For weeks, I think fans were very nervous about how the first day of free agency would go for the Cleveland Browns, but we tried to remain optimistic. We thought that the addition of a guy like Hue Jackson might convince some of the team's key offensive personnel to stay on board, and that we could finally say goodbye to the likes of QB Johnny Manziel and WR Dwayne Bowe. Instead, we ultimately and literally did nothing on Day 1 of the 2016 league year.
And goodbye Tashaun Gipson. What a day for the Browns. Four starters allowed to walk out the door. But hey, Johnny's still a Brown!— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 9, 2016
Who Did the Browns Lose?
WR Travis Benjamin - Signed with the San Diego Chargers. Received a 4-year deal with $24 million and $13 million guaranteed.
C Alex Mack - Signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Received a 5-year deal, reportedly worth an average of $9.5 million per year. $28.5 million is reportedly guaranteed over the first three years.
RT Mitchell Schwartz - Signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Received a 5-year deal.
FS Tashaun Gipson - Signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Received a 5-year deal worth $35.5 million.
It sounds like the Browns had been close with Benjamin for months, but were offering him less money and wouldn't budge. The feeling was that they could still retain both Mack and Schwartz today, but then a weird storyline came out from a ton of media outlets: the Browns had a deal with Schwartz on the table and he wanted to return, but then Cleveland suddenly pulled the offer. Shortly after, Mack went all-in with the Falcons. The Browns reportedly offered Mack a little more money, but less of it might have been guaranteed. With regard to Gipson, it sounds like Cleveland has been out-of-the-race for awhile now because they didn't feel he was worth what he was asking.
Other Free Agents?
ILB Craig Robertson and CB Johnson Bademosi are also unrestricted free agents, even though they have received very little press in comparison to "the big four."
Manziel Remains in Cleveland
The Browns did not immediately cut QB Johnny Manziel after 4 PM ET, and soon after, all of the local reporters said the team would definitely not be cutting him on Wednesday. Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com is hearing that Manziel will be released this week, but she's uncertain why it wasn't done today:
The Johnny Manziel era will indeed see its official end this week, I'm told. (Personal request: please be tomorrow.)— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) March 9, 2016
WR Dwayne Bowe is also still on the roster.
As of 7:00 PM ET on Wednesday, the Browns have not signed any other teams' free agents or been linked to them. The resounding opinion from agents around the league is that Cleveland has been too hesitant in negotiations:
@JasonColeBR I'm hearing it all over, even before Alex Mack fiasco. Very rough first rodeo for new front office thus far.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 9, 2016
It's safe to say that Day 1 of free agency has not gone as Browns fans would have hoped...but maybe they'll have one heck of a haul of compensatory picks in 2017. 2017 will be the first year that compensatory picks can be traded too.
We covered Day 1 of free agency all day in our live blog, so be sure to check that out.