Now that the NFL’s “First Season” is over, and the New England Patriots, the NFL’s team, has been crowned, the “Second Season” –free agency, trades, the draft and training camp– is underway. Hope springs eternal — at least until the reality of the Patriots winning again settles in around July. Until that time, every NFL team is hard at work perfunctorily building a team good enough to lose to the Patriots. It seems like John “Kemo Sabe” Dorsey is committed to building on the recent success of the Browns, aided by self-appointed personnel director Jarvis Landry. The Second Season moves the Browns should pursue are:
One Trade: Von Miller: Outside Linebacker/ EDGE
Denver Broncos linebacker/ edge rusher Von Miller played well enough against the Browns last season to keep them in the game, even recording his 98th and franchise-tying sack. Their ineffective offense was their own worst enemy. Even Miller may not be enough to keep the Broncos competitive before they are forced to blow the team up.
Miller, who could be a deadly bookend with Myles Garrett, could make the Browns’ defensive line nigh unstoppable. Although signed until 2022, Miller’s opt out goes into effect in 2020. With the bloom coming off of Broncos’ General Manager John Elway’s rose as of late, Miller might be interested in greener pastures next year. The Browns keep coming up as a pick/ trade/ cap friendly partner. If Jimmy Haslem’s tactic of free-agent frugality is to pay off, this might be the perfect time for it to do so. Miller will earn $17 M in base salary this year, with a $300,000 signing bonus and other various clauses. The best part for both teams is his dead cap space is almost $30 M. The Broncos can get rid of a contract that might alleviate the rebuilding process, while the Browns might be able to eat this and not be much affected. Even as a one-year rental, Miller would have a far greater chance to go deep in the playoffs on an upstart Browns team than a downtrending Broncos team.
One Free-Agent Signing: Rodger Saffold: Offensive Guard
As written about last week, lifelong Browns fan Saffold is a free agent. Despite the flat performance by the Los Angeles Rams’ normally potent offense in the Super Bowl, Saffold has been no small part of The Rams’ success. A solid veteran run-blocker is someone the Browns have lacked recently. Saffold’s best chance at a Super Bowl victory is still with The Rams; however, pulling a LeBron-esque “hometown hero” move could be attractive for the Bedford native. Saffold is an unrestricted free-agent this year, and the Rams should at least throw him a decent offer. After his rookie contract, Saffold gave the team a slight “hometown discount” to stay on The Rams in 2014, but will remain to be seen whether he and The Rams will agree to renew him. Sure, it’s not as ironically sexy as the Browns trying to steal running back Le’Veon Bell from the Steelers, but running backs Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson might appreciate it.
One Pick: D. K. Metcalf: Wide Receiver
With top receivers Metcalf and A.J. Brown, one wonders why Ole Miss’ offense was not better. Metcalf tore up the Southeast Conference before injuring his neck during the Arkansas game. He had 26 receptions in seven games with 569 yards and 5 TDs, averaging 21.9 yards-per-catch. A receiver perfect for the AFC North, Metcalf is a matchup nightmare. He can take the top off of a defense, muscle his way through tough yards, or use his shiftiness to make the tough catch. While it would be tempting to get “Greedy” (Apologies.), good cornerbacks can be poached off of other teams for decent money (see McCourty, Randall). If Dorsey is reluctant to draft Metcalf, he shouldn’t let Metcalf’s lack of experience deter him. Metcalf was redshirted, so, technically, he has three years of playing time.
Dorsey has a weighty juggling act, for sure. No offense to self-appointed assistant GM Jarvis Landry, the position of need for the Browns with the least need for development is wide receiver. The soundest choices are to spend some of that abundant cap money on solid veterans and just to tell a rookie who can run fast to run fast. For a franchise willing to take the next step, stability starts on both lines. Whatever the direction or tactic he will take during this Second Season, Dorsey will no doubt make the best Browns decision.