Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 3/16/12

Earlier this week I wrote about how the Browns needed to address the offensive line in free agency. This is not exactly what I had in mind.

If you aren’t familiar with twitter’s format, those would be consecutive tweets that the Browns (PR department) sent out to their followers. The point of putting the tweets here isn’t to blast the PR department. They are doing what they are supposed to do I guess.

Whether we like it or not the Browns are revealing their plan- at least for the offensive line. My hope was that the Browns would make a play for Eric Winston at the right tackle spot, instantly providing depth by adding the best available right tackle to the team. A move that would make the Browns’ line a strength of the team with a little depth and versatility to boot. Instead, the Browns cut Eric Steinbach (a move which I saw as a possibility and am kicking myself for not writing about) and didn’t even sniff a phone call to Winston.

I can’t disagree too much with the decision to cut Steinbach to be honest with you. Look, every NFL player knows that they can be cut. It’s why they fight for guaranteed money in their contracts. It’s why they have such big signing bonuses. At the time the Browns signed Steinbach, his deal was kind of bloated for a guard. He was set to make $6 million this year, and the Browns felt they could fill his spot for much less money. They are right. Jason Pinkston isn’t at Steinbach’s level, but he is a cheap alternative that improved as the year went along. There is generally a learning curve to playing offensive line in the NFL. Unless you are one of the elite 3 or 4 in your draft class, typically you come in and learn the pro trade for a year or so before starting. Pinkston was pressed into duty right away for the Browns and started all 16 games.

The Browns did make an effort to renegotiate Steinbach’s deal and bring him back at a cheaper rate. They couldn’t come to an agreement on terms, and Steinbach walked. That’s the business side of the NFL. It is still possible that Steinbach resigns with the club, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. There are some playoff ready teams that would take Steinbach at the rate the Browns would want to pay him. You do that math.

According to Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert’s conference call with season ticket holders yesterday, the Browns plan to address the line in the draft. Some may hold out hope that the Browns could use the 4th pick on Matt Kalil, giving them high draft picks on both ends of the line. I think the Browns are too traditional for that kind of out-of-the-box thinking. The Steinbach move probably demonstrates that best.

More likely is that the Browns use another third or fourth round pick on an offensive tackle, and bring in someone’s leftovers (like Pashos, Greco, St. Clair) to compete for the staring job. Right tackle will likely be a trouble spot again. Maybe not as bad as St. Clair. That’s about the best I think Browns fans can hope for to be honest with you.

Don’t shoot me. I’m just the messenger.

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