We’ve spent a lot of time going over every little detail about the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s kind of our thing.
But it’s fun to step back for a moment, breathe, and look around the rest of the AFC North. Specificlaly, the punching bag of the North. The Cleveland Browns.
If there’s anybody left.
Now, you have to give them some credit for showing restraint in free agency. Not throwing gaudy sums of money at players who aren’t worth it. They’ve established themselves with a strong head coach hire and an interesting blend of analytics in the front office.
But there might not be any players left to coach.
Since free agency has opened up, the Browns have lost five players. Four starters. And have yet to make a single signing.
Mitchell Schwartz. Alex Mack. Tashaun Gipson. Travis Benjamin. Johnson Bademosi. The first four key starters, the last one a core special teamer.
An already weak team, a 3-13 club in 2015, getting gutted. Two starters along the offensive line. Their top receiver and safety. Three of them leaving Cleveland, staying in the AFC. It’s the status quo. Their default state. Mediocre football. And for 2016 at least, in what they hope and spin as a rebuilding phase, another rocky season.
This isn’t to endlessly rip the Browns, as much fun as it is to many. Hue Jackson is their best head coaching hire since Bill Belichick, who obviously still struggled as a coach but gave the team a glimmer of success in 1994. The line lost two starters but has depth and hopefully health this upcoming year.
But despite Sashi Brown’s claims of “keeping their own,” the Browns have done very little of that. Some of that is self-created, a toxic environment players were looking to bolt out of as soon as their contract expired. Here’s what Travis Benjamin had to say about leaving the Browns.
Travis Benjamin on if it was tough leaving Cleveland "Not at all." Said without hesitation
— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) March 11, 2016
It isn’t Hue Jackson’s fault. He inherited the mess. It can’t be turned around in a day. But three days into the new year, there is no hope of getting out of the muck anytime soon.