|Heckhert and Holmgren could be sweating their future. (US Presswire)|
The Browns are getting ready for the 2012 NFL season (preview their chances here!), but they've also got the weight of an impending sale of the franchise to Jimmy Haslam to deal with in the background.
For the players, the change is fairly minimal. For the front office, well, it's a different story, particularly because, as GM Tom Heckert told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, "no one's really sure what's going to happen."
"Until we sit down with the new owner, no one's really sure what's going to happen," said Heckert. "I've told the guys on my staff and some of the players to just keep doing what they're doing. From a football standpoint, there's not a whole that can be changed at this point, so it's got to be business as usual."
The point that the Browns can't change much right now is valid: but there's a lot more at stake for them in 2012 than there might've been otherwise, thanks to the possibility of a sale. Loading up on offensive rookies -- Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon are all good bets to start -- normally might buy a front office time with ownership, in order to let the talent develop.
But there's also the very strong chance that the trio of youngsters don't turn immediate dividends for Cleveland in terms of something tangible like, say, wins. And if the Browns struggle badly in 2012, and Haslam is in control of the team by the time the offseason rolls around, it's very possible that he'll want to make significant changes.
In fact, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora reported something similar while writing about Cleveland's ownership situation from Browns training camp.
"Haslam has also received glowing recommendations from the league on bringing in former Eagles team president Joe Banner in the same position, league sources said, and while the issue of Banner's precise equity stake may still need to be resolved, many in the league office expect Banner to end up in Cleveland," La Canfora wrote recently. "That would spell the end of [team president Mike] Holmgren's regime, and by the end of the season another series of sweeping organizational changes would be afoot. "
And here's another thing on Haslam: he's not some rookie owner who's walking into a situation blind. He's been a partial owner of the Steelers for some time now, and one has to assume he understands the importance of having a front office on the same page as ownership.
Additionally, if you're going to drop the kind of cash required to buy a new NFL franchise, are you really not going to invest in changes that you prefer and changes that you believe will improve the new franchise? That's like spending a few million to buy the most downtrodden mansion on the block and not spending dropping the extra cash to fix it up and make it your home.
It's that line of thinking that likely has Heckert, Holmgren and everyone else in the Browns front office not just unsure, but also very concerned for their future job security.
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