Ed Puskas: Browns seek momentum with moves


This just in from the “no kidding” file:

When an NFL team goes 1-31 over the last two seasons and 0-16 in 2017, it isn’t exactly going to have big-name free agents beating a bath to its door.

That, of course, is the bad news about the Cleveland Browns.

But the Browns weren’t exactly reeling in top free-agent talent even before Hue Jackson “led” them to records of 1-15 and 0-16 in his first two seasons. With just two winning seasons since the expansion franchise made its debut 1999, the Browns role as a free-agent outlier was solidified long before anyone in the current front office arrived in Cleveland.

The good news is that the new regime — led by general manager John Dorsey — saw this coming and knew something had to be done in order to make signing with the Browns a better proposition.

Hence, the flurry of trades that have come down since Friday.

To recap, the Browns’ moves included:

Acquiring wide receiver Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins for a fourth-round pick this year and a seventh-rounder in 2019.

Sending the 65th pick in this year’s draft to the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Dealing much-maligned quarterback DeShone Kizer to the Green Bay Packers for cornerback Damarious Randall. The teams also traded late-round picks.

Trading defensive tackle Danny Shelton and a fifth-round 2018 draft pick to the New England Patriots for a third-round pick in 2019.

There are also indications that Dealing Dorsey may not be finished. The Browns are said to be shopping wide receiver Corey Coleman — he of the oft-broken and questionable hands — and the acquisition of Landry probably makes that easier to do.

Dorsey understands that since the Browns can’t point to anything tangible on the field from the last two years, they needed to generate buzz and create some momentum before the free agency period begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The trades did just that. But will that be enough to draw the free agents at the top of Dorsey’s wish list?

We’re about to find out. The Browns will benefit from having far more cap space than any team in the NFL. It’s not even close. So even if they must overpay — and they probably will — they’re in a position to dangle contract numbers some players aren’t likely to see anywhere else.

But in order for Cleveland to be come a free-agent destination of choice, the Browns must change the outside perception of the organization. That isn’t going to happen overnight and probably won’t fully take hold until the Browns start winning.

Firing former front-office chief Sashi Brown and replacing him with Dorsey was a start. The addition of assistant GM Eliot Wolf and Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith helped.

Then came the trades Dorsey made this weekend, which got the attention of media, players and other teams.

Free agency is next and with all that cap space, Dorsey really gets to spend Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s money.

It will be interesting to see which players can be convinced to take it despite the ugliness of the Browns’ 1-31 record under Jackson.

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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