Each day between now and post-Super Bowl Monday, we’ll roll out a get-to-the-point offseason plan for one NFL team. Today, the Browns; tomorrow, the Cowboys. After that, we’ll see. Here’s our three-point plan for Cleveland:
1. MAKE DECISION ON JOHNNY MANZIEL
The Browns were hoping Manziel would answer questions about his character in his second season, but he simply added more to the list — the latest with a report earlier this month that the quarterback skipped the team’s concussion protocol on gameday morning and could not be reached. Another report indicated that Manziel spent that time at a nightclub in Las Vegas. Given his erratic style of play and constant headaches off the field, the new regime could very easily part with the polarizing player drafted 22nd overall less than two years ago. Sorting out the QB situation is critical for a team that has had 26 starters at the position since the beginning of the 2000 season. Journeyman Josh McCown is signed through 2017, but the Browns could opt to take Memphis’ Paxton Lynch or Cal’s Jared Goff with the No. 2 overall draft pick.
2. PICK THE RIGHT COACH
Can Depodesta successfully bring "Moneyball" to the NFL?
The Browns have made quite a splash by hiring “Moneyball” baseball executive Paul DePodesta and promoting Sashi Brown to executive vice president of football operations. Finding the next head coach is the next challenge facing the organization. For a franchise that has had four coaches — Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Rob Chudzinski and Mike Pettine — since Romeo Crennel was fired in 2008, identifying one who brings stability and a winning culture is a priority. The Browns are in the midst of an exhaustive search that has included interviews with Detroit’s Teryl Austin, Carolina’s Sean McDermott and Cincinnati’s Paul Guenther. They are also aggressively pursuing Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who might just be able to bring the experience and enthusiasm needed to put Cleveland back in playoff contention.
3. FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO AT WR
And you thought deciding on Manziel was tough. What about Gordon?
Though Travis Benjamin, tight end Gary Barnidge and running back Duke Johnson look like pieces to build around in the passing game, Cleveland has big decisions to make at wide receiver. First, the team must figure out whether it wants to move forward with troubled star Josh Gordon as he returns from a one-year suspension. Then there’s the matter of the two-year, $12.5 million deal handed to Dwayne Bowe last offseason. The longtime Chiefs receiver had only five receptions for 53 yards and no TD catches a year after going without a TD in Kansas City. Only one Browns wideout — Benjamin — finished the season with more than 50 receptions, which means there is plenty of room for change.