The two biggest acquisitions made to date by the Cleveland Browns amount to an even-Steven swapping out of a safety and a linebacker for a safety and a linebacker.
And they paid plenty for the safety and the linebacker they signed, especially in comparison to the safety and linebacker they had. In both cases, the Browns selected an older and more expensive option.
At safety, the Browns gave $13 million in fully-guaranteed money to Donte Whitner as part of a four-year, $28 million deal. T.J. Ward, in contrast, signed for only $7 million fully guaranteed at signing, with another $6.5 million guaranteed for injury only until the 2015 league year. The total value of Ward’s four-year deal is $22.5 million — $5.5 million less than Whitner’s contract.
At linebacker, the Browns dumped D’Qwell Jackson’s contract, which would have paid him $6.6 million in 2014. They’re instead paying Karlos Dansby $10 million in 2014, part of a $12 million fully-guaranteed contract. The 32-year-old’s deal averages $6 million per season through 2017.
While it was prudent for the cap-rich Browns to resist the temptation of going on a Day One overspending spree, some would say they’ve opted to dog-paddle by swapping Ward and Jackson for Whitner and Dansby. The goal moving forward should be to do something other than mildly upgrade positions of strength, and to instead shop for bargains at positions of need.