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Cleveland Browns to start Robert Griffin III vs. Bengals

Most people understood the intention was not a serious one even as the “0-for” beard evolved. I’ve always been a Browns fan since I was a kid. I remember the glory days of the 1980s. I remember the day the Browns left in 1995. I remember walking into old Cleveland Stadium to buy a seat in 1996. My basement is decorated in Cleveland sports memorabilia spanning 30 plus years. This season was as tough for me as it was for all of Cleveland. I can’t imagine how tough this has been on the Browns organization.

So I want to thank everyone who has followed this since September 8th. Its December 25th. I just finished applying some Beard Oil to my 106 day old growth knowing that the end of the beard is at hand. My family is rejoicing. It’s truly been an exciting ride.jersye

The signing is the latest savvy move on the part of Sashi Brown, Browns executive VP of football operations, who hasn’t constructed a contender for 2016, but has stocked the cupboard with a handful of young talent and even more future high draft picks. It fills a void created by last week’s deal that sent Lee to the for a fourth-round pick, which, when considering the Browns just gave up nothing to secure a near-equivalent veteran punter (Lee’s 2015 average net yardage: 40.1; Colquitt’s: 39.7), looks to be quite a coup.

Add in the Aug. 25 deal that garnered the Browns a fifth-rounder for Barkevious Mingo, a linebacker who was very much on the bubble and even more likely to get cut, and the news that Philadelphia traded starting quarterback to Minnesota (Cleveland owns Philadelphia’s 2017 first-rounder), and it’s been a pretty good couple of weeks for Brown and Co.

A trade became increasingly likely after the Browns declined to pick up Mingo’s fifth-year option back in April. It became even more likely after the Browns reunited Mingo with his first NFL defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, in 2016. Horton likely knew Mingo’s limitations in the scheme and cheap nhl jerseys and preferred to pivot in another direction with a platoon of young pass rushers coming in via the draft.

It will be interesting to see what, exactly, New England’s plans are for Mingo, who has been reluctant to discuss his weight ever since he was drafted. The buzz on him this offseason was that he packed on more muscle than ever, though that didn’t seem to clear the way for a starting role in Cleveland’s new-look defense. Mingo seems personally invested in salvaging his NFL career and he might have found the perfect place to do it.

Under contract through next season, Griffin was sold to fans in August as a potential long-term answer under center. His inability to stay healthy come September, though, looms as a major red flag for any team that sees him as more than a spot starter.

Forward-thinking Browns fans might wonder why wouldn’t simply finish out the season. His two concussions are one possible reason, but don’t ignore the bleak win-loss column. Jackson clearly believes Griffin gives the Browns their best chance for a victory — which is exactly how he felt before Week 1.

The weight of a long losing season could eventually take its toll on the Browns, though this team has already seen two years’ worth of bad news crash into the facility in a matter of weeks. Their starting and backup quarterbacks are gone. The quarterback they passed on at No. 2 is apparently Peyton Manning pre-snap and Aaron Rodgers post-snap. The player they drafted instead, wide receiver Corey Coleman, broke his hand after a breakout week.

And yet, last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins didn’t seem like the book-closing moment that everyone expected it to be. Instead, the Browns are giving themselves a chance to run an offense that could be piloted by a converted wide receiver for more than a quarter of its offensive snaps. While we hate to use the phrase, this is a “rag-tag” operation right now that seems to have finally accepted its circumstances. Coach Hue Jackson has them looking forward instead of deeper down an endless black hole of disappointment.

NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the Browns would be smart to invest both of their first-round selections on the defensive side of the ball, in a pass rusher and a safety.

The field of potential candidates for the No. 1 pick won’t be set until after the Jan. 16 deadline for college underclassmen to file for early draft eligibility. Draft order is set from worst records to best, and in the case of tied records, schedule strength is used as a tiebreaker.