As many expected, the Cleveland Browns have been noticeably absent from the free agent circus since the period began at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday. And while it should come as no surprise to the savvy, wary Browns fan, the action -- or lack thereof -- speaks volumes about the team's process.
That doesn't mean I have to like it.
Cleveland has gotten used to doing things a certain way, and even more so in the Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren era. It's about "building through the draft," "creating a culture," or "sticking to the plan."
What it isn't -- is winning football.
Since the Browns returned in 1999, there's been a more than noticeable lack of success. The team has had bad luck, no franchise quarterback, and no consistency in the front office or from a coaching standpoint. All the while, Cleveland fans are dubbed impatient for wanting more.
I don't buy it.
Winning isn't a privilege that can be bestowed on the righteous or worthy; it's created by those in power making the decisions. While it admittedly does take time, there are plenty of measures in place to give smart ownership a chance at a quick turnaround. The NFL is designed as a parity-based league. It is not rare to see a franchise win four games one year, then ten the next or vise versa.
Unless you're the Browns, in which case you're going to win between four and seven games for eternity.
That's the culture. Those are the measures that have been taken. That's our reality.
And while it may be under the guise of smart business or the way that Heckert and Holmgren want to do things to stay quiet in free agency with minor moves like a backup cornerback or a guy like Frostee Rucker, hold onto draft picks and build from within, the results are the same. We don't care about the plan. We want hope.
Watching the team noticeably absent on big names or one-upped by other teams to draft a high-profile, possible franchise-changing quarterback is par for the course. But it gets tiresome. Browns fans have infinitely more excuses than wins, and so that makes a player like Robert Griffin III, Matt Flynn, Vincent Jackson - or even Eric Winston - so important.
It wouldn't make the difference on its own, but it would be a statement to the fans that the front office actually means it this time, that they are committed to making this thing work, and that we're not supposed to just trust them.
Instead, the lack of noise has a way of being deafening in its own way.