You build through the draft.
Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said as much Monday afternoon in an end-of-year news conference.
But Brown, who reflected on a trying 1-15 season alongside head coach Hue Jackson and chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta, said they'll work in "lockstep" this offseason to build up the team's roster by any means necessary.
"We want to take aggressive shots at adding talent to the roster, whether that's at the trade deadline, free agency or in the draft," Brown said. "The draft is going to be our primary pipeline of talent to the roster but it's not going to be an exclusive pipeline. I think we're going to go out and look at all the opportunities available to us come March."
Brown's comments echo a plan outlined by owner Jimmy Haslam, who spoke Sunday after an overtime loss to the Steelers. Haslam broke down Cleveland's path forward in three parts. "No. 1, we've got to re-sign our key players. No. 2, we've got to be appropriately aggressive in free agency and No. 3, we've got to have a great draft," he said.
With the No. 1 and No. 12 overall picks and five selections in the top 65 via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles this past spring, the Browns are poised to add more young talent to what's already one of the league's youngest rosters. They'll also prioritize retaining talented players such as leading receiver Terrelle Pryor and 2015 Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins, whom the team acquired through a midseason trade with the New England Patriots.
And finally, Brown said, the Browns will survey the free agent landscape in March.
"We've got a lot of work to do before decision time, when free agency opens up and when the draft opens up," he said.
"I hope this is a big offseason for us, we've positioned ourselves well. We can add some talent in the draft and we look forward to exploring what's available to us in free agency as well. So we do hope to transfer our roster toward a positive and add a lot of young talent."
Jackson, who declined to "sugarcoat" the team's record following an overtime loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday, spoke of a vision where such a dramatic, season-finale game is one day for a division title.
"We have a lot of work to do. How far away? I can't really say until we add more players. I think it's hard to look at it and say, 'You're this far away' or 'You're that far away,'" he said of those prospects.
"We do have pieces, we do have guys that can play in the AFC North. We just need more of them to get to where we want to be."
"We're going to bring in guys who are competitive as heck, that are physical and that can play in this division, and we are going to develop them as well as any team would in the league," Brown said.
"We'll put a coaching staff around them who will put them in the right position. We have to execute on it. There are a lot of different paths up the mountain. We have ours. We like ours. We like folks who are on the road with us executing it, but it's on us to execute."