Earlier this week, Mike Sando of ESPN looked at the top 5 and the worst 5 free agent signings from this past offseason, based on how things have worked out during the 2015 season. The Cleveland Browns were represented twice in the column, and unfortunately, neither instance was positive because of a player they had signed.
#3 Worst Signing - WR Dwayne Bowe
This is a case of the organization not being on the same page. If you are a general manager who is going to commit so much guaranteed money to a veteran, you'd better make sure your head coach is going to use that player quite heavily. Also, I don't buy the excuse that Bowe got so far behind in the playbook that he couldn't catch up -- how difficult can it be to catch up? Here is what Sando said about Bowe, who has 5 catches for 53 yards in the six games he's been active:
Contractual carnage: Bowe was part of a 2014 Kansas City wide receiving corps that finished the season without a single touchdown reception. Cleveland mysteriously gave him a two-year deal for $12.5 million, with $9 million guaranteed in full. Was there another team in the league willing to give Bowe even half that much after three consecutive underwhelming seasons?
Lasting lesson: Having a front office and coaching staff on the same page is critical when opening the owner's wallet in free agency. General manager Ray Farmer hailed Bowe as a difference-maker when the team made the signing, but the coaching staff has appeared less than eager to play him. Bowe has been a healthy scratch from the lineup and has played sparingly when active even though the Browns are desperate for receiving targets with Bowe's size.
#4 Best Signing - OLB Jabaal Sheard
Despite being a fairly stable player in 2014 as he transitioned to outside linebacker, the Browns showed zero interest in retaining Sheard this offseason. When the New England Patriots signed him, many media members on Twitter instantly tweeted that it would be one of the best low-key signings of any team in the offseason. He would also be moving back to a position he was more accustom to.
Contractual value: The Patriots signed Sheard to a two-year, $11 million contract with $5.5 million guaranteed.
Production: Sheard has seven sacks and three forced fumbles in 11 games. The Patriots emerged from Week 15 tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 47. They rank eighth in defensive expected points added per game. Sheard's addition has allowed the Patriots to rest teammates Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.
Lasting lesson: Defensive coaches with chameleon tendencies can find ways to use versatile rotation players.
Pro Football Focus also pointed out the tear that Sheard has been on, especially as of late:
Jabaal Sheard has the fourth highest edge defender grade +19.1 since week 10— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 22, 2015