As Jimmy Haslam kicked back in a chair at the swank Arizona Biltmore hotel last week during the NFL owners meeting, he oozed confidence while declaring the Browns have successfully executed their offseason plans thus far. But he also remained realistic and brutally honest about his new team. He warned a group of local reporters that the organization’s work is far from done. “We’ve won 23 games in the last five years, won 14 games in the last three, so we’re not going to go 13-3 next year,” said Haslam, who struck a deal last summer to buy the Browns from Randy Lerner for about $1 billion. “I think what I’ve stated back to Aug. 3 [during my introductory news conference] is we’re going to do this the right way. We didn’t spend all our money in free agency this year. “We’re going to be very disciplined and fill gaps as they’re needed. Hopefully we’ll have a good draft, and now that free agency is almost over -- it’s not completely over -- we can look at the draft and what we can do there. We have six picks, so that’s a little bit of negative, but we have to do the best we can.” The Browns, who went 5-11 last season, entered free agency with about $47.5 million in salary-cap space, most in the league. They have landed six players since the signing period began on March 12: outside linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves, defensive end Desmond Bryant, cornerback Chris Owens and tight ends Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge. They also re-signed reserve running back Chris Ogbonnaya. As Haslam promised before the Super Bowl, the team didn’t really make any “splashy moves,” though several areas of need were addressed. The front seven of new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 multi-front scheme received the most attention. “We set out early strategically to build both lines,” Haslam said. “I think we inherited a good offensive line, and I think we’ve put in place the makings of potentially a very good defensive line in terms of quantity and quality. I think it’s all about protecting the passer and putting pressure on the passer. I think between Ray’s basic modus operandi and how he attacks and the people we put in place, I think we’ll have an exciting fun-to-watch defense that will hopefully get after people.” The Browns aren’t done exploring the market, either. Free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler, who spent the past four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, is scheduled to visit Cleveland Sunday and Monday, a league source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Browns don’t publicize such visits beforehand. Free-agent cornerback Brent Grimes, who spent the past six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, visited the Browns on March 16 and remains a possibility.
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam pleased with offseason moves but doesn’t expect instant success
Published On: Mar 23 2013 05:25:30 PM CDT Updated On: Mar 23 2013 05:25:30 PM CDT
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