Cleveland Browns President Mike Holmgren reassured fans Thursday that the team did all it could to make a run at moving up to the No. 2 spot in the upcoming NFL Draft.
“We were involved,” Holmgren said in an hour-long conference call with season-ticket holders. “However, most all of the stories
I’ve seen were incorrect. What our offer was when we entered the process
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and what we offered was every bit what was chosen (by the Rams).”
Holmgren went on to say that he doesn’t know if there was anything else
the Browns could have done, pointing to the close relationship between
Jeff Fisher of the Rams and Mike Shanahan of the Redskins, who moved up and will likely select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
it didn’t happen there are reasons it didn’t,” he said. “There were real
close relationships between the parties involved. I’m not sure any
offer would’ve worked.
“It didn’t work and now what do we do?” he continued. “Do you take your ball
and go home? No, we will use our draft picks to get starters to get
better and help the quarterbacks on our team to get better.”
Holmgren, who was joined on the call by GM Tom Heckert, said it’s hard to say how the non-trade will play out.
“You don’t really know what kind of draft you have for three or four years,” he said. “We were very aggressive in that effort and we didn’t fold up our tent and go home.”
Holmgren sounded as though the plan is now to get players with the team’s picks to immediately help the offense with Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace as the quarterback.
“I would caution about a franchise quarterback,” he said. “I’m not going to anoint anybody but in fairness to (Seneca) Wallace and McCoy, last year our running game wasn’t good. I’m not ready to give up on these guys. There are no guarantees that anybody is going to be available next year. My feeling is if the guy we want is there we’ll take it.”
Holmgren said every team’s goal is to have a franchise quarterback.
“That’s the question every team tries to answer for themselves,” he said. “Sometimes, it takes time and a little luck to find that out. (The quarterback) has to know that you’re with him for him to reach his potential. Usually, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Whoever it is, you have to be all in as an organization for him to have a chance.”
Holmgren didn’t rule out adding a quarterback either through the draft, free agency or a trade. He only ruled out one.
“We are going to be committed to whoever is playing for us,” he said. “We will look at young guys in the draft every year. If there’s someone in free agency who is very attractive (we’ll look at him). In all honesty though, we’re not bringing in Peyton Manning.”
Heckert reiterated he thinks McCoy can play in the NFL.
“We do think Colt has a big ceiling,” Heckert said. “My job is to get better players around him and protect him and get guys who can run the ball. He has shown the ability to play in this league and with this offseason should be better.”
Holmgren also said he thinks McCoy will be better this year after an offseason in the system.
“With the quarterback absorbing the system and the supporting cast around him better, we will be better,” he said. “We had chances last year and if we can figure out how to score some points I think we can do something within our division.”
Some of the topics and questions asked and answered were:
Taking the next step:
Holmgren: “I’m very pleased with the direction and this is an exciting offseason. We didn’t have the luxury of the offseason last year and so with Pat Shurmur.
“We’re also well positioned with the draft due to the trade Tom made last year with Atlanta. We went through the growing pains last year and we have to take the next step this year.”
On letting Peyton Hillis sign with the Chiefs for $3 million:
Holmgren: “I was happy for Peyton because Kansas City stepped up and signed him. Sometimes, there comes a time where a fresh start is best for both sides. We had some contract discussions and then the injury situation was unfortunate. We had some economic guidelines. I wish him well. I’m a Peyton Hillis fan and am sure he will do well.”
On the 2012 Draft:
Holmgren: “Last year, we had the sixth pick in the draft and Tom approached me the trade and getting the picks from Atlanta. If he approaches me this year, we’ll have to talk. If we choose to use it they would come in and be starter. Your idea to use the picks to fill needs and let the quarterback play is valid.”
Talk about downplaying free agency:
Heckert: “It’s a little misleading when we say it’s not a priority. We did sign Frostee Rucker and bring him into the group. We have four pretty good players. We’ve said all along the philosophy of the Browns organization is to build the right way and be good and compete every year and the way to do that is through the draft and we’re going to put most of our resources.”
On addressing the wide receiver position:
Heckert: “There are a couple of answers to that. When I said we’re not going to be really big players in free agency, I didn’t mean we weren’t going to try to sign some. We’re just one of 32 teams. We hope to add at least another player. There is another part of this and that is when players are signed others are released.
“With the receivers, there are only so many available. We have tried to upgrade the position and it’s sometimes easier said than done and we are continually trying to upgrade.”
Thoughts on free agency:
Heckert: “The first week is usually crazy and then there’s a lull. There is a never-ending part of free agency.”
Thoughts on guard position:
Heckert: “We think we’re pretty good at guard with (Jason) Pinkson and (Shawn) Lauvao. Hopefully, those guys can improve and continue to play there. We think we have a good young talented group but we will add to the group before it’s all over.”
Thoughts on running back:
Heckert: “We’re kind of where we were last year when Hillis was hurt without Brandon Jackson. We liked him last year and we have Obie (Chris Ogbonnaya) back and Montario. We have them healthy and I’m excited about it.”
Heckert:“Like any other position, we’re willing to upgrade. We’re always looking for a guy to be the featured back. Time will tell and we’ll see what happens there.”
What is ‘taking the next step?’
Holmgren: “I’m not going to give you a number of wins, but it’s a bottom-line business. We should win more games. I’ve given this speech to the coaches and the players and those are my expectations. I think it’s important for them to know how I feel.
“Going from 4-12 to 6-10 is not good enough. I believe we’re going to be much better than that. I would ask that you just hang in there a little longer.”
What about the feeling there is no sense of urgency?
Heckert: “We’re with you. We’re not happy about the record since we’ve been here.”