Collins signing shows Browns ready to start building up

Posted: 27/01/2017 in NFL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , ,

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The Cleveland Browns turned over a new leaf Monday, actually investing in a piece they had the courage to go out and get.

Under the regime of vice president of football operations Sashi Brown and head coach Hue Jackson, the Browns have been gutting their roster and evaluating the little talent that remains. Last spring, the Browns elected not to re-sign any of their contributors whose contracts had run out and even released a few veterans who had years remaining.

Linebacker Jamie Collins saw that trend reverse, receiving a four-year deal worth a reported $50 million with $26 million guaranteed. The deal gives Collins the highest annual average salary ($12.5 million) for an inside linebacker in the league. His play this season may not have been worth that number, but what it represents for the Browns is more important.

Collins, who was acquired through trade from the New England Patriots this season, and receiver Terrelle Pryor represent the two potential franchise cornerstones that the Browns didn’t acquire through the draft. Now that Collins has been paid, the Browns gain some credibility with players (particularly free agents) around the league.

Young free agents who may not garner huge numbers on the open market or be of much interest to Super Bowl contenders can view Cleveland as a land of opportunity. Signing there on a short-but-fair deal could provide under the radar talent with a place to showcase their abilities, and hopefully cash in when their deals run out.

This should also be encouraging to players who just spent their first season with the Browns or those who are about to. While former draft picks like Johnny Manziel may be encouraging future players to stay away from the Browns, making Collins the highest paid at his position is something for young stars to shoot for. The Browns drafted 14 players last year and have another 13 selections to dish out this spring.

Former players who actually have NFL talent (unlike Manziel) put the Browns on blast last spring as the team chose not to re-sign free agents like Travis Benjamin, Tashaun Gipson, Craig Robertson, Mitchell Schwartz, and Alex Mack. Instead, they signed a quarterback the rest of the league had given up on and may as well have called punts on third down through parts of the season. The Browns had no problem playing with a roster devoid of talent and experience in the hopes of establishing a true bottom to build up from.

Collins’ signing is the first step back to becoming a respectable NFL franchise.

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