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Todd Haley said he believes in "playing to every player’s strength." Now he has to prove it

By Jacob Feldman
March 12, 2018

Over a matter of hours, the Browns traded for a pair of Pro Bowlers at two of the most important offensive positions, bringing in Tyrod Taylor from the Bills and Jarvis Landry from the Dolphins in exchange for third and fourth-round picks this year and a seventh in 2019. Suddenly, the expectations for Cleveland's offseason have radically changed. Will free agents look at the team differently now as GM John Dorsey continues building a roster that fits his philosophy? Does having Taylor in the fold give the front office the flexibility to take Saquon Barkley No. 1 overall and go back to QB at No. 4 in the draft? As Landry tweeted, "S--- about to get SERIOUS​." But as important as the combo of moves could turn out to be, for now they accentuate an addition Cleveland made weeks ago—with significantly less profanity laden fanfare.

See, Taylor and Landry are talented in idiosyncratic ways. Taylor is elite at limiting interceptions (throwing them at the lowest rate in the league last year), but he will also overlook open receivers, and he is at his best in a system that utilizes his running ability. Landry, meanwhile, was third-to-last among qualifying receivers in yards at catch; on average, he got the ball 4.4 yards away from the line of scrimmage. And they join a collection of unique assets already on the Browns roster, like 5'11" wideout Corey Coleman or running back Duke Johnson, who had more receiving targets than rushes in 2017.

When Todd Haley took to the podium for the first time as Cleveland's offensive coordinator on Valentine's Day, he said, "What I believe in is playing to every player’s strength that you have as best you can—putting players into position to succeed, playing to their skillset." It's a bit of coach speak, but it's going to have to become his most important mantra. Haley figured out how to develop and deploy distinctive talents in Pittsburgh while building an explosive offense, but he's going to have to do it completely differently this time around. At the same time, Hue Jackson, who has surrendered offensive control and play-calling duties for the first time since coming to Cleveland, will have to figure out how he factors into all of this. The front office seems intent on bringing in pieces, but can the staff get them to fit?

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NOW ON THE MMQB: Just keep Andy Benoit's free agency tracker open in a tab this week ... Robert Klemko remembers Aqib Talib's time in Denver ... Michael McCann considers what players and the league can do about inappropriate questioning at the combine ... Peter King has another packed column ahead of free agency ...  and more.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: Ben Baskin spoke with rising cornerback Jaire Alexander ... Jonathan Jones chronicled an eventful 24 hours at the NFL Combine ..and more.


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1. Richard Sherman is now a San Francisco 49er, and Eric Branch has the details on what could end up being a nearly $40 million deal (Mike Florio has a financial breakdown, if you are into that type of thing). The 49ers desperately needed help at corner, and Sherman now joins linebacker Malcolm Smith as former Seahawks working to build a new San Francisco juggernaut after battling with the last one. Peter King spoke to both Sherman and 49ers GM John Lynch in his column.

2. Somewhat lost in the Browns-focused swirl, Panthers GM Marty Hurney continued his aggressive offseason, trading third-year corner Daryl Worley to Philadelphia for Torrey Smith in the hopes of providing Cam Newton with a big play receiver.

3. Three more veteran defenders could be hitting the free agency heap, as the Giants moved on from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Bengals parted ways with Adam Jones, and the Steelers reportedly planned to cut Mike Mitchell

4. The next big name to keep an eye on: Tyrann Mathieu.

5. Enough about the Browns, what do their deals mean for the rest of the QB market?

6. Sean McDonough won't be calling Monday Night Football this season, leaving ESPN with two chairs to fill.

7. Stoneman Douglas High School's quarterback was meeting with college recruiters when gunshots rang out. He committed that evening.

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