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Release of Patterson might be signal Browns are heading away from keeping Heckert

By Pat McManamon

I wrote something (something or other) here today that dealt with the Brown sudden release of Dimitri Patterson.

Now, it’s not like the Brown released Mike Haynes, but when a nickel back is released with two games left for no apparent reason, it’s odd.

Patterson was a serviceable player the Browns fought to retain last offseason when he got to free agency. To the point that they gave him a three-year, $16 million contract in the offseason, with $6 million guaranteed. Clearly Heckert liked this guy he brought in from Philadelphia.

Then they cut him.

Patterson did nothing wrong, had no awful play, no blown coverage, no off-the-field incident. All he did was take part in a losing effort against Washington. If that were criteria for being released, the Browns would have seven players left.

Patterson was claimed outright by Miami, which picked up his contract. The Miami Herald described Patterson as “apoplectic” when discussing his release.

He said folks would have to ask Pat Shurmur why he was let go, and added: “I don’t think [anyone] is happy when something like that happens, unless it’s a real, real bad situation.”

Shurmur’s approach was to say he wouldn’t talk about it.

Which speaks loudly by itself.

There were whispers that Patterson had gotten a bit of a big head after signing his deal, and grumblings that he should have returned faster from a sprained ankle that sidelined him seven games.

But if either concern were “real bad,” Patterson would have been let go long ago.

To have it happen this suddenly and for no apparent reason hints at a bigger things going on in the Browns front office. Because a GM who signed a player eight months ago usually doesn’t release him like this.

This seems to fit the MO of Joe Banner, who came aboard clearly wanting more say in personnel than he had in Philadelphia, where his reputation was that of a sound businessman who did his best work when he did not try to be a football guy.

In talking with Sheldon Brown about Banner — the two had their disagreements — he said that the Eagles had a lot of success while Banner was there and won a lot of games, so he couldn’t be that critical.

But he did say that a lot of guys left because of Banner’s hard-nosed style, and he said that Patterson’s release was a surprise.

He also said player pay attention to decisions and how they’re made, because it’s their profession.

The release of Ronnie Cameron and addition of Brad Smelley to the roster fits the MO as well; it too, came suddenly and for no apparent reason (Smelley was inactive last week and would be this week were it not for Jordan Cameron’s injury).

This way of operating may be all well and good — provided Banner makes the right decisions. But it sure hints at a sea change in the front office, and more rebuilding.

And it certainly seems to be making a statement about the future of Tom Heckert, a guy Brown said knows what he’s doing who has the team set up for success. (Brown said he and Banner talked after his trade to Cleveland, and he left with respect and on good terms with him as well).

Banner as CEO is entitled to make decisions he sees fit.

But the mix of Banner and Heckert does not seem to be blending.

Heckert wants final say over personnel, something he’s had since he joined the Browns and something he needed to leave Philadelphia.

Banner seems to be making moves that Heckert would not. Dare we say they may even be forced?

If this seems like a fit Heckert would like in the future, then a bunch of wailing banshees would sound good with the Irish tenors.

Whether Banner is forcing this issue, whether he just wants to be more involved in football or whether he’s structuring things so Heckert leaves and he can bring in a guy he has in mind, it just does not seem to be playing out well for Heckert to stay as the GM in Cleveland.

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