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March 12, 2012 - Mike McLain
The NFL will open the gates of free agency Tuesday afternoon, which may or may not be significant for the Browns.
Last year the Browns took a cautious approach to free agency. Their most-significant signing was running back Brandon Jackson, who contributed to the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl season in 2010. Jackson injured a foot in training camp and missed the entire season.
If general manager Tom Heckert is to be believed, the Browns will again be selective about signing players. Heckert holds to the belief that teams are built through the draft, with free agency being a smaller part in the equation.
That thinking needs to change when addressing the quarterback position. The front office has undoubtedly decided that Colt McCoy isn't the answer, and with Robert Griffin III now out of the picture, the Browns have to make a quick move to add a quarterback. Free agent receivers aren't going to go to Cleveland if they think McCoy will be the starter. Adding another quarterback might change that thinking.
Matt Flynn, the backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, will be available. If the Browns like Flynn, they need to make an aggressive push to sign him, even if it means overpaying. Money shouldn't be a problem because the Browns are about $20 million below the salary cap.
If the Browns don't go after Flynn, it will be an indication that they have their sights set on Texas A@M quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the draft. There have been projections that the Browns might use the fourth overall pick on Tannehill, which wouldn't be wise. Use that pick on a sure thing (perhaps LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne) and use the 22nd pick on a quarterback.
The problem with waiting until the draft to land a quarterback is that it will be too late to attract receivers in free agency.
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