Free agency negations in the NFL begin at midnight, and although no actual signing of contracts can be done until March 12th at 4 pm, it might be nice to hear all about the buzz going on in Cleveland.
First, the Cleveland Browns did not used their franchise tag on anyone, which is very upsetting to die-hard “Automatic” Phil Dawson fans. For the past two years, the Browns have used their franchise tag on the 38-year-old kicker, but this year that didn’t happen. To use the franchise tag on him for a third time, he would have been paid the average of the top five players in the NFL, meaning they would have needed to pay him somewhere around $15 million for one season.
We all knew that wasn’t going to happen. Still, when the deadline passed on March 4th, we were a ll a little bit heartbroken. But, what I didn’t expect were the rampant rumors that Dawson is going to seek employment elsewhere. Dawson has a superb kicking record in Cleveland and is the only player left from the 1999 refranchisement of the Browns. Despite his age, Dawson deserves at least a two-year contract offer. Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Terry Pluto makes a valid and much more extensive argument that we can only hope Browns CEO Joe Banner has read.
Other then Dawson, the Browns have 12 other players who will become unrestricted free agents at midnight. According to a Bleacher Report article, the Browns have the second highest cap number in the NFL at $48.9 million (second only to the Cincinnati with an estimated $55.1 million). This leaves Browns fans wondering, “Where will this money be spent” and “Will it be spent in the best interest of the team?”
Players that top the list a lot of Browns fans think should get contracts: K Phil Dawson, Josh Cribbs, CB Sheldon Brown, TE Alex Smith, and P Reggie Hodges.
Big names who will probably be leaving Cleveland for greener pastures (aka another team or retirement): LB Scott Fujita, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, TE Benjamin Watson, and S Ray Ventrone.
According to another article from the Plain Dealer, all the players I just named are probably leaving Cleveland. Let’s hope we can do something good with the free agents that are becoming available around the NFL. This makes me and other Browns fans sad because we’ve become a little attached to some of the players possibly leaving Cleveland. We need to solidify the offensive line, and the secondary, and if the rumors are true, we’ll be shopping for a kicker and place kicker.