NFL teams use the offseason to rebuild, restructure, and adjust themselves according to the strengths and weaknesses brought out by the previous season. This year, an important aspect of these adjustments happened in April of 2017, when teams gathered in Philadelphia for the 82nd annual NFL draft. The draft is a key tool that teams use to change, or maintain, their path from the last year. But the draft is not the only important aspect of the offseason. Players also utilize this time to heal from injuries, gain strength and agility, and train any other skills that can help them be more competitive in the next season. In this period of time, teams seek to improve their playoff chances through trades and other player acquisitions, which all carry an importance similar to the draft. For teams coming out of a season filled with tough losses, the offseason is arguably the only chance they have to improve their chances for success in the next year. In particular, the Cleveland Browns, a team that had a record of 3 wins and 13 losses in 2015 and 1 win and 15 losses in 2016, has been focusing its efforts on finding new ways to strengthen its roster in order to regain a competitive edge.
In April, the Browns used the first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft to select Myles Garrett, a defensive end that attended Texas A&M. This 6 foot 4, 272 pound star fills a needed position on the field for the Browns, and generally should be a strong addition to the team’s lineup. Along with Garrett, the Browns had an additional two first-round picks, from which they acquired safety Jabrill Peppers from the University of Michigan and Tight End David Njoku from the University of Miami. Peppers will help with Garrett to strengthen the team’s defense, while Njoku will add to the team’s offense. These players are much needed additions to a team that ranks 30th in offense and 31st in defense among the 32 NFL teams. But these early changes in ranks are not the only steps that the Browns have taken to turn around the misfortune they have faced. The team has continued to change its roster after the draft, dropping unneeded players and recruiting free agents. The Browns’ offseason has also been marked by attempts to improve their performance by implementing more strenuous workouts and intensive rehabilitation for the players.
It has been 14 seasons since the Browns last made the playoffs, during which they were eliminated in the first round. But so far, the Browns seem to be having a strong offseason, which could be telling of possible success in the future after so many years of disappointment. According to Gil Brandt, a NFL Media Senior Analyst, the Browns have had the second best offseason of any team this year (following the Patriots). Whether or not the Browns will see this strong offseason translate into victories is another question. Regardless, the work done by the Browns this offseason reflects how a team can change in such a short time. It is only a few months until we will see these changes put to the test, and football fans will see if they are still the ‘failing’ Cleveland Browns.
Graphics: Jessica Chang