The importance of resigning Alex Mack And TJ Ward

With $50 million in cap space heading into next year the Cleveland Browns have the third best cap space in the NFL. That makes it all the more important that they resign soon to be free agents Alex Mack and TJ Ward. Both have been leaders of their respective units this year particularly TJ Ward and it would be devastating if either were to be lost especially when cap space isin’t an obstacle.

Even if both were given deals of  around $10-15 million a year it would still leave Cleveland with a minimum of around $20 million which is expected to go up by about $5 million if they release Greg Little and Davone Bess after both had an underwhelming year, Bess in particular leading the NFL in drops and posting several pictures of himself doing drugs this off-season.

Both had breakout seasons this year. TJ Ward finally got the recognition as one of the best SS against the run and getting to his first Probowl and getting second team All-Pro. He lead the Browns with 75 solo tackles along with D’Weekly Jackson. He has part of a strong Cleveland secondary which features both of Cleveland’s top two picks from 2010 along with second team All-Pro Joe Haden
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Alex Mack also made his second Probowl thanks to his dominant blocking against the pass and in the run game despite Cleveland’s backs not taking advantage of it (I’m talking about you Willis McGahee). He also made his first All-Pro team with second team honors from AP.

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Gary Kubiak at OC?

Gary Kubiak is expected by many to be named as the Offensive Co-ordinator of the Browns by new Head Coach Mike Pettine and GM Mike Lombardi. This could work well for the Browns as there have been reports that the Browns were going to try and sign soon to be free agent RB Ben Tate from as far back as October. This could be helped by the fact that he would be re-united with his former Texans coach. He seems to be destined to test free agency as he has said he no longer wants to be Arian Foster backup.

gary kubiak    ben tate

Johny Manziel is the favourite to be drafted by Cleveland and with Gary Kubiak’s system heavily reliant on stretch runs and play-action bootlegs it would be really suit Manziel unique talents as he would have the option to tuck and run if struggles to find someone open and have more room than in a traditional pocket. It would help that if he had a running back in Ben Tate who would know the system and help him to adapt.

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What if Cleveland doesn’t pick a QB in the 1st round?

In the upcoming NFL draft it is clear there is a need for Cleveland to pick a QB as the long term solution. Most mock drafts and NFL insiders have Cleveland picking a QB in the 1st round whether it be Bortles, Bridgewater or Manziel but what if they didn’t? Instead of using their first pick on a QB they could instead use it an elite wide receiver to pair with NFL leading receiver Josh Gordon and they would have their choice of receivers, be it Sammy Watkins who rip through Ohio State’s defence on his way to 200+ yards in the Orange Bowl, Mike Evans who had an unforgettable performance against the leading Alabama defence or former Biletnikoff award winner Marqise Lee.

 watkins         TAMU FBC- Texas A&M vs. SHSU          Marqise Lee

With Fresno’s Derek Carr expected to be gone by the time they pick again Cleveland could pick a QB like Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron or Zach Mettenberger or as they will all likely still be on the board when they pick in the 2nd round they might be better off picking a guard like Cyril Richardson or local boy RB Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State.

Then you’re left with three I mentioned earlier. With Brian Hoyer returning as the presumptive starter it could be possible for any of the three just to redshirt the year, this would be particular important if they were to pick Murray or Mettenberger as both are returning from serious injuries and would allow them to learn the playbook and improve their mechanics.

Out of the three my preferred candidate would be Zach Mettenberg as he has experience in pro-style offence with Cam Cameron, is accurate and has possibly the strongest arm in all of college football which particularly important considering what a home run weapon Josh Gordon. He may struggle a bit with mechanics but these can be worked on and these have proved quite a bit this year under Cam Cameron.

 zach

The other two have both had strong run games in college which they could rely on when they were having an off day. This may not work if Cleveland struggle again on the ground next year although it should improve with Dion Lewis returning. They may all have a problem with mobility and escaping the rush although Mettenberger has been working on it this season. These pocket passer may suffer as well with the read-option so much in vogue currently in the NFL to the extent that we have seen Andy Dalton trying it. McCarron hasn’t had to face much pressure in his Alabama career with protection from the likes of All-American Cyrus Kouandjio and others.

If they did do so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering Cleveland has only picked 20 of its starting QBs in the first round with only Tim couch being selected in the top half of the 1st round way back in 1999.

Although brining in Bortles, Bridgewater or Manziel might be viewed as the safe option sometimes it can pay off better to take a risk. Bringing in someone like Manziel might be the best business decision but drafting him will drawing significant media attention and could end up like Tebow did although he does possess better mechanics and a stronger arm. Whoever they choose, it does seem like they will be a rookie QB in Cleveland next season.

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New Browns Head Coach

Mike Pettine is to be introduced tonight as the 15th coach of the Cleveland Browns. The current Buffalo Defensive Coordinator will be a first time head coach with only other head coaching experience being at high school level.  A surprise choice who was responsible for the Buffalo’s defence, which was second in the league in sacks. Other coaches were expected to be higher on the Browns list like Adam Gase and Josh McDaniels but both end up pulling out of the running for the job.

Coach Pettine is expected to stick to 3-4 defence with multiple different fronts similar to Dick Jauron’s. Alex van Pelt is reported to be high on their list for Offensive Coordinator. As to who will be his QB is unknown but he has said he will be prioritising it to become a winning team. With six probowlers there on the current roster there is a lot of talent and expectations will be high.

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