When thinking of what team I’d like to take over today, other than the Seattle Seahawks (who I wouldn’t take over anyway because I don’t want to fuck them up), my immediate and only answer is the Cleveland Browns. It’s a couch GM’s dream to be able to take over a team that is completely starting from scratch, has over $100 million in cap room, and two picks in the top 12 of a loaded draft class.
Sure, getting things right for the Browns may literally be impossible, but damn that first six months would be fun.
Before going around and finding out which free agents they can actually lure to that part of Ohio though, Cleveland GM Sashi Brown needs to decide what to do with his own. There is only maybe one free agent that he’d like to keep but there’s a couple cap casualty decisions as well — let’s be honest, the fun here is free agency and the draft, not who stays in Cleveland. However, a couple of these guys would be highly interesting matches for Seattle.
Will they be able to afford them though?
Impending Free Agents
Terrelle Pryor, WR
I’ve already highlighted why I think the Seahawks will target a receiver in either the draft or free agency, and that I thought Pryor fit the mold for what they could be looking for at that position. The only real issue is the price tag (probably north of $11 million per season) and whether or not they want to pay Doug Baldwin, Jimmy Graham, and Pryor more than $30 million of their 2017 budget. However, if Graham leaves in 2018 when he’s set to be a free agent, they’d already have Pryor ready to slide in as his heir apparent for being a big, fast target. With the amount of money they have, the Browns should just re-sign him and do so before free agency opens. A lot of teams will be lining up and putting in their bid for the former quarterback who ran a 4.38 at 6’5, 240.
Stephen Paea, DT
Paea became a combine legend in 2011 when he did 49 reps on the bench (the most since 1999) and the Bears made him a second round pick. The muscle never really materialized into production and Paea will be looking to join his fourth different club in the last four years. I don’t see a fit for that team being Seattle.
Marcus Burley, CB
If interested in a reunion, Burley is a free agent who didn’t play much for Cleveland last season. (12 games, no starts, one pass defensed, five tackles.) He wouldn’t cost much and he’s already familiar with the team.
Austin Pasztor, OL
At 6’7, 305 pounds, above average athleticism, experience at both guard and tackle, and 16 starts made last season for the Browns, Pasztor qualifies as more than just an afterthought signing wherever he lands. And the Seahawks may very well put out the helipad for him. Pasztor is by no means going to make anyone’s top 100 free agents list but as a full-time starter at right tackle that could make him one of the more desired players on the market for some teams. Could Seattle get away with signing their next starting right tackle for under $3 million per season? Cleveland is expected to let him go and run with Shon Coleman or Spencer Drango next season. I’d keep my eye on Pasztor rumors this year, as he’s a more likely target than the big name free agents like Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Kelvin Beachum, and so on, simply because he will be a lot cheaper.
Others: QB Josh McCown, CB Tramon Williams, CB Jordan Poyer, WR Andrew Hawkins
Potential Cap Casualties
Robert Griffin III, QB
No decision has been made on Griffin yet. They’d save almost $7 million by releasing him but they have no need for extra money and Griffin may be the only experienced quarterback on the roster next season if he stays. That being said, he was wholly ineffective under Hue Jackson last year (five starts, two passing touchdowns, three interceptions) so it may not be the experience they desire especially given that Cody Kessler isn’t going anywhere and Cleveland is definitely going to draft another QB. Would Griffin’s next stop be the San Francisco 49ers, where his former defensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan currently resides? It makes some sense, but the dream of RGIII ever returning to former is sadly still in a coma.
Desmond Bryant, DT
Bryant is entering the final year of a $34 million contract he signed in 2013, but he missed last season with a torn pec. The team paid him $1.25 million last year even though they could have paid him zero (he tore his pec doing something non-football related and so his salary could have been voided entirely) and he will get paid in 2017 based on incentives. So there’s a good chance they keep him around because of that but also, they may just want to keep changing out the old guard for some new players who don’t have Browns all over them yet.
Alvin Bailey, OL
Another former Seahawks player, Bailey played in 14 games last season but was suspended for two games because of a DUI. The team could release him to save some cap money (that again, they don’t really need) but also the offensive line was a mess so perhaps they’ll just wait until training camp to see who is their best bets for next season.
Josh Gordon, WR
Not only has Gordon not been reinstated yet, Cleveland hasn’t released him yet. However, if he’s reinstated and if the Browns release him, Gordon will be a hot commodity. Fans seem to think that if he’s released, Seattle should obviously just sign him to a deal that pays him pennies because life is so simple and everything is kosher. But there are so many questions yet to be answered. Gordon would come at a price that is much lower than his value when he’s not suspended, but there’s always the danger that he gets a lifetime ban at some point based on how many games he’s already missed. One more suspension could be the end for him. He could follow a similar path to Michael Vick, who signed an extremely cheap deal with the Philadelphia Eagles, then got a chance to prove he’s still a superstar, then got a huge contract but one that carried very little guarantees. I’m sure I’d love for the Seahawks to be the benefactors of that, but there are so many more steps that need to happen first. For more on Gordon and Seattle, read this.
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