So, Cleveland lost four players — four! — on the very first day of free agency. Here’s my take:
C Alex Mack — The second best lineman on the team, this one hurts. Going to Atlanta might be a good fit for him, and it isn’t likely to have reciprocations against Cleveland in the short term, but I really hoped we could keep Mack.
FS Tashaun Gipson — Gipson was a useful player in 2014, but was hurt pretty often in 2015 and didn’t really show much. Gipson goes to Jacksonville. I wish him the best, but this move doesn’t hurt as much as some of the others.
RT Mitchell Schwartz — Very strange day for Schwartz. The front office had an offer in place that probably would have kept him in Cleveland, but then inexplicably pulled it. I like Schwartz, but not as much as Mack. Losing both players is still a serious and weird problem for a team that’s committed to drafting a QB. If we trade Joe Thomas too — who might want out of Cleveland now — we might be doomed. Schwartz went to Kansas City.
WR Travis Benjamin — Benjamin had a career year in 2015 and Cleveland doesn’t have a ton of receivers, but losing Benjamin is fixable. He went to San Diego.
If I were to rank the moves in terms of badness, Mack is #1, then Schwartz, then Benjamin, then Gipson. Thankfully, none of them signed within the division. I have to wonder why Cleveland didn’t try harder to get Mack re-signed and, especially, why Cleveland pulled the offer to Schwartz. I just hope we can sign some players to make up for these losses over the next few weeks.