General manager John Dorsey didn’t wait until the scouting combine to take care of some important business.
He re-signed left tackle Greg Robinson, a former No. 2 overall pick, to a one-year contract Monday. The deal has a base salary of $7 million with another $2 million in incentives, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram.
The move not only settles one of the key positions on the roster for 2019, it allows Dorsey to focus his attention elsewhere as the NFL descends upon downtown Indy this week.
The combine is first and foremost about the draft in April. More than 300 prospects will be measured, examined medically, interviewed and tested on the field, and teams’ draft boards will come into sharper focus. The Browns should concentrate on defense, with needs at end, tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback.
But the combine includes so much more than draft preparation.
Receiver Breshad Perriman is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 13 when the league year starts, and receiver Rashard Higgins is eligible to become a restricted free agent. Dorsey has said he’d like to keep both and can make that happen by finalizing deals this week. If not, the wideouts are likely to hit the market.
With new coach Freddie Kitchens scheduled to talk to reporters today and Dorsey on tap for Thursday, here are a few other things to watch for this week.
Dorsey showed a sense of urgency last offseason and proved he’ll use any available avenue to improve the roster.
Before free agency even started, he had agreed to trades for receiver Jarvis Landry, quarterback Tyrod Taylor and free safety Damarious Randall. Then he signed several key free agents, including cornerbacks TJ Carrie and Terrance Mitchell, right tackle Chris Hubbard and running back Carlos Hyde.
Dorsey has said his philosophy is to not rely too heavily on free agency, so another key trade or two could make sense this offseason. They can’t be official until the league year starts but can be agreed to at any time. Having the entire league confined within a few blocks of downtown Indianapolis makes it easy to talk trade.
Disgruntled receiver Antonio Brown is the biggest name known to be on the trade market, but the Steelers don’t want to deal him inside the AFC, let alone the North, so rule him out.
But rumors persist that the Giants would consider trading receiver Odell Beckham Jr. despite signing him to a five-year, $90 million deal in August. Beckham remains a long shot for the Browns but probably shouldn’t be ruled out. Besides receiver, pass rusher (Denver’s Von Miller?) and linebacker could be positions targeted by Dorsey.
With Indianapolis also littered with agents, the groundwork is laid for potential deals in free agency. The Browns are on the rise and have tons of salary cap space, so Dorsey should be bold but disciplined. Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham and Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams make a lot of sense to top the wish list.
Linebacker Jamie Collins is due a $10 million base salary in 2019, leaving the Browns with a decision to make. Collins is one of the most talented players on the team, but his production hasn’t matched his cost in the two years since signing a four-year, $50 million contract.
The Browns have time to decide whether to keep Collins — they can even wait to see how free agency, trades and the draft develop — because he doesn’t have a roster bonus due at the start of the league year. But if Dorsey and his crew are ready to move on from Collins, the move could be made at any time.
Collins, 29, started all 16 games last season with a team-high 104 tackles, four sacks, an interception, four passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He lacked the volume of impact plays expected from a former Pro Bowler and was criticized for a lack of effort.
With the Browns expected to contend for the playoffs, they’re not in a position to dump proven talent. But they may feel they can upgrade, or at least come close at a lower price.
Minnesota’s Anthony Barr, a four-time Pro Bowler, is expected to reach free agency and could be the alternative the Browns seek.
If Kareem Hunt isn’t the subject of the first question Dorsey gets Thursday morning, he’ll surely be within the first five.
One of the biggest stories in the league since the Super Bowl was the Browns’ decision to sign Hunt after he was cut by the Chiefs on Nov. 30 following the release of a video in which he shoves and kicks a woman. With a heightened focus on violence against women, Dorsey will likely be pressed on the organization’s decision to give Hunt a second chance so soon.
On the football side, the league hasn’t announced a punishment for Hunt following an investigation, but it’s expected soon. Dorsey will be asked to provide an update on the situation, and if Hunt is expected to join the team at the start of the offseason program in April.
ON THE JOB
Not only will Kitchens talk to the NFL media for the first time as coach, he and his staff will be together on a public stage.
While the combine is more the purview of the personnel and scouting staffs, the coaches are part of the process and will be working together for the first time outside team headquarters. Kitchens hadn’t worked with many of his hires, including coordinators Todd Monken (offense), Steve Wilks (defense) and Mike Priefer (special teams), so they must mesh in a hurry.
The combine is a good place to start.