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Dawson again begins an offseason uncertain about the future

By Pat McManamon

Phil Dawson’s last kick Sunday was a 51-yarder.

Naturally he made it.

Yes, Dawson missed a shorter kick earlier, but he offered no excuses, said he aimed wrong and the wind did not bring the ball in the way he expected.

Now Dawson, again, wonders about his future, and whether he would want to stay “here” with the Browns.

“I don’t know what ‘here’ is,” he said, referring to impending change in the front office and coaching staff. “I love Cleveland. I love everything about this place. But we’ll have to wait and see what all is going on around here, and if they want me.”

New management or not, if the Browns don’t want Dawson they should have their heads examined.

Dawson finished his 14th season 29-for-31 on field goals, with one of the misses partially blocked.

He was seven-for-seven from 50 yards or more, and was 13-for-13 from 40 yards or more.

He made his first Pro Bowl, and served as the team captain.

Dawson is not the kind to take money if he can’t earn it, so there really is little risk in signing him.

But Dawson also has more leverage this offseason, as the team cannot franchise him. Doing so would cost the Browns $14.6 million against the cap, and even a team with cap room can’t give a kicker that kind of salary.

That allows Dawson to ponder testing the market and decide if he wants to live through yet another regime change in Cleveland, the seventh since 1999.

“Change is never fun to go through,” Dawson said. “It’s a tough transition. It usually means a lot of turnover on the roster. We’ve all been through that. You get close with a group of guys and you kind of have to start from square one the next year, and that’s always a challenge.

“That’s  just how this business is. If I’m here, I’ll embrace it and do what I’ve always done.”

One quibble: The business is not that way for every team.

But as Dawson said, it’s all he knows.

“This,” he said, “is my normal.”

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