There is a part in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Charlie Brown ventures out to the mail box to see if anybody has sent him a Christmas Card. “Hello, in there” Charlie yells into the mailbox, and the noise of his voice echoes because the box is completely empty. Fans of the Cleveland Browns may expect to experience a similar event were they to yell while inside of the offices of the club these days.
Day two of the 2015 edition of National Football League free agency has come and gone, and those who follow the Browns remain underwhelmed with the actions of the team. A day after Cleveland failed to register a wave let alone a splash in the free agency pool, the Browns couldn’t even make headlines on Wednesday. It was announced around the noon hour that the team had re-signed wide receiver Marlon Moore. You may remember Moore from such seasons as 2014, when he accumulated a total of zero receptions on zero targets. He did, however, return 13 kicks for 322 yards and zero touchdowns, so there really can be little question as to why the Browns jumped at the opportunity to retain his services.
Other teams were also busy making moves via free agency. The Indianapolis Colts, a team that is attempting to give superstar quarterback Andrew Luck a championship offense, signed Andre Johnson, one of the top available wide receivers. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the consensus No. 1 overall player of this free agency class, completed his much-anticipated move to the Miami Dolphins. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin made the switch from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Kansas City Chiefs. Running back Ryan Matthews agreed to sign for the Eagles. Tight end Charles Clay, reportedly coveted by the Browns, is reportedly on the verge of joining the Buffalo Bills.
There are still some talented players out there in free agency; running back DeMarco Murray, defensive end Greg Hardy, wide receiver Percy Harvin, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton are just a few players who are currently unsigned. How many of them have been linked with the Browns?
Not a one, of course.
When Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and team general manager Ray Farmer stated before the start of the new NFL year that the team would not be big spenders this spring, Cleveland fans realistically began to anticipate that the Browns would not aggressively attack free agency this time around. Suh, cornerback Darrelle Revis and tight end Julius Thomas were never signing with the Browns, and those who were hoping against hope that wouldn’t be the case were admittedly dreaming. That the Browns haven’t acquired one of the top free agents in the league is not what has football fans in northeast Ohio filled with disappointment, confusion and even anger.
It is the fact that what was already a lackluster Cleveland roster has only gotten worse since 4 pm ET on Tuesday that has upset followers of the club.
Cornerback Buster Skrine has left the Browns for the New York Jets. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard traded up by joining defending Super Bowl champions the New England Patriots. Think about that. The Browns, with over $40 million of cap space available to the team at the start of free agency, passed on offering Sheard a deal, but Bill Belichick believed that giving the former Cleveland draft pick a contract was a wise move.
The perception out there is that the Browns are a dysfunctional mess, a team that cannot attract even looks from big-time players who enter free agency. Thus far, the club is doing nothing to disprove that notion. The news of troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon being suspended for at least a calendar year along with the knowledge that quarterback Johnny Manziel remains in rehab has made this an already rough offseason for fans of the Browns.
Things aren’t improving anytime soon.
Zac has been covering the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants and National Football League for a variety of websites since 2006. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.