“It’s exciting,” he said at the NFL’s annual league meeting. “The town is excited. We’ve got great fans, and we’re looking forward to the season. But we’ve got to perform on the field, right?”
Hope returned for the Browns last season when rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, the top pick in last year’s draft, helped them to 7-8-1 record and kept them in playoff contention until late in the season. That was after the Browns posted a 1-31 record over the previous two seasons, cementing their status as a laughingstock.
But Dorsey has turned things around quickly. And his trade for Beckham made the Browns the “it” team of the offseason.
“We went through a couple of tough years, tearing down the roster and stockpiling draft picks,” Haslam said. “And John and his team have done a great job of using those picks and those assets wisely, and hopefully they’ll continue to do so. Although we don’t have as many picks as we have had and don’t have the number one, we need to get good players in this draft.”
The Beckham trade was put together quickly by Dorsey and Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman. The Browns sent first- and third-round draft choices and safety Jabrill Peppers to the Giants for one of the league’s most dynamic players.
“It happened really quickly, which I think was good for both teams,” Haslam said. “Dave Gettleman and John Dorsey have a really good relationship, and they both trust each other. And I think that probably had as much reason as anything for the deal coming together. . . . We talked about what it would cost, just like you would in any transaction, and agreed on what was fair. And he and Dave were able to work it out.”
The Browns’ offense now includes Mayfield, running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Beckham and fellow wide receiver Jarvis Landry and tight end David Njoku. The coach tasked with making it all work is Freddie Kitchens, who finished last season as the Browns’ offensive coordinator.
“Freddie had been around and we went through an extensive interview process, interviewing internal and external candidates,” Haslam said. “Our group felt like Freddie was the best pick. So we’re comfortable with it. He knows our team well. He’s off to a good start. He’s put together a real good staff. . . . Freddie is very comfortable in his own skin. No games. What you see is what you get.”
These are very different times for the Browns, and Dorsey’s offseason moves raised the stakes considerably.
“Pro football started in Ohio, and northeastern Ohio is a huge football community,” Haslam said. “And even as poorly as we’ve performed the last several years, the fan support has been tremendous. Cleveland is a great sports town. It’s a great football town. Everybody’s really excited.”
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