Summer might have another month left for kids around the area, but it's winding to a close inside the Cleveland Browns facility in Berea.
If you haven't taken your summer vacation yet, well, it looks like it will have to wait until next year.
Which new addition this offseason will have the biggest impact besides McCown? -- Ethan B., Herndon, Va.
If you hadn't thrown in that caveat, my answer would have been easy and we could already move on to the next question. Instead, you threw us a curveball -- and not a hanging one, either.
Here's my best explanation for why it will be cornerback Tramon Williams.
Of the numerous, free-agent additions to the roster, five -- not counting McCown -- could be penciled in as potential starters heading into training camp. For now, we're rolling with Williams, wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, defensive lineman Randy Starks and tight end Rob Housler. It's hard to peg rookies at the moment, but you'd think Danny Shelton, Cameron Erving, Nate Orchard, Duke Johnson and Xavier Cooper also project as players who will have a significant role on this year's team.
I'm going with Williams for multiple reasons. Though he may be on the back end of his career, he came to Berea in great shape and carries himself with the moxie of a player who has "been there, done that" in the playoffs for years. With Joe Haden on the opposite side of the field, Williams will be most often tasked with shutting down an opponent's No. 2 wide receiver. And that's an important role, as Buster Skrine faced 123 targets, which ranked second in the NFL, last season in this role. Williams' arrival also eliminated any potential uncertainty about the Browns boasting one of the NFL's top secondaries. Without Williams, uncertainty would be swirling about whether Pierre Desir or Justin Gilbert could fill the role vacated by Skrine. Now, if one of those two young players are starting, it means they rose to the occasion and beat out Williams for the job.
Am I the only one who wants Erving to start over Schwartz at RT instead of compete with Greco at guard? Schwartz has experience at guard and in my opinion is the weak link on that OL. Thanks for keeping us Browns fans posted as we wait for training camp! -- Jay M., Rossford
Nothing is set in stone yet with Erving's position in 2015, but it appears right guard is most likely at this point and there's been no indication Schwartz is on the move from right tackle. While some in the fanbase tend to gravitate toward Schwartz, who hasn't missed a snap in his Browns career, whenever there is an issue on the offensive line, Browns coaches don't necessarily see it that way.
Here's offensive coordinator John DeFilippo near the end of the offseason workout program.
"I think Mitchell Schwartz has gotten a lot better in his pass protection this offseason," DeFilippo said. "I think he's gotten a lot better. It's hard to tell without the pads on, but when you're going against some of the guys we have across the ball, I'm pleased with Mitchell Schwartz. I'm pleased with John Greco. I think both those guys have had a positive spring."
Considering the surplus at the cornerback position with Gilbert, Williams, Gaines, Desir, and Olomu, is there a possibility of seeing one of our cornerbacks traded away? Especially with the high demand among the league for cornerbacks, wouldn't it be better off to trade one away for maybe a draft pick or to get quality depth at another position? -- Will S., Brecksville
Trades are tricker in the NFL than any of the other major sports, so it's hard to ever predict one happening, especially at this point on the calendar. And all of those guys you mentioned? They might all make the 53-man roster. On Wednesday, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu was placed on the active/non-football injury list. It'd be relatively surprising to see him on the field this season, as the Browns made it clear his selection in the seventh round was a long-term investment. Charles Gaines, a sixth-round selection, will have his work cut out for him but he'lll be among the top competitors for one of the last spots in the secondary.
Is there any chance of the Browns carrying a third QB on their roster? I really like Shaw and don't want to see him on the practice squad again in fear of him getting picked up by another team. He seems like he would be a solid backup to a long-term answer at QB, if not a decent option for a starter in a few years.
Also, I'm disappointed that there isn't a Browns Backers in Maine anymore and want to start one as I just moved here. Need to drum up interest though. Thanks! -- Stephen B., New Gloucester, Maine
There's always a chance, and there's nothing we can safely rule out one week before training camp. Though NFL teams have trended in the direction of keeping just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, some still see the value in a third quarterback. And you make a good point about Shaw's value. If he's placed on the practice squad, you better believe another team will discuss whether they should snatch him away from the Browns.
Good luck with the Browns Backers club! We're sure there are plenty of Browns fans in The Pine Tree State.
Does the addition of Hartline automatically put Hawkins and Gabriel in the slot or will they be able to compete for the 2 spot? -- RJ P., Midland, Texas
Hawkins' role is primarily as a slot receiver when everyone around him is healthy, though he's capable of lining up anywhere on the field. Gabriel can play in the slot, too, but he's more of an outside receiver like Hartline. It was hard to find anyone who had a better spring than Gabriel, who promises to have a bigger role in the offense this season.