The Browns are making one thing clear: They think their rookie class has an attitude problem that needs fixing.
After the team finished the season 7-9, a game in which first-round pick Justin Gilbert was inactive after showing up late for a Saturday meeting, owner Jimmy Haslam said that the inconsistencies from his younger players were not acceptable.
"We're not going to tolerate people who are irresponsible no matter what round they were drafted in," the owner said via the Akron Beacon Journal.
His words come a day after Johnny Manziel, another first-round pick, was fined for missing treatment. Despite ending the season on IR, he was expected to show up to the team facility for scheduled rehab. Veteran receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for violating team rules while missing the walkthrough.
"I think (it) is the ultimate team game and I think a player who can't show up for meetings, can't make practice, can't make weight lifting, disrespects himself," Haslam said. "But I think more importantly, and I think this is what these young guys miss -- they disrespect the team, the coaches, the staff, the fans."
In the same session, Haslam was clear that head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer will return, which means he's placing the policing of these younger players solely in their hands. It was both a vote of confidence and a clear signal that the plucky Browns of just a few weeks ago were further off than many might have thought.
Some of Gordon, Gilbert and Manziel's teammates were less careful with their words than Haslam.
"I've been assured that we are going to bring guys in and get guys off this bus that don't really want to be here and what they are supposed to do," safety Donte Whitner said.
With a 2014 draft class loaded with talent and making immediate impacts across the league, Pettine and Farmer will ultimately bear the responsibility for Manziel and Gilbert, especially when the Browns could have walked away with -- pick a name -- Odell Beckham and Kelvin Benjamin. Haslam knows this, and it seems like his message was two fold.