Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hello Browns! Did you really give Joe Haden to Pittsburgh??

The Pittsburgh Steelers apparently do not believe Joe Haden is through at age 28.  

Hello Browns! You're sure Joe Haden is Through, Right? Because if not, there is going to be **** to pay, and heads may roll in the Front Office.  

The Browns analytics guys have figured out that they would rather move up in draft position rather than win an extra game or two with veterans who will likely not be present for Super Bowl runs in 2018 and 2019.  Hence, the team let go (or failed to re-sign) a slew of capable but not superstar veterans last year like Karlos Dansby,  Donte Whitner, Paul Kruger, Mitchell Schwartz, Travis Benjamin, and others.  

This year they did it again by axing Gary Barnidge, .  Now the coup de grace is they cut Joe Haden and thus allowed him to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

Joe Haden played last year with two torn groin muscles that required surgery to repair.  That displays incredible toughness, but on the other hand, he was not anywhere near his former self last year.    

But these injuries are not permanently degrading, the operations have apparently been successful, and there was Joe playing effectively again in the exhibition season.  

Is he injury prone now?  Many fans and commentators seem to believe so, but they said the same thing about Sam Bradford, and he's held up and had two consecutive good years.  

The Steelers front office knows Joe as well as anyone, particularly with former Browns Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton back with the Steelers.  Their scouts evidently say that Joe is back, or at least close enough that he can still be an effective starter.  Hence, they signed him for $7 M this year and a larger non-guaranteed amount next year.  

The Browns get out of his contract, but $7 M gets charged to the 2017 salary cap, so the net savings is about $4 million. setter draft position.  

It makes complete sense if Joe Haden truly can not play well enough to earn substantial playing time in the current Browns backfield.  Maybe Jason McCourty, Jamar Taylor and Brian Boddy Calhoun are all better players.  

But if they made the cut mainly to get $4 Million taken off the salary cap, and if they are deliberately seeking draft position over wins before the season starts, that is a very serious organizational issue.  

Can the players, coaches and team just flip a switch and try to win games in some future year?   I don't think it is that easy. They are human beings who are going to be furious if one of their best players was simply handed to the Steelers. Future free agent players won't want to sign with an organization that deliberately tanks the season.   Season ticket holders are going to be furious, and fans will stay away in droves.  They are not going to buy the products advertised on games because they won't watch the games.  That's going to have repercussions league wide.  

Frankly, I think that the Front Office has overdone it by getting rid of skilled players like Gary Barnidge and Joe Haden.  True they might not be on the team in 2019 but they could contribute to a few wins in 2017.  If you're not going to save enough money to afford to hire a better replacement, don't make the cut.  And especially don't humiliate the organization by helping out the team's bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

Owner Jimmy Haslam III is going to come under a lot of pressure.  He evidently believes in the analytics business, rightly so.  But taking it to the point of tanking before the season starts may be more than he can stand.  

Sashi Brown and John DePodesta will come under fire, and rightly so, in my opinion. They could lose their jobs if they have helped the Steelers have a good year.  Helping their rivals win may damage the organization far more than the $4 million they saved on the salary cap.  

We'll see whether the Browns front office or Steelers front office win out on this deal.  The Browns better be right.  

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