Two months ago, Browns general manager John Dorsey assembled the team’s front office together and laid out a blueprint for how Cleveland might begin to move forward past the franchise's first winless season.
The first part of that plan came to fruition this week as the Browns added 10 new players — including a proven veteran quarterback, Pro Bowl wide receiver, talented free safety and bruising running back — as they reshape one of the league's youngest rosters.
“For the big picture of the team, bring in guys that can help and create competition,” Dorsey said Thursday. “I don’t think that was our sole objective in terms of bringing in age to do this or do that. I just wanted to bring in really good football players, and this was a resource that we could use in terms of unrestricted free agency. We had great assets in place so why not take advantage of that?”
Indeed, Dorsey and the Browns’ front office made good use of ample cap space and a war chest of picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. In the process, they added several missing pieces to a team that struggled on both sides of the ball last season in hopes of making a 1-31 mark over the past two years a distant memory.
For starters, Cleveland took a step toward addressing its longstanding quarterback problems by trading for former Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a two-time Pro Bowler whom they acquired in exchange for a third-round pick in 2018. They added one of the league’s premier playmakers in former Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, a three-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in receptions (112) last season, in another deal.
For a secondary that couldn’t take the ball away in 2017, they traded for Packers defensive back Damarious Randall (considered one of the league's up-and-coming defenders) and signed Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie, who started 16 games in Oakland last year. They paired the dynamic Duke Johnson Jr. with former 49ers running back Carlos Hyde — a powerful, three-down player coming off back-to-back seasons of 1,000-plus yards from scrimmage — and added former Steelers right tackle Chris Hubbard to shore up an offensive line that lost Joe Thomas to retirement.
As several of those players toured the team’s facility and met with news reporters Thursday, there was a sense of optimism that abounded throughout Berea.
“I know this, when players walk in the building, you can feel a certain energy in that building. That is what I always like about this period when new guys come in here and guys are really excited to be here and I really appreciate that,” Dorsey said.
“Until those guys come together in training camp and the OTA sessions because every team’s identity is different year in and year out. Just meeting those guys today, I can understand that they are going to help us and help us achieve our ultimate goals.”
With the initial burst of free agency in the books, Dorsey said the Browns will turn their attention to the draft, where they own the first and fourth overall picks. Those selections give Cleveland another chance to continue adding talent at key positions.
“I think we did a really nice job of executing this plan moving forward, and this is just the first phase,” Dorsey said.
“Like I always say, you don’t win games here in the spring; you win games in the fall. This helps contribute, and I look forward to winning games in the fall.”