clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Steelers Fans: Fear the Browns? A Framework for Discussion on Cleveland's Wheeling and Dealing

Thanks to maryrose for jumping out in front of this late last week with a prescient diary on the state of the Browns. Well, after the weekend, there's even more fodder worthy of discussion with our loveable losers along Lake Erie. Here's a brief synopsis of what the Browns did during the first week of free agency:

Players Retained:
Derek Anderson (3 years, $24 million, $14.5 mil guaranteed)
Jamaal Lewis (not sure of terms)
Nick Sorensen (3 years, $2.5 million)

Players Acquired:
Donte Stallworth (7 years, $35 million, $10 mil guaranteed)

Players Acquired Via Trade:

Corey Williams - via trade with Packers for 2008 2nd Round draft choice; 6 year deal, terms not yet disclosed, but reportedly in the $30-$40 million range with $15-$20 of that guaranteed

Shaun Rogers - via trade with Detroit for 2008 3rd Round draft choice and starting CB Leigh Bodden

Ok, let's work our way through this. I'll throw a few thoughts out there, but as always, jump in and fill in the blanks. My thoughts:

1) Good, good move to keep Anderson around. Anderson may or may not have the cerebral prowess necessary to be great, but he sure has the physical gifts: the cannon for an arm, the heighth to see over opposing linemen, and good enough feet to break contain and throw on the run. And for those who think he's too much of a gambler and too careless with the football? You may be right, but it's too early to say with any certainty. He's only 24 years old mind you, and 2007 was his first full season as a starter. As for his accuracy? Sure there's question marks, and I said as much here on 'Curtain after our second meeting with the Browns. Remember though, Cleveland's offense is designed to be a 'homerun', big-play offense, not a dink and dunk timing oriented scheme that requires your QB to throw the ball at a 60-65% clip. Final thought: I can't wait to see how the Browns handle this one. If they are wise, they give Anderson through '09 to show what he's got. Can you imagine if the Steelers pulled the plug on Big Ben after '06? Granted, we didn't have a 1st round draft choice waiting in the wings like the Browns do. It could be a tough year for all of the AFC North, as I outlined in a review of the 2008 schedule. What will they do if the Browns go 7-9 or 8-8 and miss out on the playoffs again by just a game or two?

2) No comment on this Soresen guy. He was cheap, and is apparently a special teams ace. I have no idea if he'll be able to be a starter in their secondary, a unit that was obviously one of the weaker links of their squad last year.

3) It's hard to evaluate the Jamal Lewis signing without first knowing the specifics of the contract, but my initial thought is that they will regret this one. Lewis had a great year in '07, proving to his naysayers that his career was far from over. Without having to deal with some of the injuries that slowed him down during his final two years in Baltimore, Lewis was able to run for 1304 yards and 9 TDs on 298 carries, good for a 4.4 average. His 216-yard outburst against Cincinnati inflated those numbers a bit, but heck, he did gain the yards, and he was generally a very consistent producer for the Browns' rushing attack in 2007. However, it was a contract year. Never underestimate the power of a contract year. Now, not all money is guaranteed in the NFL like it is in the NBA and MLB. So, Lewis can't just disappear off the face of the earth, but let's be real here. This will be Lewis' final big payday in his career. There's very little money left on the table for him to go out there and earn. Will he do the same things he did to get himself in great shape this past year going forward? Will he fall back into some of the same behavioral patterns that landed him in jail while a Raven? Who knows, but it's in play, at least, in my opinion.

4) The Donte Stallworth deal is the one that I suspect many people will have a strong opinion on. I'll be brief here and see what you guys have to say. Two things: yes, it's a LOT of money for a player who's now on his 4th team in 4 years. But, the contract is fairly back-loaded so it's not quite as gaudy as it might seem upon initial thought. However, if you pay Donte Stallworth that kind of money, what do you have to shell out to keep Braylon Edwards and Kellon Winslow Jr. when they hit the open-market in '10? Winslow, who had to renegotiate after his motorcylce accident, is already grumbling about wanting a new deal, and with super-agent assclown Drew Rosenhaus representing him, things will probably get ugly as soon as this summer. In short, I think the deal makes the Browns even more dangerous in the short-term, and the fact of the matter is that we're going to see plenty of marginally great players like Stallworth cash in like that in the future. But, Joe Jureviscious isn't getting younger, Winslow may leave for greener pastures if he doesn't get paid, and there's no telling how the QB situation will pan out.

5) All I've read and been told is that Corey Williams is a great guy and a fabulous football player. I typically don't invest much of my little free time watching the NFC North so honestly, I have little to say about him. I have heard that he's really the prize addition of the offseason for the Browns. For all the headlines that guys like Quinn, Anderson, Stallworth and Lewis may get, the fact is the Browns will not be competitive unless they can stop the run, shore up their pass defense, and well, basically just play much better on defense. Williams should help in that regard. Fill me in on this guy's ability and career up until this point.

6) And finally, Shaun Rogers. Another mercurial talent who has the ability to make Phil Savage look like a genius or a goat. Sure Rogers may have his problems with his weight, and there was the criminal incident to be concerned about in his past, but two things: A) He's only 27 years old and B) if Crennel can push the right buttons, he's still one of the 5-10 guys in the league that most offensive linemen will admit not being excited going up against on Sunday.


Weigh in Steelers fans. Are we to be concerned about the Browns? I feel weird just typing that. But, they have a modicum of stability at the QB position (for now), a slew of weapons to catch Anderson's lasers, a vastly improved offensive line anchored by last year's first round selection Joe Thomas, and two legitimate forces on the defensive line.

The trade off though for such acquisitions? A compromised 2008 draft, gobs of guaranteed money on the books through the early years of the next decade, and a brewing QB controversy that must be handled adroitly if they are to make the next step forward in this window of opportunity they have created for themselves. As hard as it is to believe, the Browns are now relevant.