The Browns’ roster isn’t loaded with talent – otherwise they wouldn’t be 5-11 every year -- but it’s not loaded with salary cap headaches, either. For that, Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi can thank former GM Tom Heckert.
Normally when there is a regime change, the new one inherits massive cap problems and an aging roster that needs to be deconstructed. Banner and Lombardi are lucky.
Heckert did the dirty work. He purged the roster of over-30 players and laid a young foundation at the expense of two losing seasons. Banner and Lombardi just have to build on top. They don’t have to bulldoze and uproot.
I’ve seen various reports of the Browns’ salary cap room. They range from $40 million to $48 million – and I haven’t seen the same figure twice. Suffice to say, the Browns are in great salary cap shape.
Here’s the problem. Salary capping was Banner’s wheelhouse. But now he has decided to reinvent himself as a personnel expert. And in a bountiful year of young GM candidates, Banner chose to resurrect friend Lombardi – five years out of the NFL after a not-so-glorious run -- as his chief personnel evaluator.
So things have been juxtaposed. Heckert’s expertise was personnel, but he did a good job of clearing cap space. Banner’s expertise was contract negotiating, and now he’s in charge of personnel. Typical for the Browns. Always bass ackwards.
Anyways, there’s a lot to be done. Here is our list of things to do.
1. Make a decision on the QB: As Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff once told me, “Until you find your quarterback, the search for him consumes you.” Banner and Lombardi – and owner Jimmy Haslam, for that matter – have damned Brandon Weeden with faint praise. But the reported alternatives to Weeden are less than scintillating: Alex Smith, Ryan Mallet, Brian Hoyer, Michael Vick, Chase Daniel. Chase Daniel? They ought to load up Weeden’s arm in Norv Turner’s offense and watch the spirals fly for another season. Is it too much to ask to have a quarterback start two years in a row?
Minus a cap crunch, Banner and Lombardi still have a lot to do this Browns offseason
ESPN.com | Feb 11