The Cleveland Browns knew how it would look if four starters left the team as free agents, but they were willing to live with the fallout.
The team is undergoing a tear down and rebuild, and trying to operate in a consistent and particular way. The emphasis will be on the draft, and the draft, and the draft after that.
Salary-cap money will be saved until the roster is built to the point that one or two players may make a difference in making the playoffs or not.
The risk is that by losing its own players the team creates needs and treads water, but the Browns will live with the risk because they feel the best way to go is dismantle and rebuild with younger players via the draft.
Though they will try to win every game possible, this approach does not bode well for the 2016 season.
As for the four starters, who left, each has their own story.
Mitchell Schwartz's tale sounded the most disappointing, as the NFL Network reported the Browns pulled an offer to the right tackle.
The Browns made Schwartz an offer prior to free agency. Cleveland.com reported it was worth $7 million per year. Schwartz's camp said he wanted to test the market, but felt there was an agreement the team's offer would stand after he saw what was available on the market. When he found more money wasn't necessarily out there, he came back to the Browns to see if the pre-free agency offer stood.
The team at that point had moved on. Schwartz's money had been parceled elsewhere. He wound up signing in Kansas City for a reported $6.6 million per year.
The argument could be made the team should have reconsidered and taken Schwartz back. He is a professional who has done a lot right since he was drafted. His agent said that though he's excited to be in Kansas City, he liked Cleveland and wanted to stay. Add in the Browns had almost $50 million in salary-cap room. It does not seem like $7 million per year for a good right tackle is lavish.
The Browns didn't do it. The Browns live with the fallout.
Alex Mack made the decision he did not want to return when he opted out of the final three years of his contract March 4. In essence, that was the day he left Cleveland. He was not, though, offered more by the Browns than he took from the Falcons.
Travis Benjamin and the team simply had a disagreement about Benjamin's value. The team's new structure has talked over and over about being disciplined. This front office sets its price for a player, then sticks to it. Benjamin was simply seeking more than the Browns were willing to pay.
Tashaun Gipson and the team essentially parted ways a year ago when Gipson's anger over not receiving a first-round tender led him to stay away from offseason workouts. The Browns were not aggressive in pursuing him.
The bottom line for the Browns with each player was the answer to this question: Would any one of these players have made the difference in a five-win and 10-win season? Their answer was no.
However, all could have helped in some way, shape or form. And all would have sent a message to the rest of the team that players who do it right will be valued and rewarded. Now the team has to find a center, right tackle and receiver; Jordan Poyer is expected to be given the chance at free safety.
The Browns understand how it looks, and they understand the reaction.
They simply are willing to live with it.