FA target #3: Andy Levitre

Has not missed a start in four years.

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I think we’ve done good work shoring up the Browns’ defense here at kanick with the additions of Keenan Lewis at CB and Dannell Ellerbe at ILB.  Both are upgrades over the incumbent Brownie and both increase the physical presence.  Both also should be bring some needed ‘AFC North’ DNA from their old teams.  God knows we can use more Steeler and more Raven style play here.

What’s next?

Woody agrees.
All praise Woody.

Well.  When in doubt, I’m always pro investing in the offensive line.

Philosophically, I think football games are won at the line of scrimmage.  I think you build your line first.  I think all great teams share the trait of owning the LOS.  I’m old school in this way.  A great o-line can make Randall Cunningham at 15-1 QB.  A great d-line can reduce Tom Brady to a puddle.

I like the way our o-line is shaping up.  But if we’re being honest, even with Thomas, Mack, and Schwartz, we got pretty lucky at guard with Jon Greco coming in and playing great after Pinkston’s injury.  Even though he’s been pretty durable, Shawn Lauvao hasn’t been overwhelming.  We don’t know how Pinkston will be after his injury.  And putting the individual evals aside, added depth on the o-line is a good thing.  Like,, who knew losing Billy Yates would be one of the critical injuries of 2010?  But it was.

(PS, Ryan Miller is NOT depth.)

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Andy Levitre, 26, Oregon State, 6-2/306.

Hasn’t missed a start in four years.  I can’t think of a cleaner statistic for a guard.  Let’s face it:  I’m not breaking down film here so foot-work waist-bending critiques are not part of this commentary.  Stats-wise, reviewing Bills ‘sacks allowed’ isn’t a perfect metric with all the other variables involved.  (Although the Bills were 23rd in sacks allowed which is better than the Browns.)

Nice rating from PFF.  I readily admit that I don’t know how they arrive at their ratings.

Oregon State Beaver so he and Keenan Lewis will have lots to talk about.

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Screen Shot 2013-02-13 at 7.39.05 PM

TOP 20 Guards RANKED BY 2013 CAP HIT. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

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What will it take to get him.

Good news is that Bills won’t franchise Levitre.  They almost have to use that tag on Jairus Byrd.

This page says they’re sitting at $100MM and add $10MM for Byrd and they’re not in great shape to get into a bidding war for a guard.

Bills president Russ Brandon stated Friday that Buffalo has yet to open extension talks with free agent LG Andy Levitre and FS Jairus Byrd.

Byrd is an obvious franchise-tag candidate because the franchise number for safeties is so affordable. Levitre, ideally, would be signed to a long-term deal. “As far as talks are concerned, there’s nothing at this point that’s concrete,” said a noncommittal Brandon. “We would love to have both guys back.” Feb 1 – 5:44 PM

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On the other hand Byrd and Levitre are the only UFAs on the Bills that they’ll want to keep unless you think also Leodis McKelvin belongs in that category.

Bills may have to choose between getting into the Alex Smith hunt, the Dwayne Bowe chase, and keeping Levitre.  Hard to see them choosing the guard over those two.

If Browns manufacture something in the top 10 of guards range, say $6MM + $1MM bonus, this seems very do-able.

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I’m hearing about the Browns’ good cap position.  How good is it?

I’ve been consulting spotrac.com for my data.  I subscribed, not sure what I’m getting that you may not.  (Please let me know if I’m giving out inaccessible links.)  It seems a pretty up-to-date source.  For example, here’s their transaction tracker.

Anyway… if you look at the Browns’ 2013 cap hit page, we’re sitting at $74MM.  I don’t know, I don’t claim to know exactly what this means.  I understand it to be a snapshot of the Browns cap situation as it stands now.

It seems useful when using it in comparison to other teams’ cap situations.  For example here are the teams whose FAs we’ve been coveting:

  • Bills = $100.5MM (with Byrd a priority);
  • Ravens = $106.5MM (Flacco, Kruger, Ellerbe, Pitta -and Reed- all unsigned; but Ray Lewis relief seems probable.  Can they keep Boldin?);
  • Steelers = $133.5MM (Roeth restructure, Harrison dump seem inevitable.. and they’ll still struggle to sign Lewis and Wallace).

With the 2013 cap looking like ~$120MM it seems like these teams will figure out something.

But when the Browns are a solid $30MM below all these teams, you can see that we have a rare opportunity to make hay this season.

[I’ve excerpted this section separately here.]

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So gents, what say you?  I hope you’ll agree with me that adding three rock-solid starters at areas of weakness is a better investment than one fast WR when we have a couple of those already.

Bringing in Lewis and Ellerbe and Levitre would be better than the best draft the Browns ever had.

One more thing:  let’s up the ante on the dialog.  If you’re reading this, you’re not the problem but you can still help your bros get smarter with the message that there is no one magic bullet.

You liked Flacco in the playoffs and SB, so did I.  But he’s playing behind McKinnie, Yanda, Birk, Oher.  He got an improved OC mid-season.  He’s got Rice and Boldin and Pitta and Smith.  Hell, Vonta Leach was all-pro.

It’s never as simplistic as getting ‘an elite QB.’

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  • One reason SOBO and I get along is that we both were upset when Billy Yates went down in 2010 (then retired a year later). Yet, Yates is the reason why I tend to think that free agent and high draft pick guards are a bit of a reach. I would contend that John Greco was as solid as most guards last season and Lauvao wasn’t as bad as most people thought. Of course, a player like Levitre would be an upgrade and there is no doubt that I was a huge fan of Marshal Yanda (after Yanda destroyed A. Rubin twice in 2010).

    But the point is that G’s can be had. It’s more important to draft and sign the T’s and to find a solid C (thanks, Mangini). While I could make another argument about how ILB’s are also overvalued, I’ll just say that WR and a SLOT CORNER would be my hypothetical “If I were the GM” priorities.

    • >>>One reason SOBO and I get along is that we both were upset when Billy Yates went down in 2010.>>>
      then i’ll get along with you two also because i saw the same thing.

      you can trace mangini’s demise to the fujita and yates injuries in the the jets game. without those, browns probably beat the jets and surely beat the jags. (once the jags realized that lauvao+womack was bad, they beat the bag out of mccoy and the whole game changed.) win those two, beat the panthers and dolphins, and the team is 7-5 going down the stretch and you have an entirely different story.

      anyway: i like greco. i find pinkston and lauvao.. ok? but having ryan miller behind them is unacceptable. he truly sucks. so while the line is good, it’s also very thin. levitre fixes that.

      if the point is OGs can be had; i say let us have a very good one. we really do have an abundance of cap space and the rest of the league really is, for the most part, porked. it’s a unique opportunity to pick up top tier players. i’ve had with the cast off free agent signings. no more pashos. no more patterson. no more usama young. no more porkchop womack.

      besides, some guards can set the tone for the whole line. (i wouldve loved logan mankins here.)

      i want to sign the FAs whose current teams want to keep!
      we’re uniquely positioned to bring in difference-makers this year and we should.