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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Free-agency review: Browns

By Pat McManamon

A look at the first week of free agency for the Cleveland Browns:

Tate
Tate
Most significant signing: Ben Tate brings desire and ability to running back, a position of importance no matter what folks say about the NFL now being a passing league. Teams have to run the ball to win. If Tate can stay healthy, the Browns will have something they lacked throughout 2013, something they need: the ability to run when they need to.

Most significant loss: Safety T.J. Ward played well for the Browns in 2013, and Denver did not hesitate to sign him. But the Browns moved faster to minimize the loss, signing Donte Whitner to a contract as soon as free agency started. This is called filling an immediate need immediately.

Biggest surprise: The Browns and their fans would have included guard Shawn Lauvao in yesterday’s trash heap. That’s how they viewed him. Washington disagreed, signing Lauvao to a four-year, $17 million deal. It would seem that something has to give here.

What’s next? The Browns had five major needs when free agency started. Only one glaring need remains: guard. The team could address this position in the draft or via free agency, but some help is needed -- even if it’s only to provide competition. The other need was created after free agency started when Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell were released. The team needs to add a veteran backup at quarterback.