CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns have a lot of money to spend this offseason – as in over $47.35 million in salary cap space.
Just don’t expect them to go on a wild fantasy football-like shopping spree when free agency officially opens next Tuesday. The reason is simple – championship teams are built through the draft and use free agency to fill 1 or 2 primary needs in the offseason.
And that’s the blueprint that general manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine plan to follow.
“There’s a lot of pieces in place,” Pettine said. “But we’ve also realized that there’s some areas where we need to add some depth and that’s why the amount of cap space we have and the amount of draft picks we have is so appealing. I think we’re going to be able to turn over and fill some of those spots on the roster we feel there might be some needs, we can fill them pretty quickly.”
Pettine along with his coaching staff and Farmer have assembled their offseason shopping list and identified the holes that need to be filled in free agency or through the draft.
“Sometimes its hard to say what the market will bear with a lot of players,” Pettine said Monday night while making an appearance at the Cleveland Auto Show at the I-X Center. “You never want to be that team that kind of goes out there and is into those super big contracts day 1.”
With several needs that need addressed this offseason including receiver, running back, guard, inside linebacker, and the secondary Farmer and Pettine plan to spend wisely.
“Having worked in Baltimore with Ozzie Newsome, it was always right player, right price,” Pettine said. “I think those 2 things have to go hand in hand. You can find the right player but you don’t want to overpay for him. You can have the right price but if it’s the wrong player it doesn’t work.”
The Browns also have their own players to take care of that are entering the final year of their contracts – Joe Haden, Phil Taylor, Jordan Cameron, and Jabaal Sheard while Josh Gordon, Billy Winn and John Hughes will need extended next offseason.
Haden’s extension is almost done and he’ll most assuredly become one of the highest paid corners in the game.
They are also hopeful they’ll get a few cap dollars back by getting center Alex Mack under a long-term deal. The team has set aside $10.039 million in cap space to accommodate Mack’s transition tag tender if he does not receive any offers starting on March 22.
Combine their needs with core players that need taken care of and that’s why a $47 million in cap space might seem like a lot of wiggle room, but the reality is that if the Browns don’t spend it carefully, they could find themselves in cap trouble quickly.
That’s something that Farmer and Pettine will work hard to avoid.
So while fans scour the web for free agent rankings and assemble wishlists of their own, the Browns have already done it, but don’t plan on spending recklessly.
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