Q: If Alex Smith does come to Cleveland, what do you think it would take to get him here? And how would that change the Browns’ draft strategy, if at all?
A: This will be one of the huge story lines of the offseason.
Smith has one year left on his contract and the Chiefs reportedly are willing to trade him to clear a path for Patrick Mahomes to be the starter. I believe the Browns can get Smith for a second-round pick — the Browns should fight to keep No. 33 and part with No. 35 –but if they need to throw in a third-rounder to get the deal done, that’s fine. Smith can make that big of a difference.
I don’t think adding Smith would affect the draft strategy. General manager John Dorsey should pick the future franchise quarterback with the No. 1 pick, as long as he deems one of the many candidates worthy. I would feel differently if the Browns landed Kirk Cousins instead of Smith. Cousins is 29 years old and Smith is 33, so Cousins could be penciled in as the starter for years to come. Smith would serve as a strong bridge until the No. 1 pick is ready, with no rush to force the youngster into the lineup.
Q: Will the 0-16 parade send the wrong message to potential free agents and college prospects. Obviously the Browns players think so.
A: A few Browns defensive players, Danny Shelton, Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Kirksey, objected to the parade on Twitter on Saturday, and Shelton raised the idea of it hurting the team in free agency. I disagree with the big fella.
In nearly every case free agency comes down to the money. If the Browns, who have a ton of salary cap space, offer more money, they will be able to land at least a few of the players they covet. And if a player decides to play for less elsewhere, as Ravens safety Tony Jefferson did last year, it will be because the team went 1-31 the last two years not because fans held a parade. I’m confident the players around the NFL appreciate Cleveland’s strong fan base and its loyalty, which wasn’t lessened by the parade.
Q: Where is GM John Dorsey at in hiring a quality offensive coordinator? If he lets Hue Jackson do this, have a feeing it will be a yes man.
A: I hate to disappoint you, but I believe it’s Jackson’s hire, as it should be. A head coach, especially one with such a strong offensive background, must have total confidence in his coordinator, even more so if he were to turn over play-calling duties.
Jackson planned to take a few days away, then conduct interviews. Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan is a candidate, but he doesn’t have a history with Jackson and wants to call plays. I think the final hire won’t call the plays, because Jackson trusts himself more and will enter next season on the hot seat.
Q: I still want Kirk Cousins and drafting his successor at No. 1. I’d also take Louisville QB Lamar Jackson in 2nd round. Bye bye, DeShone Kizer, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan.
But Alex Smith on extension is option 2. One year isn’t enough, though. Your thoughts?
A: You can’t pay Cousins $26 million a year for four years then spend the No. 1 pick on a quarterback. You could pay him and draft Jackson in the second round, although I don’t think Jackson has the body and ability in the pocket to succeed at quarterback in the NFL.
As for Smith, I’d be fine adding a second or third year to his contract if he’s open to the idea of moving into a backup role at some point.
Q: I see a lot of teams making assistant coaching moves, teams that kept their coach. Why haven’t the Browns made any moves? #needgoodstaff
A: The offensive staff moves will depend on the new coordinator and how much power Jackson gives him. If Jackson turns over control of the offense, then many staff changes could be in store. If Jackson keeps control of play calling, then the changes could be minimal.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on special teams coordinator Chris Tabor, although I don’t blame him for the unit’s struggles. He has a solid track record but was forced to make the best of the worst of a bad roster.
Q: What would be the most you would offer for Alex Smith?
A: The No. 33 pick and a third-rounder.
Q: I think it could be Sam Bradford who accepts the challenge of being the Browns’ vet QB, since those with options will avoid us, Kansas City won’t risk exposure without Alex Smith and because there won’t be many starting gigs offered to the oft-injured Bradford.
— Mark Leonard
A: The Browns could do worse than Bradford. There are significant injury concerns, so the rest of the depth chart at the position would be important, but Bradford is also a former No. 1 overall pick who’s had success in the league. He would be a much more temporary option than Cousins, Smith, Case Keenum or Teddy Bridgewater.