If you can only have one…


Both Daryl Smith and Arthur Jones showed up on do-want UFA ballots.

Yesterday, our friends at Red Right 88 revived the “5 Questions in 5 Minutes” technique for creating interesting blog posts.  Perfected at Cleveland Reboot, 5-in-5 selects a handful of men of letters and poses five questions serving as a jumping off point for a regular Cleveland sports Algonquin Roundtable.

There was one question in particular that seemed simple but is actually a devilish conundrum-producing puzzle.

The Browns can only sign one outside free agent.  Who do they go after and why?

Predictable right?  Six Cleveland Browns focused panelists will yield six Jairus Byrd votes, right?  Nope:

Jeff RichMTAF (and Cheddar Bay)Byrd
Dave KolonichReboot, EmeritusArthur Jones
MeHereVontae Davis Rodger Saffold
Murray AlexanderEast of EhloDaryl Smith
Jonathan Knight@jknightwriterRunningback X
Mike KrupkaDBNByrd

I think this is terrific.  Byrd, ok fine; Kolonich takes Arthur Jones because we’re all playing checkers; I really like o-line help in general and Saffold in particular; Daryl Smith… interesting especially if you’re looking for pass cover; obviously we need a RB, less obvious is that it might be the top priority; and Byrd.

This got me wondering how you all would answer this question.  So here on the eve of free agency with a pocket full of cash, you can only sign one player:  

Who is the one player would you sign?


  • Both Mack and Ward are re-signed;
  • Any UFA selected must play for the Browns (i.e., players don’t get to opt out in favor of Miami’s jet-skis and strip clubs.).

Other notes:

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 8.02.03 AM

Cro not good last year.

  • Anyone else tending to believe the Antonio Cromartie rumor?  I very much didn’t like this when Barnwell mentioned it:  Cromartie was 109th out of 110 CBs last year.  But on reflection, I understand he was playing hurt and here again I have to trust Pettine until he causes me to question him.  Pettine would know Cromartie… and he is 6’2″…
  • Anyone tending to believe the confluence of Ward highly sought after and Donte Whitner news springing from Dustin Fox sounds legit?  Ward out, Whitner in?
  • Anyone else got a sinking feeling that Mack’s agent has something ominous brewing and that the Browns will lose two All-Pros in free agency?

Wouldn’t that be Brownsy?  $50M in cap and coming off a four win season, Berea manages to be the only team in NFL to lose two All-Pros in free agency?

Alrighty, that’s all for now.  Who you got?

  • jpftribe

    Moot now, Whitner and Dansby, with Revis in the picture still?

    Kahlil Mack ay No 4 and they can spend the rest of the draft on O.

    • when you look at the draft, it’s thin at ILB.. deep at WR..

      • Petefranklin

        Please get two WR’s out of this draft. One(Watkins or Woods) absolutely has to be as good as or better than Gordon. The other needs to be good enough to sign a second contract in Cleveland.
        That is all I ask from the FO in may… a grand slam and two run double!
        So far so good, it’ll be great when Haden gets extended!
        ^^^ so what^^^

    • actovegin1armstrong

      I have been watching stuff and I am convinced that Alex Mack’s little brother Kahlil is the best player in the draft! No clowning around here.

  • bupalos

    I don’t really get the question. Is the idea that the Browns only get 1 FA, period? In that case, I’d take Verner at corner (or Revis when released) because that’s simply and mathematically the correct choice. It would be total economic and football nonsense to take say Tate or Saffold over Verner.

    If you’re just saying which is the FA move you feel most certain about, I actually think it’s the relatively low-impact and middle-of-the-road Moats for me. Strange choice, but I’m fairly sure he’ll be worth more than the money he gets and fairly sure he’s more valuable to the Browns right now than anyone else. Like twice as valuable.

    • it just means you get one pick. i approached just like you: “most expensive position? CB. best CB? [i settled on vontae davis but whatever.] [then i flip-flopped to sate my o-line fixation.]” but it’s interesting how other smart football watchers come up with other paths, that’s all.

  • Bluedog93

    I recall a few years ago, when Mack was in his second season, there being stories in the national media about how hapless the Browns were — no argument here — and how some players on their first contract were just waiting out their time with the Browns until they could sign with a real team. I remember thinking when I read those reports that, if they were true, the player would probably be Mack or Haden. It could still be true — after five seasons of double-digit losses, the guy may want to go to a winner more than he wants the transition tag money. If he doesn’t believe this front office is different from the ones he’s had in the time he’s been here, I can’t say I blame him.

    I do laugh at the “but the CBA outlaws poison pills” argument. While gimmicks like what Seattle and Minnesota did may not work any more, of course any halfway competent GM and agent could put together a contract that worked for Team A’s situation but didn’t for Team B.

  • zarathustra

    It seems to me that the browns may have orchestrated this with the hope that mack would walk. The difference in number between transition and franchise tags is only a couple million or so which is nothing to sneeze at to be sure but is relatively negligible from a cap perspective when you have $50m or so and it is highly unlikely you spend near that this year. So why not use the franchise tag and make it essentially impossible for another team to sign him? Maybe they have questions about his value and don’t want to commit long-term to a center at his price, but they know it would be a p.r. disaster to just let him walk–especially considering that they are already letting ward walk. So now he can walk and guess who gets the blame? Not ray farmer.
    Not saying I agree with this approach but it is hard for me to see it any other way.

    • Petefranklin

      If they would have franchised him, he would be gone next year for sure after overpaying him on his way out. No team would negotiate in good faith with a franchised player.
      I really think the hope is that a team will try to sign Mack at market value and the Browns can match it. Mack is definitely NOT walking this year. If no offers come though, the Browns should count on him holding out as that would be Mack’s only card left to play.

  • maxfnmloans

    As you may recall, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ward. Sure, he can lay the wood and make some hits that would have gotten him on “JACKED UP” back in the day, but they must not have taught Geometry in Oregon because he takes some awful pursuit angles at times. He’s also got poor form in his tackling. Too concerned with blowing people up, which looks awesome when it works, not so much when it doesn’t. I know the metrics grade him well, and he’s one of the higher ranked SS per PFF..

    Buuuuuuut…if there is a dearth of true, old school “strong” safeties in the NFL (mainly due to rule changes where an extra coverage guy is more important than a guy to come into the box for run support) does it matter if he’s “highly rated”? Also, being a “Pro Bowler” doesn’t mean much what with all the injury reserves and because the SB teams players aren’t in it, and again with the relative weakness of the Safety position. Pro Bowler < All Pro. Short story made long- I'm ok with letting Ward go. Especially because Whitner is a very close comparable (big hits, poor tackling form) but at a lower cost.

    As far as Mack goes, I think we've all been blissfully ignorant on this far too long. Yes we need to keep him. yes, he is worth the investment. And yes, Joe banner screwed the pooch by not5 taking care of this LAST offseason, but if Mack wants to go and is instructing his agent to try and get something constructed the Browns can't match, welp, what are we gonna do? Cry about it? Blaming Joe Banner isn't going to help, since he already got fired. The only thing I can peg on Farmer is why they would transition him and give his agent the ability to engineer anything. I still can't seem to rationalize that move.

    For free agents, if there can be only one, I think I might go with Ben Tate. We have to have a competent running game. We haven't had much of one since the year Mack and Byner both went for 1,000 yards. He is familiar with the "one cut" running style of the zone blocking scheme. He will hit the hole and not slow his momentum before doing so. He played hurt last year for a 2 win team and never complained. I'm about to use a cliche, but it's cliche for a reason: a QB's best friend is a good running game. I know the Shanahans seem to find running backs out of thin air, but if we're really going to go ahead and give Hoyer his shot this year (because no Andrew Luck in draft) then I don't think we should fart around , and that means getting as much talent around him as possible so it is easier to succeed. Trying to bank on more Shanahan 6th round RB magic might work, but if it were an investment strategy, it might be akin to burying all your money in a big mayonnaise jar in the backyard. Also, Pettine comes from Rex, and what do they like to do? Ground and pound, baby, ground and pound.

    • btw (because i doubled checked): ward actually was (2nd team) all-pro, not just pro-bowl. ditto that on mack.

      man, if pettine wants to build out a ground/pound o-line like the 2009 jets when their heart and soul was thomas jones running behind faneca/ mangold/ ferguson/ woody… that’s more than super excellent with me. (dumping TJ for LDT was the beginning of the end of a promising jets team. (imo))

    • actovegin1armstrong

      I like Ward, but I must agree he is not that valuable as an asset. He is a run stopping safety in a passing league. His pursuit angles leave a little to be desired too, he picked up those bad habits in college where the people he was playing against were not all faster than he is. Welcome to the NFL. (Noticably Faster League)
      This may be a good year to spend some on defense and let the offense flounder so that we may begin The Great Shanahan Rebellion! 3 or 4 more top draft picks, all new coaches on offense, then two more years to “gel”, and I can see the Browns as an 8-8 team by 2020!

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