Free agency has been hard on the Cleveland Browns. They've lost their starting center, Alex Mack, to the Atlanta Falcons. Their top receiver, Travis Benjamin, has signed with the San Diego Chargers, and their right tackle, Mitchell Schwartz, will be with the Kansas City Chiefs next season. Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, saying he wanted to win.
"You want to start winning. That's nothing against Cleveland," Gipson said. "I have nothing but love and respect for that organization and love for the city. But I feel like this organization is going in the right direction. It's a lot of moving parts with some good players in the right position."
Since Gus Bradley was hired as the Jaguars' head coach in 2013, Jacksonville has won 12 games total over three seasons.
The Browns were expected to retain at least some of their bigger names who were hitting free agency, and instead they've said goodbye to four key players and have missed out on some of the bigger names they were linked to, like wide receiver Marvin Jones, who ended up signing with the Detroit Lions.
When asked how things could have possibly gone so poorly for Cleveland in free agency, Gipson paused and chuckled.
"The pause tells you everything, man ... no, I'll be the last guy to sit here and bash the city of Cleveland. It's honestly just as confusing to me as it is to the fans," Gipson said.
"How do you lose two Pro Bowlers and an up-and-coming right tackle and one of the best returners as well as an up-and-coming receiver in one free agency class? I don't know."
While the Jaguars certainly haven't done much winning in recent seasons, Gipson believes they have the pieces in place to turn things around.
Blake Bortles didn't get a lot of recognition for it, but he had a decent season in 2015, throwing for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns. Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson both had over 1,000 receiving yards in 2015, and running back T.J. Yeldon contributed 740 yards on the ground over just 12 games.
The Jags had more than $80 million in cap space to work with heading into free agency, and they've spent it on some acquisitions that should fill key needs. Defensive end Malik Jackson, a member of the Super Bowl-winning Denver Broncos defensive line, should help bolster what has been an anemic Jaguars pass rush. Jacksonville added running back Chris Ivory, who is coming off of a career season with the New York Jets. The addition of Gipson instantly upgrades their defensive backfield.