Mailbag: Cleveland’s free agent pickups are not old

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The Browns seem to be stockpiling old guys in Free Agency. Is that a good thing?

-Phil in Cleveland

I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I actually don’t agree with your statement that the Browns are “stockpiling old guys.” If you looked at some of the players who were brought in, there’s not a noticeably huge jump in age. Overall, when you examine some of these additions, the players are relatively young.  If they are getting up there in age, the Browns either signed him to a one-year deal (Burleson), or he is the prime of his career (Dansby).

Safety: Added- Donte Whitner (28)

Departed- TJ Ward (27)

Linebacker: Added- Karlos Dansby (32)

Departed- D’Qwell Jackson (30)

Running Back: Added- Ben Tate (25)

Wide Receiver: Added- Andrew Hawkins (28) and Nate Burleson (32)

I believe this idea that the team added a “bunch of old players,” is not actually true, and I would say that it’s more about adding players who are experienced rather than old. As a whole, the Browns added a combined 33 games of playoff experience to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2002 season.

 

Be honest. Will Alex Mack be a Brown in the 2014 season?

-Brian in Chicago

Right now, I think the chances are pretty good that he returns. With that being said, whether or not Alex Mack returns to the Cleveland Browns depends a great deal on the decisions of the Jacksonville Jaguars, as opposed to those of the Browns. Last Friday, Mack met with the Jags for the first time, and they will most likely offer him a contract. Since the Browns placed a transition tag on him, they do have an opportunity to match that offer and bring him back. If it comes to that, I believe that whether or not he returns will depend on the size of the contract to be matched. Originally, Will Brinson of CBS Sports reported that the team would match a possible $22 million offer from Jacksonville “in a second.” If it goes beyond that number, it’ll be interesting to see if the Browns hold strong on that claim. The interesting thing to remember is that the Browns have $5 million more in cap space than the Jaguars, so they ultimately have the cash to outbid Jacksonville if necessary.

 

What would you consider a successful first year for GM Ray Farmer?

-Neil in Harrisburg

I would say any sort of noticeable improvement in both on-the-field play and overall record.  To put an exact record out there, I would say that the team could finish 7-9 or 8-8 and the season could still be considered “successful.”  Fans need to understand that no matter what you end up putting out on the field, a full turnaround will not occur in one season.  I think the moves Farmer has made (in addition to what happens in the draft), will put the team in position to be competitive in two years.  While the Browns will put a lot of talent out on the field, the starting signal caller will still be relatively inexperienced (the two foreseeable options are Brian Hoyer with only only four career starts or a rookie QB).  Therefore, I think that expecting playoffs or bust for this season to be a success is a little bit too optimistic. I think that a more realistic expectation for rookie GM Ray Farmer is around .500.

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