On one hand, you have to give Mike Holmgren credit for putting his stamp on this team. On the other, you have to wonder: were this many changes necessary?
We’re still a month away from the draft and Holmgren has made an entire offseason’s worth of moves. With the recent flurry of transaction now complete, I think its time to breakdown the Browns moves and give Holmgren his mid-offseason grade.
Jan. 7 – Browns decide to keep Mangini
Mangini’s first season in Cleveland was nothing short of a complete disaster. True, he turned things around down the stretch, but any progress he made in those final weeks has now been undone by Holmgren’s dismantling of the franchise. You have to wonder if Holmgren isn’t keeping Mangini around just to keep the seat warm for himself.
Feb. 18 – Browns release Jamal Lewis
Everyone could see this move coming a mile away. Lewis wasn’t performing, and he wasn’t happy. He was due to earn $3.9M in 2010 and he just isn’t worth it anymore. It created a gaping hole at running back, which the undersized Jerome Harrison can’t fill on his own, but it was a necessary decision.
March 4 – Browns don’t offer tender to Brodney Pool; becomes free agent
Not bringing back an injury-prone safety who’s coming off a concussion walk can’t be viewed as a terrible decision, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt to offer him his 2nd-round tender and then attempt to pull off a trade. When healthy, Pool is a quality starting free safety and it looks as though he’ll get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jets.
March 4 – Browns trade Corey Williams to Lions for 5th-round pick
Aside from Shaun Rogers, Williams was easily the Browns next most productive defensive lineman over the past two seasons. He adjusted nicely to playing defensive end in their 3-4 scheme and was an anchor on the defensive line. ProFootbalFocus’ grading system rated him the 3rd best 3-4 defensive end in 2009. And all they could get in return was a 5th-round choice? Assuming that really was all that was being offered for Williams, the smart move would have been to keep him around. The Browns aren’t exactly bursting at the seams with talented defensive players, so why dump one for a 5th-round pick?
March 9 – Browns release Derek Anderson
This was an unfortunate, but necessary, move. It’s not easy to release a 26-year-old former Pro Bowl quarterback, but Anderson simply hasn’t lived up to expectations the past two seasons. He was due a $2M roster bonus on March 19, and it didn’t look like anyone was going to be interested in pulling the trigger on a trade for an overpriced backup.
March 14 – Browns trade Brady Quinn to Broncos
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You cannot judge a quarterback based on 12 starts. And you certainly can’t judge him based on 12 starts during which he was surrounded by absolutely no talent. I’m not saying Quinn will become the next John Elway in Denver, but he deserved another shot with the Browns. In return the Browns received Peyton Hillis (a backup FB/RB), a 2011 6th-round draft pick and a conditional pick in 2012.
March 14 – Browns trade Kamerion Wimbley to Raiders for 3rd-round pick
While trading your best pass-rusher is rarely a good idea, this won’t be a crippling move for the Browns defense. Matt Roth and David Bowens are capable starting linebackers and the coaching staff is also high on Marcus Benard. The addition of the 3rd-round pick give the Browns five in the top 100, which will help them retool a roster which is depleted of talent.
Clearly Holmgren’s strategy here is to make the Browns “his” team. If owner Randy Lerner is willing to be patient it could work out in the end, afterall Holmgren has been to three Super Bowls. However, he went to those Super Bowls as a coach. As a GM in Seattle he struggled and was eventually demoted. At this point he’s committed himself to a 3-year rebuilding project, if not longer. Its too early to give him a failing grade across the board, but its certainly possible that he’ll leave the Browns worse off than when he took over. As the roster stands today on March 15, its hard to imagine the Browns winning more than one or two games, with the distinct possibility that they go 0-16.
Overall Mid-Offseason Grade: C-