ORLANDO — **After a week of visits with the top quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft and, now, a brief stop in Central Florida for the league’s annual meeting, Browns general manager John Dorsey is looking forward to returning to Berea. The draft is, after all, just a month away.
“I'll be back in the dark,” Dorsey said Monday, “and kind of start tightening this thing up."
It’s been a busy few weeks for Dorsey and Cleveland’s front office. Since the start of the new league year, the Browns have added 12 new players, including trades for veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry and former first-round safety Damarious Randall, in an effort to reshape one of the league’s youngest rosters.
“We laid a plan out in early January. We sat and constructed it and part of the plan was to get certain players at certain positions to move this thing forward,” he said. “We have done that. You never want to go into a draft hamstrung and say you have to force the issue. By doing it this way, you don't force your position in the draft. You have options and flexibility.”
Now, Dorsey said it’s time to turn the page with four weeks until a pivotal three-day stretch in late April. “The sole focus now,” he said, “should be on the college draft.” Owners of the first and fourth overall picks, Cleveland can add two potentially cornerstone players following the team’s first winless season.
But first, Dorsey, in a wide-ranging interview, offered thoughts on Cleveland’s haul of free agents and more Monday afternoon in Orlando.
— The Browns agreed to terms with former Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton on Sunday evening, giving them another veteran passer to go along with Taylor, whom Cleveland acquired from Buffalo via trade earlier this month.
“With this acquisition we not only got a guy who knows the game and knows the term professionalism, I'm excited to add a presence like that in the room,” he said. “I've always believed in having a veteran in that room because it helps. It helps the starter, it helps the young guys. It helps mold that room together. We've done that before and it was successful. Why not try that again?”
Stanton, who spent the past five seasons in Arizona as Carson Palmer’s backup, joins a room that includes Taylor, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan.
— In what’s been a reshaping of their defensive secondary, the Browns signed former Bills cornerback E.J. Gaines last week. Dorsey said Gaines, who spent his first three seasons with the Rams and now-Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, brings experience and a track record of production to the back end.
“He's lined up, he's started. I think he's played in Gregg's scheme and is very familiar with it,” Dorsey said. “You take that, and he's a good person. He'll be really good for the chemistry in that locker room and he wants to be a good player. Anytime you can make the cornerback position competitive, you try to do that. Said that all along.”
Gaines started 11 games last season, making 59 tackles, nine pass breakups and an interception. He’s the fourth new addition to Cleveland’s secondary, joining Randall and cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and Terrance Mitchell.
— Dorsey shrugged off the notion that running backs are less valuable now than they have been in the past. “If you can make plays from any position on the field and it happens to be a running back position, why wouldn’t you go acquire somebody like that?” he said.
— Dorsey said the Browns are interested in acquiring free agent defensive end Junior Galette, who parted ways with Washington after three seasons. “We’re in conversation. It’s not closed,” he said. “His agent is here and I was gonna sit and talk with him today a little bit, just kind of feel him out.”