The offseason for NFL players is still in its infancy stages, but for the Cleveland Browns coaching staff, the 2015 season is already underway.
On Tuesday, nearly every coach assembled together to begin discussions for anything and everything – the draft, fresh wrinkles on defense and new concepts on offense.
But at the very forefront is free agency. What may seem like trivial February meetings actually could alter the identity of the franchise.
The Browns will have to make some challenging decisions on their own. Eighteen players will see their contracts expire – see the full list here.
But as we saw in free agency last year, Cleveland will have a chance to make splashes that upgrade the win total. Without the acquisitions of Andrew Hawkins, Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner, the Browns likely wouldn’t have won seven games.
Now is the time Mike Pettine uses to hear from his assistants about which players from outside teams they think can succeed in Cleveland. From there, Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer will execute roster upgrades.
Because the Browns surpassed nearly every outside prediction in 2014, Pettine’s optimism for luring star power is noticeable.
“We talked to the free agents last year, and they were coming into a situation where you looked at Cleveland...” Pettine said trailing off about the recent struggles. “[But] a lot of the guys we targeted, we got them to come here.
“I think a big part of it is we have to sell ourselves. If they like the contract being offered and they like what they're hearing from us, then we'll get them here. I don't see that as an issue.”
Nine months ago, Pettine told ClevelandBrowns.com he and Farmer were like “brothers from a different mother.” And though they both know there will be lively discussions on the free agency plan, they’ve reached a point in their working relationship where compromising is second-nature.
“I think if we agreed on everything, that would be an issue,” Pettine said. “That's just not going to happen. There are times where he'll voice his opinion on a player and I'll voice mine or voice the coaching staffs, and sometimes it will go the way of the coaching staffs and sometimes the personnel department wins out.
“To me, it's all for the same cause, for the same purpose: We want the Cleveland Browns to win. That's the bottom line.”
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What we posted yesterday
A list of Browns players who are free agents. Read More.
All 21 of the Browns interceptions from 2014. Watch.
Running back Terrance West using boxing to shed weight. Read More.
A glance at how tough the Browns schedule will be in 2015. Read more.