Ray Farmer changes Browns' narrative


Assistant general manager Ray Farmer, right, with GM Michael Lombardi

This offseason has generated a whole lot of discussion about who doesn't want to work for the Browns.

We've heard about head-coaching candidates pulling their names from consideration. We've heard about offensive-coordinator candidates doing the same.

Lost in all of that unpleasant talk, though, has been one significantly positive development that concerns someone turning down another team in order to stick with the Browns.

Ray Farmer was considered a key hire when the Browns named him their assistant general manager last year. He also was viewed as a rising front-office star who soon would get the opportunity to be a GM – a chance that the Miami Dolphins recently offered before Farmer decided he would rather remain in Cleveland.

The Browns' hierarchy clearly had a hand in convincing Farmer to stay put, and it's hardly a stretch to say that it's one of the best moves it has made since trading Trent Richardson to the Colts for a first-round draft pick two weeks into the season.

Farmer is widely recognized around the NFL for having a keen eye for football talent. That's a gift, but it's also the result of years spent honing his evaluative skills after three seasons (1996-98) as a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles, who made him a fourth-round draft pick from Duke.

When his playing career was cut short by a knee injury, Farmer, after dabbling in media work for a couple of years and spending another year as academic coordinator for football at his alma mater, spent four seasons as a scout for the Atlanta Falcons (2002-05). That was when I first began hearing about his ability to recognize a quality NFL player when he saw one.

In seven seasons (2006-12) as director of pro personnel for the Kansas City Chiefs, Ray Farmer helped assemble some of the players that contributed to the remarkable turnaround the team made in going from 2-14 in '12 to a 11-5 playoff club in 2013.

The Browns knew they couldn't afford to lose Farmer's tremendous work ethic when it comes to turning over every stone in the talent-search process. They knew they couldn't afford to lose his superb communication skills, which comes in handy when getting know as much as possible about a draft or free-agent prospect.

Not with 10 picks in May's draft.

Not with a huge amount of salary cap space to add free agents.

Not with the team's brass facing what can easily be described a make-or-break offseason.

Fortunately for the Browns, Ray Farmer did something to change the narrative about being in a place where people don't want to work.

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