Player search runs deeper than talent

Posted by Vic Carucci on February 23, 2013 – 8:56 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – It isn’t simply a case of finding good players.

That is always at the core of the Browns’ evaluation of potential free-agent signees and college prospects.

There also is a specific parameter that might sound obvious, but is paramount to the team’s efforts to improve its fortunes. Coach Rob Chudzinski said it on Friday and chief executive officer Joe Banner reiterated it on Saturday: The Browns want players who want to be Browns.

That goes deeper than landing someone who just wants a big payday in the free-agent market or wanting to play in the NFL.

And Banner is confident that the Browns will be able to identify those players once the free-agent signing period begins on March 12 and during April’s draft. He sees plenty to which they will be attracted beyond money.

“We won’t know that for a few weeks,” Banner said during a breakfast gathering with reporters who cover the Browns at the NFL Scouting Combine. “But we think that Jimmy (Haslam) coming in as the owner was a tone-changer. We think, around the league, the hiring of Chud, the quality of the (coaching) staff, was perceived both in terms of its quality and the message that it sends about what we’re committed to, the investments that we’re willing to make to win.

“Aside from Chud, both (offensive coordinator) Norv (Turner) and (defensive coordinator) Ray (Horton) have reputations, from talking to players, as people you really want to play for – that they like playing for, that they have a lot of respect (for), that they think will be successful.”

It doesn’t stop there.

The fact the Browns play in the AFC North is another factor in making them attractive to the rest of the league, as well as to college prospects.

“I think the division we’re in is one that players that are driven by kind of being competitive would be excited to be in,” Banner said. “So I think we have a good story to tell.”

A story that the CEO believes will and must get better in order for the Browns to acquire players who will have an added sense of pride of wearing brown and orange.

“Despite perception (that it’s only about money), most players want to play where they believe they can win,” Banner said. “So once we’ve actually proven that we’re going to be different from previous regimes and we’re going to win here, it will get easier.

“But I still think we’ll be successful in recruiting the primary guys we’ll be looking for.”

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