT John St. Clair
  • Cardinals sign RB Jason Wright
  • Browns sign ILB Eric Barton
  • Browns sign G/OT Pork Chop Womack
  • Browns cut OT Kevin Shaffer
  • Browns cut WR Joe Jurevicius
  • Browns sign ILB David Bowens
  • Chiefs sign CB Travis Daniels
  • Browns sign S Hank Poteat
  • Browns sign DE C.J. Mosley
  • Eagles sign S Sean Jones
  • Browns re-sign S Mike Adams
  • Browns sign TE Robert Royal
  • Broncos sign ILB Andra Davis
  • Buccaneers acquire TE Kellen Winslow Jr. from Browns for a 2nd-round pick (2009) and 5th-round pick (2010)
  • Browns cut DE/OLB Antwan Peek
  • Browns cut QB Ken Dorsey
  • Browns cut QB Bruce Gradkowski
  • Browns cut CB Terry Cousin
  • Browns hire HC Eric Mangini

    Offseason Needs:
    1. Rush Linebacker: The Browns had just 17 sacks on the year. Shaun Rogers and Kamerion Wimbley led the team with four each. Cleveland must put more pressure on the quarterback if it ever wants to make the playoffs again. Drafted David Veikune

    2. Defensive End: Shaun Smith’s interests: Punching Brady Quinn. Eating doughnuts. Not trying hard. The Browns really need an upgrade for their 325-pound blob. Signed C.J. Mosley; traded for Kenyon Coleman

    3. Inside Linebacker: Rejoice Cleveland fans, the pedestrian Andra Davis is history. Unfortunately, Beau Bell is way too injury-prone to be counted on, so there’s a very good chance Aaron Curry will be drafted No. 5 overall. Signed Eric Barton, David Bowens and Robert McCune; drafted Kaluka Maiava

    4. Running Back: As Emmitt would say, “Not only is Jamal Lewis the slowest man in the whole planet, Jamal Lewis is the slowest runnin’ back in the National Football League Conference.” Running back is a major need and it could be addressed as early as Round 2 of the 2009 NFL Draft. Drafted James Davis

    5. Right Tackle: Kevin Shaffer is the weakest link on a solid offensive line. He needs to be upgraded. Signed John St. Clair and Pork Chop Womack

    6. Wide Receiver: Donte’ Stallworth was a bust signing, while Braylon Edwards, who is coming off a miserable season, is in his contract year. Even if Edwards rebounds, Cleveland will need a No. 2 wideout. Drafted Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi; signed David Patten

    7. Safety: With Sean Jones gone, the safety position has to be upgraded. Traded for Abram Elam

    8. Cornerback: After a very slow start, Brandon McDonald played pretty well down the stretch across from Eric Wright. McDonald can still be upgraded and depth is needed, but corner is not a major need for the Browns at this moment. Signed Rod Hood, Hank Poteat and Corey Irvin; drafted Don Carey and Coye Francies

    9. Tight End: The Browns will need a tight end to compete with Martin Rucker in the wake of the Kellen Winslow Jr. trade. Signed Robert Royal

    10. Center: An adequate but unspectacular center, Hank Fraley turns 32 in September and should be upgraded pretty soon. The Browns do have bigger fish to fry, so this can happen next year. Drafted Alex Mack

    2009 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Rod Hood, CB, Cardinals. Age: 27.
      Signed with Browns (1 year)

      Rod Hood’s production has fallen off a bit recently, but he’s still a decent nickel option.

    2. Eric Barton, ILB, Jets. Age: 31.
      Signed with Browns

      Pretty much just a marginal linebacker at this point, Eric Barton is entering the final stages of his long career. He’ll be 32 in September.

    3. C.J. Mosley, DE, Jets. Age: 26.
      Signed with Browns (2 years, $5 million)

      A very solid depth player on the 3-4.

    4. John St. Clair, OT, Bears. Age: 32.
      Signed with Browns (3 years, $9 million)

      John St. Clair is as good as gone; he gave up the third-most sacks in the NFL of all left tackles. He’s nothing more than a solid backup at this point.

    5. Pork Chop Womack, G/OT, Seahawks. Age: 30.
      Signed with Browns

      One of the better backup linemen in the NFL, Pork Chop Womack was thrust into the lineup because of injuries this season. He started 14 games.

    6. Robert Royal, TE, Bills. Age: 31. – Signed with Browns (4 years, $10 million)
    7. Corey Ivy, CB, Ravens. Age: 32. – Signed with Browns (1 year)
    8. Hank Poteat, S, Jets. Age: 32. – Signed with Browns
    9. David Bowens, ILB, Jets. Age: 32. – Signed with Browns: 4 years, $7.2 million
    10. Nate Jackson, TE, Broncos. Age: 30. – Signed with Browns
    11. Bo Ruud, ILB, Patriots. Age: 24. – Signed with Browns
    12. Blake Costanzo, OLB, Bills. Age: 25. – Signed with Browns
    13. David Patten, WR, Saints. Age: 35. – Signed with Browns
    14. Fred Weary, G, Texans. Age: 31. – Signed with Browns
    15. Mike Furrey, WR, Lions. Age: 32. – Signed with Browns
    16. Robert McCune, ILB, Ravens. Age: 30. – Signed with Browns
    17. Noah Herron, RB, Jets. Age: 27. – Signed with Browns

    Cleveland Browns Free Agents:

    Salary Cap (As of Feb. 17): $17 million
    1. Sean Jones, S. Age: 27.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      Normally, strong safety is one of the few positions that’s not a weakness on Cleveland’s defense. However, Jones was banged up all year despite never missing a start prior to the 2008 campaign.

    2. Andra Davis, ILB. Age: 30.
      Signed with Broncos

      Andra Davis’ days as a starting inside linebacker are probably over, but he’ll be a valuable backup somewhere.

    3. Kevin Shaffer, OT. Age: 29.
      Signed with Bears

      One of the weakest links on Cleveland’s offensive line, but not a huge liability either. Kevin Shaffer will find a job as a spot-starter at the very least.

    4. Daven Holly, CB. Age: 27.
      Daven Holly was slated to start at corner this season. However, he tore his ACL and MCL, and missed the entire year. Who knows if he’ll be able to bounce back?

    5. Seth McKinney, G. Age: 30. – Signed with Bills
    6. Shaun Smith, NT. Age: 28. – Signed with Lions (1 year, $1 million)
    7. Antwan Peek, DE/OLB. Age: 29.
    8. Syndric Steptoe, WR. Age: 25.
    9. Travis Daniels, CB. Age: 26. – Signed with Chiefs
    10. Mike Adams, S. Age: 28. – Re-signed with Browns (3 years, $4.1 million)
    11. Jason Wright, RB. Age: 27. – Signed with Cardinals (2 years, $2 million)
    12. George Foster, OT. Age: 29.
    13. Lennie Friedman, C. Age: 33.
    14. Charles Ali (ERFA), FB. Age: 25.
    15. Shantee Orr, DE/OLB. Age: 28.
    16. Ethan Kelley, NT. Age: 29.
    17. Darnell Dinkins, TE. Age: 32. – Signed with Saints
    18. Kris Griffin, ILB. Age: 28.
    19. Scott Young, G. Age: 28.
    20. Bo Ruud, ILB. Age: 24. – Signed with Buccaneers
    21. LeCharles Bentley, C. Age: 29.
    22. Ken Dorsey, QB. Age: 28.
    23. Bruce Gradkowski, QB. Age: 26. – Signed with Raiders
    24. Joe Jurevicius, WR. Age: 34.
    25. Allen Patrick, RB. Age: 25. – Signed with Giants

    2009 NFL Free Agent Rankings

    Divisional Rival History:
    Baltimore Ravens: The new Browns swept the old Browns in 2007, but the old Browns returned the favor, sweeping the new Browns in 2008. Confused?
    Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer is 6-2 lifetime against the Browns, but he missed both meetings in 2008.
    Pittsburgh Steelers: Will Cleveland ever beat the Steelers again? Pittsburgh has won 17 of the last 18 battles.

    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2009 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

    MISSING 2009 NFL Offseason Pages

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12