So far in free agency, the Browns have been pretty quiet when it comes to their signings, but have made a lot of noise when it comes to who they've let walk. Let's go through them one-by-one.
Re-sign Alex Smith, TE (1 year deal)
I'm too lazy to look up the actual financial details of this deal, but I remember seeing it and thinking that it made sense of a role-playing tight end. I like Smith's attitude a lot, but I'd rather see Evan Moore on the field more than him. In my mind, Smith and a declining Ben Watson are very similar type of players.
Sign Frostee Rucker, DE from Cincinnati (5 year, $21 million deal)
I like the signing of Rucker, and to be honest the financials don't scare me like they do for some people I've read. Some of you may read WalterFootball, and he gave this signing a "Millen on Acid" grade. Because of that analysis, I'm starting to like it. WalterFootball also argued that the Rams would be retarded to not draft Jimmy Clausen #1 overall in 2010. Anyways, Rucker gives the defensive line a decent push from the left side. Rucker had 4 sacks last year as a rotational defensive lineman, but is excellent against the run, something this young Browns d-line needs. The stat I'm most excited about is that Rucker led the Bengals with 11 tackles for loss in 2011. Lastly, I love the fact that Rucker and Jonathan Fanene, two major pieces in the Bengals front four, are gone.
Release Eric Steinbach, OL
Steinbach was owed a shit-ton of money after sitting out an entire year in 2011 and getting an unbelievable deal by Phil Savage in 2007. That being said I don't mind his release. I would rather have seen the two sides work out a deal and give Steinbach a chance to come back, but since it couldn't be worked out I can accept this release. Now, either Heckert is going to bring in someone to start and give Pinkston/Lauvao a chance to compete for the other guard spot, or he has a lot more confidence in Pinkston and Lauvao than everyone thinks he does.
Let Peyton Hillis, RB, Walk
I don't like this move. Not at all. Say what you want about Hillis, but he had the ability to change games. My roommate argues with me and says he isn't a West Coast running back, which I say is bullshit. The man had 61 catches in 2010. 61! That's how many our #1 receiver had this past year! What else do you need to be a good fit in the WCO? Nothing. You need to be able to run and catch the ball. Boom boom. Done and done. Hillis had the ability to do both. Now, I would be less upset about this move if the Browns had a starter-quality back behind Hillis, but now all it means is that the Browns have one more hole to fill in the draft or free agency. A lot of people are going to say that Trent Richardson is going to be a Brown at #4 come April, but I'm not as convinced. Heckert's running backs in Philly were not first round picks (McCoy and Westbrook). I could see him picking one up in the 2nd/3rd round. The point is though, I would feel a lot better about that back being paired with Hillis.
Re-Sign Dimitri Patterson, CB (3 year, $16 million deal)
I love this deal, because I think Patterson can be an effective starter in this league. Even if the Browns pick up Claiborne or another corner to start in the draft, Patterson is a very good nickle back. Statistically, I've read that Sheldon Brown actually wasn't all that bad this past year, but let's be honest, he's getting old and should be replaced by a younger DB, whether it be Patterson or another player.
Re-Sign Oniel Cousins, OT
Not much to say about this signing. Cousins provides depth, but I think we all know we should not be too excited about seeing him on the field on the right side or (gasp!) fill in on the left if Joe T gets hurt (please God don't tell me I just jinxed him).
GRADE: C (I guess?)
Re-Sign Brian Schaefering, DT
I like Schaefering a lot. I think he provides a solid rotational presence on the defensive line, something teams like the Giants and Bengals have shown is very important to a defense.