For whatever reason there just seems to be no team more non-descript in the NFL than the Cleveland Browns. It just seems that year after year the team is a meaningless franchise. In the last 10 years they have only had one season with more than 6 wins and their last playoff appearance came in 2002. They are now on their third front office reset in the last five years, turning to Mike Lombardi who has been off the field and in the TV studios for the last 5 years to try to save the team.
You won’t find too many more teams with more cap space than the Browns, which I currently have estimated to be around $45 million in 2013. The have what I believe is the fourth lowest real payroll in the NFL with only $66 million and change being spent on active contracts. So this is not a team that is going to be forced to make any to create cap space. These are simply going to be moves made to get better.
Who might be in trouble in Cleveland? LB Chris Gocong is coming off surgery and missed the entire 2012 season. He may not fit in with the teams’ new defense and is owed $4.55 million in cash compensation this year. QB Colt McCoy earned a hefty escalator in his contract to bump his salary to $2.325 million, which could be considered a bit pricey for someone just as likely to be the 3rd string QB as a starter. This is the final year of McCoy’s contract so a release post June 1 will not hurt the 2014 salary cap in any matter which would make me believe that he will at least see the summer and get to compete for the job unless another team offers a trade. McCoy has no offseason bonus money due to him.
Notable Free Agents
K Phil Dawson has been given the franchise tag designation two years in a row, which essentially makes him ineligible for another franchise tag in 2013. Per CBA rules a player tagged for the third time has the option of taking a salary equal to the average of the 5 largest salaries at the highest paid position in the league from the prior year, which is always going to be Quarterback. So using the franchise tag on Dawson would be approximately $15.261 million in guaranteed salary. While that would be comical if it happened I am guessing there is no chance it will.
Other free agents include CB Sheldon Brown, KR Josh Cribbs, and TE Ben Watson.
The Browns look to have six picks in this years draft. They used their second round pick in the supplemental draft last year and will flop 6th and 7th rounders with the Philadelphia Eagles to complete a trade from last season. My estimate for their year 1 salary is $5,434,322
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.