In a conference call session with President Mike Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert season ticket holders were able to ask questions regarding the Browns with the teams top two decision makers. The call lasted close to an hour.
Randy, a season ticket holder since 1999 asked Holmgren about the trade to move up to the second spot to take Robert Griffin III and Holmgren confirmed the Browns went hard to make the trade.
We were involved, Holmgren said. However, most all of the stories Ive seen were incorrect. What our offer was when we entered the process and what we offered was every bit what was chosen (by the Rams).
Holmgren went on to say that he doesnt know if there was anything else the Browns couldve done referring to the close relationship between Jeff Fisher of the Rams and Mike Shanahan of the Redskins.
When it didnt happen there are reasons it didnt, he said. There were real close relationships between the parties involved. Im not sure any offer wouldve worked.
It didnt work and now what do we do? he said. Do you take your ball and go home? No, we will use our draft picks to get starters to get better and help the quarterbacks on our team to get better.
Holmgren said its hard to say how the non-trade will play out.
You dont really know what kind of draft you have for three or four years, he said. We were very aggressive in that effort and we didnt fold up our tent and go home.
Holmgren sounded as though the plan is now to get players with the teams picks to help immediately help the offense with Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace as the quarterback.
I would caution about a franchise quarterback, he said. Im not going to anoint anybody but in fairness to (Seneca) Wallace and McCoy. Last year, our running game wasnt good. Im not ready to give up on these guys. There are no guarantees that anybody is going to be available next year. My feeling is if the guy we want is there well take it.
Holmgren said every teams goal is to have a franchise quarterback.
Thats the question every team tries to answer for themselves, he said. Sometimes, it takes time and a little luck to find that out. (The quarterback) has to know that youre with him for him to reach his potential. Usually, its not the easiest thing to do. Whoever it is, you have to be all in as an organization for him to have a chance.
Holmgren didnt rule out adding a quarterback either through the draft, free agency or a trade. He only ruled out one.
As far as the quarterback philosophy is not going to change from year to year, he said. We are going to be committed to whoever is playing for us. We will look at young guys in the draft every year. If theres someone in free agency who is very attractive (well look at him). In all honesty though, were not bringing in Peyton Manning.
Heckert re-iterated he thinks McCoy can play in the NFL.
We do think Colt has a big ceiling, Heckert said when asked about McCoy by Tom in Wheeling, WVa. My job is to get better players around him and protect him and get guys who can run the ball. He has shown the ability to play in this league and with this offseason should be better.
Holmgren said he thinks McCoy will be better this year after an off-season in the system.
With the quarterback absorbing the system and the supporting cast around him better, we will be better, he said. We had chances last year and if we can figure out how to score some points I think we can do something within our division.
Holmgren said once again that he feels the quarterback is the most important position in building an offense, but he is only as good as his supporting cast.
Youre right, he said when asked by season ticket holder Joe. When building an offense, the quarterback is the most important player, but he cant do anything without a good line. Having continuity on the offensive line is hugely important. If the group can stay together they can get better. The position we have to look at is right tackle. Were looking hard at the draft to get offensive linemen.
Some of the topics and questions asked and answered were:
Taking the next step:
Holmgren: Im very pleased with the direction and this is an exciting off-season. We didnt have the luxury of the off-season last year and so with Pat Shurmur.
Were also well positioned with the draft due to the trade Tom made last year with Atlanta. We went throw the growing pains last year and we have to take the next step this year.
On letting Peyton Hillis sign with the Chiefs for 3 million:
Holmgren: I was happy for Peyton because Kansas City stepped up and signed him. Sometimes, there comes a time where a fresh start is best for both sides. We had some contract discussions and then the injury situation was unfortunate. We had some economic guidelines. I wish him well. Im a Peyton Hillis fan and am sure he will do well.
On the 2012 Draft:
Holmgren: Last year, we had the sixth pick in the draft and Tom approached me the trade and getting the picks from Atlanta. If he approaches me this year, well have to talk. If we choose to use it they would come in and be starter. Your idea to use the picks to fill needs and let the quarterback play is valid.
Talk about downplaying free agency:
Heckert: Its a little misleading when we say its not a priority. We did sign Frostee Rucker and bring him into the group. We have four pretty good players. Weve said all along the philosophy of the Browns organization is to build the right way and be good and compete every year and the way to do that is through the draft and were going to put most of our resources.
On addressing the wide receiver position:
Heckert: There are a couple of answers to that. When I said were not going to be really big players in free agency, I didnt mean we werent going to try to sign some. Were just one of 32 teams. We hope to add at least another player. There is another part of this and that is when players are signed others are released.
With the receivers, there are only so many available. We have tried to upgrade the position and its sometimes easier said than done and we are continually trying to upgrade.
Thoughts on free agency:
Heckert: The first week is usually crazy and then theres a lull. There is a never ending part of free agency.
Thoughts on guard position:
Heckert: We think were pretty good at guard with (Jason) Pinkson and (Shawn) Lauvao. Hopefully, those guys can improve and continue to play there. We think we have a good young talented group but we will add to the group before its all over.
Thoughts on running back:
Heckert: Were kind of where we were last year when Hillis was hurt without Brandon Jackson. We liked him last year and we have Obie (Chris Ogbonnaya) back and Montario. We have them healthy and Im excited about it.
Tom from Orlando also asked about the running back.
Heckert:Like any other position, were willing to upgrade. Were always looking for a guy to be the featured back. Time will tell and well see what happens there.
John a season ticket holder since 1987 asked What is taking the next step?
Holmgren: Im not going to give you a number of wins, but its a bottom line business. We should win more games. Ive given this speech to the coaches and the players and those are my expectations. I think its important for them to know how I feel.
Going from 4-12 to 6-10 is not good enough. I believe were going to be much better than that. I would ask that you just hang in there a little longer.
What about the feeling there is no sense of urgency?:
Heckert: Were with you. Were not happy about the record since weve been here.