So What Comes Next for Cleveland Sports?

Updated: Mar 19





With an extremely disappointing football season safely behind us, we now have time to properly reflect while also looking ahead at what is to come. So let’s take a look at the Recent Past, the Present, and the Future of Cleveland Sports.


Recent Past


Browns


This was easily one of the most disappointing seasons of Browns football that I have witnessed in my nearly 30 years on earth. Inconsistency from the offense, a slow start from the defense, timid coaching decisions, inability to make adjustments on the fly, injury issues, covid-19 issues, locker room drama, division amongst the fans, and ultimately a sub-500 record all collectively reached into our chest and ripped out our hearts.


Coming off the first Browns playoff win since 1994 everyone, including those outside the fanbase, felt confident enough to say that the Browns were legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The hype of the offseason and the key defensive additions built up the image of a Cleveland Browns championship and it was, without a doubt, the most exciting offseason I have ever been a part of.


But alas, we all know the misery and despair of being a fan of Cleveland sports. The curse has been almost unbreakable over the years, especially when it comes to the Browns and this year turned out to be more of the same. The saving grace in this instance is that, at the very least, there will be some semblance of continuity and consistency heading into the offseason.


Cavs


The Cavs burst onto the scene and up to this point have been clicking in all cylinders. Dealing with adversity early on losing Collin Sexton to a season-ending injury, fighting through a covid-19 outbreak, and then losing the reinvigorated Ricky Rubio to a season-ending injury as well, this team banded together and showed incredible resilience.


The Cavs have shown they are without a doubt a playoff-caliber team, being top tier defensively with a crew of extremely versatile 7-footers and having shooting depth off the bench in Kevin Love, Cedi Osman, and Dylan Windler have proven to be the keys to success so far this season.


They managed to tally more wins through the first half of the season this year than they did the entire 72 game season last year. Evan Mobley and Darius Garland have been the obvious catalysts for this success thus far. They have each shown incredible growth and the rest of the team seems to feed off their effort and confidence as the game goes on. All-in-all a very pleasant surprise.


Guardians


With Major League Baseball and the Players Association bickering like an old married couple, the news has been rather slow going. As far as the Guardians are concerned, they have managed to quietly put together a pretty decent lockout so far. Bringing back all managers from every minor league affiliate as well as adding a lot of high-level young talent to their 40-man roster are extremely important and seemingly overlooked off-season moves. Also, the addition of a new minority owner in David Blitzer could signify bigger and better things to come.


Current President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti has been open about their desire to increase spending in the coming seasons and a new minority owner alongside a brand new CBA could prove to be exactly the kickstart this franchise needs to succeed.


Once the new CBA is agreed upon things are likely to move very quickly. Free agency and Spring Training will seem a bit rushed this year (under the assumption that there is a legitimate Spring Training) but that could bode well for the Guardians as a small market team. Most teams have been very adamant about cutting payroll heading into the next few seasons since these free-agent classes are going to set the market for the entirety of the next CBA.


The Guardians have been able to set a payroll number south of $50Million while stockpiling young talent in the hopes that they could extend their superstars and potentially bring in another superstar bat to pull everything together. We have spoken about this before on the podcast but if the league agrees on a salary floor, you will begin to see some serious spending coming out of Cleveland which puts them in a great position to sign big-name free agents in the near future.



Present


The current state of Cleveland sports doesn’t need to be divided into 3 teams. The overall feeling seems to be a mixture of disappointment, excitement, hesitance, and hope. Such a strange combination of emotions but this is the essence of Cleveland sports fandom. Though we continually face heartbreak there is something inside that keeps us moving forward no matter how terrible it may get. Cleveland fans are a lot of things including loud, passionate, and boisterous but the one thing we all have that keeps us coming back is loyalty.


So, no matter where you stand on the pressing issues revolving around Cleveland sports just hang in there. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it a million more times, we’ve been through worse and come out the other side. Things are trending up in all three of Cleveland’s major sports. The Guardians are getting younger and more talented, the Cavs are way ahead of schedule and maybe a 4th seed in the East, and the Browns still have a supremely talented roster and with the additions made this offseason and everyone coming back healthy they will be poised to go back to the playoffs next year.



Future



Browns


Heading into next season the Browns need help at the receiver position. All signs point to the Browns prioritizing a wideout in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Other positions of need include but aren’t limited to, a linebacker to plug up the middle and stuff the run, interior defensive line, offensive line depth, and depending on free agency probably a versatile safety.


I am no expert but the two most important pieces that should be locked up ASAP are David Njoku and Jedaveon Clowney. Those two were vital to any success the Browns had this season, Njoku being our leading receiver and Clowney being so stout against the run and rushing the passer opposite of Myles Garrett.


Baker Mayfield will be returning as the Browns starting QB next season and playing on his fifth-year option. There won’t be an extension agreed upon this offseason or even mid-season next year because the Browns front office still has the franchise tag available for the 2022-23 season. Neither party is in a hurry mainly because Baker has had success in the past and both sides believe he can get back to that.


That being said, Baker isn’t the type of QB who is going to “throw guys open.” By that I mean he doesn’t make anticipatory throws. He is the type of QB who has to see separation before he can pull the trigger. Because of this, he needs receivers who are route running specialists who can find openings in the defense (without deviating from their route).


There are a few different options in the draft that could fit the description and we will go over those on the podcast in a couple of months but there are a couple of free agents that could be a possibility.


The first option is a dark horse that many people have just recently begun to hear about. Byron Pringle, currently the number 3 or 4 receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs, could be a very interesting free agent. There have already been rumblings that Juju Smith-Schuster is interested in signing with KC this offseason. If something like that were to happen, Byron Pringle would most likely not re-sign.


Pringle doesn’t have the body of work that you would expect from a solid free agent wideout but the number that stands out to me is his average yards of separation. He ended the regular season with 3.46 yards of separation per target and wound up having a few big targets in the postseason so far. It would be interesting to see how he would fare alongside another separation specialist in Jarvis Landry. Those two paired with David Njoku (who always seems to get open) could be exactly what Baker Mayfield needs to have a bounce-back season.


Another more obvious choice, with a FAR greater body of work, would have to be Christian Kirk. The 4th year wideout had a really solid showing this past season, pulling together 77 receptions for 982 yards and 5 touchdowns. He will definitely be the more pricey and sought-after option but his 3.43 yards of separation per target looks much more impressive given the fact that he was target 103 times on the year.


Cavs


Simply put, the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers is now. It is so difficult to speculate what kind of moves they could make at this point because things are going so well. With the trade deadline looming there are a few moves that could potentially put the Cavs over the top and instantly make them a contender. That being said, they just whipped the reigning champs up and down the floor for 48 minutes. Does that give the front office enough confidence in what they have going forward?


Personally, I would let the season play out with the team they have now. Everyone will be getting healthy right around the All-Star break and they could pick up right where they left off. And a recent development says that Collin Sexton has a chance to be back at full speed should the Cavs make a playoff run. Adding another 20 points in an off the bench role (I’m assuming) would be exactly what this team would need to push them past the favorites in the East.


Guardians


Any of you who listen to our show know that Baseball is my ultimate, number one, favorite sport. A lot of people struggle with their baseball fandom and that’s perfectly okay, it isn’t for everyone but this is actually an exciting offseason for me. The idea that the Guardians could be starting fresh, new name, new CBA, new young players, gives me more hope for this team than I have ever had pre-season.


We don’t know what this new CBA will bring but there will be language about service time and the possibility of that Salary floor that we keep talking about. Any sort of service time change could be important for the Cleveland Guardians because it would force the front office to finally transition to their stash of young talent.


Guys like Nolan Jones, Gabriel Arias, Richie Palacios, Steven Kwan, and even George Valera could be candidates for call-ups this year depending on how free agency plays out once the lockout is over. These are the moves that we have been waiting and salivating over for the last few years and there is a good possibility that they come to fruition sooner rather than later.


Ultimately, Cleveland sports are in much better shape than most give credit for and they continue to trend upward every day. The Browns, Cavs, and Guardians are each in a position to be championship contenders within the next five years if things keep going the way they are. There is so much to be excited about even though it may seem like a frustrating time for Cleveland so let’s all take a step back. Keep rooting on our Cavs, look forward to the next step in Guardians baseball, and give Andrew Berry a chance to put his plans in motion for the Browns. And in the meantime, let us keep you up to date on all things Cleveland sports!



So let's continue to Have fun, stay safe, and as always Cleveland Don’t Messett Up.


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