An eventful offseason in Cleveland got a little more interesting and strange Tuesday. Weeks after firing former coach Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam decided to overhaul the front office as well. General manager Michael Lombardi was fired after one year in the role while team president Joe Banner will "transition out" of the organization.
The Browns wasted no time filling the void, appointing Ray Farmer as the new general manager. On the surface, the moves aren't all that surprising. Farmer is very well regarded around the NFL. He was a favorite to land the general manager position in Miami before opting to pull his name from consideration. Cleveland had serious issues during Lombardi's first season with words like "dysfunction" being thrown out about the organization. The timing of the moves, however, has left many scratching their heads.
Cleveland fired Chudzinski in late December, but opted to keep Lombardi and Banner. The team then went through the process of hiring a new coach, eventually hiring Mike Pettine. While Cleveland promoted Farmer from assistant general manager, he was not part of the interview process in hiring Pettine according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The moves Cleveland made this offseason could ultimately prove to be successful, but the timing of them was far from conventional.
Haslam and the Browns have taken significant criticism this offseason, first for firing Chudzinski after just one season, then for a drawn-out search for a new head coach during which they were rebuffed by several candidates. While the team owner accepted criticism about the moves made, he defended the search and said some reports were inaccurate.
"I will accept comments and criticism about change. I will accept responsibility for changes that have been made," Haslam said. "There is no primer for being an NFL owner. It is learn on the go, if you will."
"I think the reports of people not wanting to talk to us are inaccurate," he added. "I think we went through a very thorough search. Comments were made about how long it took. I think we got the best person available."
Haslam said that he thought the structure of the previous front office was "cumbersome," and that the goal of the latest moves was to streamline the operation. Making significant change has become a staple of the Browns during Haslam's ownership, but he said the latest moves were the "last of the major changes we'll make." For now.
Terrance Knighton signed a relatively modest two-year deal with the Denver Broncos last offseason. He responded with an especially strong campaign, finishing the season as one of the most productive defensive players on the team. He is scheduled to earn $2.75 million next season, but is seeking a new deal, according to Brandon Krisztal of the Denver Post.
The 27-year-old graded out as one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL last season, according to Pro Football Focus. He excelled against the run and the pass, and may have been the best player on Denver's defense, especially while Von Miller was out. Most of the top defensive tackles in the NFL earn at least $5 million per season, with the highest paid pulling in at least $8 million per season. Kyle Montgomery of Mile High Report said Knighton has certainly earned a big payday, whether he gets it this offseason or next:
I'm fine if the Broncos keep Knighton on his current deal, and I'm fine if they extend him now, too. He's certainly earned it, but it's the reality of the NFL that players don't always get what they earned right away. With one more season like 2013, Knighton will certainly be hitting paydirt - either with the Broncos or someone else.