The Cleveland Browns have been a floundering franchise for some time now. The last time that they posted a winning record was over a decade ago. So the fact that they even sniffed that possibility in 2018—and in fact had a very reasonable shot at doing it heading into the season finale—was pretty significant.
They fell just short, perhaps a successful long field goal away from 8-7-1, instead going 7-8-1, which is basically as well as you can do while still having a losing record. But they know the potential for their future is bright with 2018 first-overall draft pick Baker Mayfield at the helm, coming off a season in which he set the rookie record for passing touchdowns with 27, doing so in 14 games played.
With all that said, however, General Manager John Dorsey both tempered expectations and provided a dose of realism as he spoke to the media yesterday at the NFL Scouting Combine. After he was asked about the potential for trading for a top wide receiver like Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham, Jr., he originally joked that his cell phone was right in his hand for those teams to contact him.
But he later said this: “I don’t think we’re a team yet to go for it”. Meaning, he doesn’t see the Browns as a roster and a staff that is just one or two pieces away from competing for a Super Bowl title, which is generally the scenario in which a team would trade for such a piece that would ostensibly put them over the top.
“We have a young, talented team. Let’s build a foundation here, let’s build a team of substance”, Dorsey said. “We’re not done yet in terms of getting this thing right”.
The Browns are still very much a team discovering itself. They just named Freddie Kitchens their new head coach after he spent half a season as their interim offensive coordinator, and fired nearly the rest of the coaching staff outside of that.
The wide receiver group is led by Jarvis Landry, the Pro Bowler for whom they already traded last year, in addition to emerging rookie Antonio Callaway. Others like Rashard Higgins and Breshad Perriman could be brought back, but a big addition here would pay dividends.
Outside of perhaps one more really could wide receiver, the offensive side of the ball is pretty set. A complementary pass rusher and perhaps another defensive back or interior defensive lineman may be their top priorities otherwise.
Then it’s a matter of assembling this group of players into a cohesive team, which can be a more difficult task for a historically underperforming franchise. If they can get players to rally around Mayfield and believe in him, however, then perhaps they won’t have to wait too long to ‘go for it’.