Five issues for Browns' offseason

January, 1, 2009
1/01/09
1:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Here are five important issues for the Cleveland Browns this offseason:

1. Hire a head coach and GM

The Browns should not make another move until they hire a new head coach and general manager. The franchise currently is in flux after firing both former head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage. Cleveland is currently interviewing Scott Pioli of the New England Patriots. If he gets the job, Pioli is expected to be able to pick his own head coach.

2. Evaluate the QBs

Cleveland has two young quarterbacks on its roster in Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson. Quinn was already deemed the starter by the old regime and there is a good chance he will hold that title no matter who is hired. But the new regime coming in still has to evaluate the situation and determine if it's smart to keep both quarterbacks. Anderson is due a large, guaranteed $5 million roster bonus in March. So the new people in charge will have to decide quickly whether it's smart to fork over the money for depth or try to get someone else to pay it.

3. Should Romeo stay?

The Browns have fired Crennel as head coach, but they haven't completely ruled him out to return in some capacity. Crennel, who is still on the books, was a tremendous defensive coordinator before coming to Cleveland. That could be a possible role for him if former boss Pioli gets the job and former coaching stablemate McDaniels is the head coach. McDaniels' specialty is offense, while Crennel's is defense. It would make sense on a lot of levels. But it's always awkward to have the old head coach still on board while a new head coach works to establish his own identity. That is definitely something the Browns would have to consider.

4. Keep or scrap the 3-4 defense?

Speaking of Crennel, the Browns spent the past four years drafting players and building to run a 3-4 defense. One of Crennel's and Savage's biggest failures is that Cleveland never ran the 3-4 very well over that span. So a coaching change may be the perfect opportunity to go back to a more conventional 4-3 scheme. A lot of drafted players, such as Kamerion Wimbley, Alex Hall, and D'Qwell Jackson, were specifically brought in to run the 3-4. That is all they have run at the pro level and would need to be coached up to make that adjustment.

5. Identify your core

A year ago, it seemed like the core of young players such as Anderson, return specialist Joshua Cribbs, receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. would be solid building blocks for the future. But this year all of those players are in limbo. Anderson and Winslow could be trade bait in the offseason. Cribbs and Winslow have expressed a desire for new contracts in the past. Edwards is unhappy in Cleveland and approaching the final year of his deal, as well. This group led the Browns to 10 wins in 2007 but could be broken up in some form based on the decisions of the new regime.

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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