Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam had his annual meeting with reporters in Berea on Wednesday, and one of the statements he made was that he expected the team to be less active in free agency this year than they were in 2014. (To compare, prior to free agency last year, Ray Farmer indicated the team expected to be "in the middle" among teams who make a splash.)
#Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said he thinks the franchise will be less involved in free agency this year than last.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) February 11, 2015
Last year, the Browns made an immediate splash by signing ILB Karlos Dansby and SS Donte Whitner, two of the better defensive players on the market. They followed that up by signing WR Andrew Hawkins, WR Miles Austin, RB Ben Tate, and TE Jim Dray. At the time, the moves added four starting players, which is a pretty significant splash.
The other day, we explained how the Browns currently have about $52.40 million in available cap space, third most in the NFL. Upon first hearing Haslam's comment about free agency, one might wonder, "why would we be less active?"
Cleveland could still make a play for a high-profile defensive lineman, one wide receiver, and some improved depth on the defensive line, and it would still be a nice "splash" while being a little less active than a year ago. Also, the Browns have two first-round draft picks for the second year in a row. Last year's first-round draft didn't go too well, but ideally, those are 1-2 more starting-caliber players you can add to the roster, just not via free agency.
Haslam's comments could also be a sign that they are interested in re-committing to their own free agents, particularly TE Jordan Cameron (who could see the franchise tag) and CB Buster Skrine. FS Tashaun Gipson is also a restricted free agent, but Cleveland might be looking to extend him to a long-term deal rather than having to worry about it in 2016.