The Cleveland Browns have had one wild offseason, and they somehow surpassed their previous moves by firing Michael Lombardi today and promoting assistant GM Ray Farmer to take his place. CEO Joe Banner also stepped down, and these three moves should help the Browns in the long run. However, they do make things confusing in the short-term, because the timing of the GM move from Jimmy Haslam was weird to say the least. Not only was Farmer given no say in hiring head coach Mike Pettine, who was a solid hire anyway, but the Browns were about a month late to make this move. I have a feeling this was brewing for some time, though, since Farmer rejected the Miami Dolphins GM job in order to stay with the Browns, which was initially a perplexing move. Farmer is one of the league’s best execs, and he should do a good job for the Browns. They’ll need him to make all the right moves, especially when it comes to the quarterback position.
It will be interesting to see how the promotion of Farmer affects the team’s offseason plan going forward, and the most interesting thing will probably be watching for a decrease in the smoke linking the Browns to Johnny Manziel. The NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that the Browns were getting ready to extend star corner Joe Haden, tag top free agent strong safety T.J. Ward, and allow stud center Alex Mack to hit the free agent market.
Those moves would have likely happened if Lombardi were still in power, and it will be interesting to see if Farmer goes in a different direction, particularly when it comes to his decisions on the Browns two elite free agents. Ward and Mack are two of the best players in the league at their respective positions, and the team would be wise to keep both. It’s more important for them to keep Ward, though, since they would feel the loss of a star SS in their secondary more than the loss of a star center on an offensive line that should still be solid. It’s ideal for the Browns to keep both, but Ward is most deserving of a big contract or franchise tag.
Haden definitely deserves to be extended, and I would be a bit surprised if Farmer opted not to make that move.