Looking At the Cleveland Browns Salary Cap and Coaching Vacancy

The Cleveland Browns front office shocked the football world yesterday when they fired head coach Rob Chudzinski after just one season.  While the Browns were just 4-12 in 2013, Chud probably deserved at least a second season. Anyways, now that he’s gone, I actually must say that I view Cleveland as an enticing landing-spot for whoever ends up taking his place.

The defense—with Joe Haden, Phil Taylor, Ahtyba Rubin, Paul Kruger, Barkevious Mingo, D’Qwell Jackson and (impending free agent) T.J. Ward—is not short on talent.  While the offense  struggled this past season, there were a few bright spots; Joe Thomas has long been the best LT in football, Josh Gordon proved he is a legitimate top-tier WR and Jordan Cameron emerged as a true playmaking TE.

It’s obviously impossible to win in this league without a quarterback, and the combination of Brandon Weeden/Jason Campbell isn’t going to win any coach many games. Cleveland was actually at its best when Brian Hoyer, who showed some positive signs early in the year, was at the helm.  Unfortunately he tore his ACL in a week 5 Thursday night start.

The Browns have the 4th overall pick this year, which they will almost surely use on their next franchise quarterback.  They also have a massive hole at running back—but did net the Colts’ 2014 first round pick after trading them Trent Richardson early in the year.

Looking at the 2014 Salary Cap estimates that Jason posted yesterday, the Browns will be loaded with plenty of cap space. As I said this past week, I could see Cleveland as potential landing spot for Chris Johnson once he is inevitably released from Tennessee. Cleveland may also use some of this money on upgrading their #2 WR position opposite of Josh Gordon.

As for who the new coach might be?

Browns GM Michael Lombardi is largely connected to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. In February 2011 while working as a columnist for NFL Network, Lombardi had this to say about then Patriots backup Brian Hoyer: I think if I was still in the league and needed a quarterback, instead of chasing (Kevin) Kolb, I would chase Brian Hoyer of the Patriots. If teams evaluate New England’s Week 17 game against Miami, they’d see that Hoyer demonstrates the skills needed to be a starter.” (link here).  The Browns then signed Hoyer and pushed him into the starting role once Lombardi arrived in Cleveland as the GM.

Moreover, Lombardi’s son, Mick, an up-and-coming coach, got his start in the league as a scouting assistant with Belichick’s Pats in 2012 (he recently left to join the 49ers staff). While Lombardi’s opinion in Cleveland may matter less than both Owner Jimmy Haslam’s & CEO Joe Banner’s, I would bet that Lombardi is making a strong push to bring in Belichick disciple (and current Patriots OC) Josh McDaniels as the Browns’ next coach.

Andrew Cohen
  • Michael Goetze

    The question is whether it would be a smart move for Josh McDaniels to take the job. Getting hired by Lombardi in Jan 2014 and then fired by Jimmy H in Dec 2014 would not be my idea of a good career move. Brian Hoyer might just barely be a starter (and we don’t have a lot of evidence to go on) but he’s certainly not a top-tier QB – a couple of years of 8-8 or 7-9 might seem like a great success to some Browns fans but they won’t set up McDaniels as an A-Lister for life.

    McDaniels is young and he already has one failed HC stint on his resumé. I would certainly advise him to make sure his next HC job is one where he will succeed, and there is no rush to find it.

  • Ghoston

    Great cap situation, 2 first round picks, but Manziel is not the answer. I really think they have to go the Cutler route but he will be franchised tagged which defeats that signing. Plus no one knows this ownership I can’t tell if they are any good.

    • Michael Goetze

      Well, if you want Cutler but can’t get him, you could always pick up Sam Bradford once he gets cut.

  • Ghoston

    Bradford is awful. The team is ****ed once again.

  • Ghoston

    Mc Daniels must be the coach. They just hired the defensive co. Swartz. That would be retarded to hire the de coordinator before the coach, but mc Daniels has to wait til after the playoffs.