New Browns president Joe Banner sat down for an interview with ESPNCleveland recently, and discussed a range of topics regarding the organization's future, from current roster evaluation, attracting free agents to Cleveland ,and re-signing popular veterans Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs. On the topic of evaluating the roster, which is one of the youngest in the league:
The people here write up reports every single week on where the team is at, both the coaches and player personnel department. I have relationships around the league at which it’s helpful on getting perspectives from the outside as well as what people think of the team. So I think if you put that all together, you’ll at least have a number of well thought-out, should be good, insightful, honest opinions. And it’s also good to have a new look at it because when you’re invested in the players here, you see them with the strengths that caused you to bring them in.
On re-signing Dawson and Cribbs:
I’ll never speak about a specific player. But we’re beginning an internal process of starting to look at where we’re at next year. It’s not just restricted to who’s a free agent this year. Who do we have coming up in the next year or two as we’re building a core that we want to hold onto, that is either free now or will be in a year or two? We’ve started to have some meetings and discussions about that. I don’t envision any of that happening in the next few weeks. It’s a process we’ve begun. You want to have that done certainly no later than the end of the season.
On attracting free agents to Cleveland, despite the team and city's negative perception among many NFL players:
Every team struggles with that. I don’t care who you are, for different reasons. Some players, it’s where they’re from or what type of coach they like to play with. Some players actually like joining a team that isn’t doing well and helping to turn it around. Some players only want to join a team that’s already doing well and they want to win a championship. I do think we need to position the franchise better, in terms of the perception in the league to attract free agents. That’s not going to be our priority but it’s not going to be something we’re allergic to, either.
Banner replaced Mike Holmgren as the team's president when new owner Jimmy Haslam officially took control of the team several weeks ago.
Despite their 2-7 record, which is good for last place in the weakened AFC North, the Browns have shown some signs that building blocks for the future are already in place. The Browns have lost four of their seven games by seven points or less, and have only lost one game by more than ten points.