Free agency hasn't even officially started, but the Cleveland Browns are already hurting.
The NFL Network reported that wide receiver Travis Benjamin will leave the Browns for the San Diego Chargers. Soon after that news, word broke that the top receiver available in free agency, Marvin Jones, would sign with Detroit.
Both can sign deals at 4 p.m., when free agency officially begins. Not getting one or both to Cleveland hurts the Browns.
This is the risk with the Browns not signing their own free-agents-to-be. Benjamin had a good year on a bad team, and his departure creates a need. The same will be true if or when center Alex Mack, tackle Mitchell Schwartz and free safety Tashaun Gipson sign elsewhere. A three-win team with plenty of needs created four more needs by not keeping their own.
As for Jones, the NFL Network's Mike Silver reported via Twitter that Jones chose Detroit over New England and Cincinnati. That's an interesting choice given the quality of the teams in New England and Cincinnati, but as a free agent, Jones has the right to go where he pleases.
The more interesting fact was that Silver posted the Browns "oddly did not come after Jones." That would seem to indicate the team didn't feel the money required matched what the Browns were willing to pay.
The team entered free agency not wanting or planning to spend a boatload of money, and what happened with Jones and Benjamin seems to confirm that approach.
San Diego's immediate move for Benjamin shows the respect teams around the league had for his growth as a receiver and his special-teams return ability.
Associate head coach Pep Hamilton mentioned Benjamin first when asked about the team's playmakers. Now, barring a last-minute push by the Browns to get him to change his mind (which seems unlikely), he's going west.
Jones is a guy new coach Hue Jackson knows well and a guy who seemed like a logical Browns target.
He's going to Detroit.
The situation with Josh Gordon now takes on new importance. The team still awaits word on his reinstatement from his suspension, then has to make a decision.
Gordon is talented, but he's been suspended for two, 10 and 16 games by the league the past three seasons (and one game by the team). Last weekend, Gordon was seen on social media hanging out with Johnny Manziel in Las Vegas at the MMA fight.
With a void at wide receiver, the simple question becomes this: Do the Browns place their trust in a talented receiver who has been suspended for 27 of the team's past 32 games?