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2020 NFL Draft

Ray Farmer details how Browns will tackle free agency


Media pundits and NFL insiders project the Cleveland Browns to have among the most cap space in the league when free agency opens March 10. 

That doesn't exactly mean the Browns feel implored to embark on a wild spending spree.

On Thursday at the NFL Combine, general manager Ray Farmer gave some insight as to why the Browns won't necessarily be splurging on free agents. The reason centers on why the Browns and every other NFL team devote so many resources to the annual scouting event: the importance of the draft.

"Active? Not active? It's really about being judicious and making smart decisions," Farmer said. "That's the one thing we've tried to articulate to (owner Jimmy Haslam) and the rest of our staff.  It doesn't mean we're not going to go. It doesn't mean we're not going to play. It doesn't mean we're not going to allocate cap dollars in that regard."

Last year, Farmer added linebacker Karlos Dansby, safety Donte Whitner, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins in the month of March and later found a bargain deal with veteran wideout Miles Austin. The Browns didn't just add football players in free agency – they added leaders. 

Other NFL teams who broke the bank in the 2014 free agency period didn't exactly reap the same kinds of rewards.

"It's really more focused on being smart with who you add, when you add, and how you add," Farmer said.

The Browns hold six picks in the first four rounds of the NFL draft and 10 overall. And just like last season, the Browns are going to count on rookies coming in and making waves. Joel Bitonio, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell and Taylor Gabriel were not just contributors – they were the heartbeat of the offense.

Farmer says that's the key to winning – finding young studs in the draft, not the often fools gold appeal in free agency.

"We're really focused on building through the draft," Farmer said. "You can't keep going and buying and putting guys in front of guys. Because if you go out and spend a lot of money on a guy, you expect to see him playing. To go out and draft a guy that's not going to play doesn't make a lot of sense."

This article is part of the Road to the Draft series, driven by Liberty Ford.

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