The Cleveland Browns Are in ‘Win-Now Mode’


There’s a lot of talk about if the Cleveland Browns are going to be a playoff contender in the 2023 season. Are they going to fly under the radar? Or are they hyped up as going to have a good season?

One Browns expert says the team is in “win-now mode,” while another thinks they’re flying under the radar.

Browns Analyst Terry Pluto Says The Team is in ‘Win-Now Mode’

In the April 9 mailbag column on, Browns reporter Terry Pluto was asked about receiver Anthony Schwartz’s future on the team now that the Browns traded for WR Elijah Moore. Pluto gave an interesting answer about the team being in the mentality of it’s time to start competing near the top of the league.

“The Browns are in a win-now mode,” wrote Pluto, going on to say that between Moore and Marquise Goodwin, the team is pretty full-up on receivers and he thinks both Schwartz and running back Demetric Felton Jr. are “long shots to make the 2023 roster” — Schwartz because of the aforementioned new receivers and Felton because Pluto thinks the Browns will “draft a running back in the lower rounds” of the 2023 draft.

Pluto also revealed that the Browns were bound and determined to sign Deshaun Watson last spring when he was looking for a new team. They made “several contract offers” to Watson that were declined, so they eventually called Watson and “basically asked what it would take to make the deal.”

The Cleveland Browns are all in on Watson and now that they’ve acquired some receivers for him and shored up the defensive line, they’re ready to start contending.

Browns Analyst Nathan Zegura Still Thinks the Browns are Under the Radar This Year

Despite the high-profile signings, Browns analyst Nathan Zegura told ESPN Cleveland last week on April 6 that he thinks the Browns are under the radar this year and he likes it that way.

Zegura broke down the last few years thusly:

Look at our recent history, right, 2018 we’re under the radar, we didn’t make the playoffs, but we had a nice run. Two thousand nineteen, all hyped up, not really a great year; 2020 because of the 2019 failure, totally under the radar. New coach Kevin Stefanski, we go to the playoffs. Twenty-twenty-one, very hyped up, you know what happened with the injuries there, we did not have a good season.

Twenty-twenty-two, kind of a weird season. I don’t know that we were hyped up, everybody knew it was going to be tough, but underachieved a little bit certainly. The Jets game, I think, had such a lasting impact on the season. But yeah, we are under the radar, it’s a lot of ‘prove it,’ and frankly, that’s kind of where we should be, right?

Zegura finished by saying that the Browns are set up to be “very good” this year.

“I mean, we’ve been to the playoffs once. We won a playoff game. This is not a team that’s been there every single year where you have kind of that cache to say, ‘Oh yeah, the Browns are gonna be good.’ That hasn’t been the case. But is it set up for us to be very good? Absolutely,” said Zegura.

At the annual NFL meeting in Arizona, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam stopped short of saying there’s an ultimatum for the playoffs for head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry, both of whom are in the fourth year of their five-year contracts. But he did say he expects to make the playoffs.

“I don’t want to say that [it’s the playoffs or else], but I think that we have expectations to go to the playoffs,” Haslam told’s Mary Kay Cabot. “But I’m not going to say if we don’t make the playoffs, X, Y, Z happens because that’ll be the headline tomorrow. Listen, the AFC is tough. You’ve all been around. Our division is tough.”

He added, “You all know how hard it is to win in the NFL. We certainly do. So I think everybody has a sense of urgency that we need to play well this year.”

When asked point-blank about extending Stefanski and Berry’s contracts, Haslam praised the job they’ve been doing but did not say that they’ve talked about a contract extension.

“That’s premature to say. We’ll talk about that at the appropriate time,” said the owner.

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