Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 12/20/12
BEREA -- Sometimes what isnt said speaks louder than what is. So it has been this week in Berea, as every Browns coach who has been asked has run like a rabbit from a personnel move the team made late Tuesday. Thats when the Browns unceremoniously cut cornerback Dimitri Patterson. This came one week after the Browns promoted fullback Brad Smelley from the practice squad and cut defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron. In both cases, there are arguments for the moves. But both were curious enough to raise eyebrows at a time when a new management team is discussing how it wants personnel to be handled, and who will handle personnel. Amidst all the background is the reality that new CEO Joe Banner was given authority over football, and new owner Jimmy Haslam said Banner would be involved in personnel decisions. How involved? Nobody is really saying. On a conference call this week, Banner said those decisions will be made once the front office decides the football management team. But until that happens, Banner is involved in individual player decisions, and it seems that GM Tom Heckert pretty much has to accept it. If Banner is at all involved in the latest decisions then its an indicator of the new Browns order and how things will go in the future. And perhaps its an indicator what kind of GM Banner will hire -- because Heckert believes he deserves final say over personnel. In the offseason Heckert brought Patterson back once he reached free agency, and gave him a three-year contract with a reported 6 million guaranteed. Patterson was slated to be the teams nickel back when the season began, but he wound up starting when Joe Haden was suspended. In the final game Haden missed, the loss to the Giants Oct. 7, Patterson sprained his ankle. He missed seven games, and there were rumblings the team hoped hed be back sooner. It can happen that a guy falls out of favor, but Heckert thought enough of Patterson to sign him. It at least seems odd that the same GM was on board when Patterson was released. When coaches were asked about Patterson, their non-answer answers were interesting. I think it would be really inappropriate of me to respond to that, defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. I think the head coach will handle all those questions. This would be Pat Shurmur, who said: Im not going to talk about the whys or what-fors there. I will say this though, Im happy for him that hes going to be able to finish out the year in Miami. That will be great for him. OK then. Theres also this reality: On Friday Heckert broke a self-imposed silence about his future to say he wanted to retain control over personnel and the roster. Three days later, the Browns released a guy Heckert signed and brought to Cleveland from Philadelphia. With a new CEO involved who also came from Philadelphia, a CEO who also has been given the right to be involved in football decisions even though hes not a football guy. Cornerback Sheldon Brown played for the Eagles when Banner ran the front office and handled contracts for Jeff Lurie. In 2009 Brown and Banner had their disagreements over Browns desire to re-do his contract, which led to a trade demand. But Brown said when he was traded to Cleveland a year later, he and Banner sat down and talked and he left on good terms. We won a lot of games and he did his best for the guy he worked for, Brown said of Banner. He added he didnt agree with everything Banner did, but he respected Banner had the right to make those decisions, and respected some of the decisions. Brown also can quickly rattle off a bunch of guys who played well in Philadelphia but left to go elsewhere after contract disputes -- including Lito Shepherd, Troy Vincent, Duce Staley, Jeremiah Trotter and fan favorite Brian Dawkins. He puts a lot of pressure on people to succeed, Brown said. You are replaceable. Dont get too comfortable. One week before Patterson was released, the Browns from out of nowhere promoted Brad Smelley from the practice squad. The coaching staff had evaluated Smelley, a late-round draft pick, in preseason and all season, and had never seen fit to promote him. Even when fullback Owen Marecic faltered, the team turned to Alex Smith, not Smelley. On the roster was defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron, a Heckert find late in training camp and a guy pretty highly regarded as a player who could develop. Cameron was in a tough spot on a team with four defensive tackles ahead of him, but the Browns liked him enough to think he would improve. Philadelphia signed Cameron the day after he cleared waivers. And the Eagles paid him the NFL minimum to be on the practice squad, which is more than required practice squad pay. Players are promoted from the practice squad during the season, but usually because of injury. Smelleys promotion came from nowhere. As did Camerons release. Again, it all happened with a new CEO in place. Some could write these moves off as typical late-season stuff for a struggling team, that it is what it is and a year from now nobody will remember. But in the NFL it rarely, if ever, is simply what it is.
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