It took me a month to fully clear the psychic stench of the latest cycle of Browns failure, and I’m ready for the next episode, which couldn’t possibly be worse, right?
So hours before the new league year starts, let’s get caught up on Browns news from past 35 days.
- The liberal media blew the lid on a stealthy plan to get the state of Ohio to ante up $5 million for a new Browns training camp facility in Columbus. Within a day, the team announced that training camp would stay in Berea, for 2016 at least. The request for taxpayer funding to facilitate the Browns’ move was soon dropped.
- One of the most compelling and controversial players of the new Browns millennium, Kellen “Wheelie” Winslow II, announced his comeback plans after two years out of the league.
- Johnny Manziel‘s agent drops him, as the troubled QB was ordered to stay away from his ex-girlfriend after a bizarre January 30 incident that remains under investigation.
- The Browns are officially the league’s longest of longshots, as oddmakers put their chances of winning the 2017 Super Bowl at 200-to-1.
- The bulk of the 2016 coaching staff was officially announced. Among the many new assistants coming to Cleveland is OLB coach Ryan Slowik, whose father, Bob, was the Browns’ defensive coordinator in 1999.
- OLB Armonty Bryant was indicted on two felonies for a Christmas Day incident, when police found him with three pills for which he allegedly lacked a prescription. His case was assigned to Judge Dick Ambrose, a former Browns linebacker. The NFL later suspended Bryant for four games.
- The analytics focus of the Browns braintrust was bolstered with the internal promotions of Ken Kovash and Kevin Meers.
- Former Browns WR Reggie Rucker is facing a fraud rap after apparently using charitable donations for personal expenses.
- Legendary RB Jim Brown was honored on his 80th birthday, and the Browns announced that a statue of the Hall of Famer would be installed at the stadium this fall.
- In the wake of a 3-13 record, the Browns will not increase season ticket prices this year.
- The team cleared nearly $5 million more salary cap space by releasing two veterans, TE Jim Dray and DL Randy Starks, who both underperformed last season.
- In 2014, the Browns picked up the fifth-year option on 2011 first-round DT Phil Taylor. So he took home about $5.5 million in 2015 despite being injured and released last summer. Last month, he signed with the Super Bowl champion Broncos, who signed no fewer than seven ex-Browns D-linemen a decade ago. This spring, Cleveland will probably decide not to pick up the fifth-year option for 2017 on OLB Barkevious Mingo.
- It’s no secret that the Browns intend to draft a quarterback, as head coach Hue Jackson has guaranteed it. Whether they pull the trigger on one with the second-overall pick is uncertain, but various reports after the scouting combine have them very impressed with the potential of North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
- Given the increased salary cap, the Browns’ unspent carryover from last year, and Pro Bowl C Alex Mack opting out of his contract to hit the open market, they’ll have a whopping $49 million in available cap space, but don’t expect them to go wild in free agency. At best, they’ll re-sign or fill some of the holes created by the departures of their own UFAs, who include Mack, S Tashaun Gipson, WR Travis Benjamin, RT Mitchell Schwartz, ILB Craig Robertson, and DB Johnson Bademosi.
- LB Tank Carder, a core special-teamer, signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal rather than become an unrestricted free agent.
- Among the players lacking the four accrued seasons necessary to become unrestricted free agents, the Browns signed RB/KR Raheem Mostert and DT Jamie Meder for another year. Restricted free agents DB Don Jones, OL Austin Pasztor, WR Terrelle Pryor, and LB Scott Solomon were given low/original-round tenders, so they’re all likely to vie for spots with the 2016 Browns.
- Browns president Alec Scheiner is officially on his way out. His legacy deserves a post of its own, but for now, here’s a solid take on the situation.