The Cleveland Browns had a lot of room for improvement after finishing the 2011 season at 5-11 and in the basement of the AFC North. Despite their record they were pegged as a team on the rise by many league observers. OFF-SEASON RESTRICTED FREE AGENCY: GM LtJustice entered the offseason determined to improve his roster by any means necessary and it started with the restricted free agency period. With over $30 million in available cap room, the Browns reportedly made pitches to many of the top free agents on the market, but walked away empty handed. Some called the Browns offers just "token" gestures and questioned the organization's commitment to spending money on additional talent. DRAFT: Stung by his failure in restricted free agency, Justice set his sights to the Rookie Draft. Armed with 2 of the first 14 picks in the draft, the Browns were in position to add some great rookie talent. Despite fielding calls from more than half of the league looking to trade up, the Browns kept both picks and went defense with both, selecting safety Dorian Hill (North Colorado) and linebacker Brandon Hiller (Florida), 6th and 14th respectively. The Browns would wheel and deal through out the next two rounds and finished the day with 10 picks, including a pair in each of the first 3 rounds. Of the 10 picks only one failed to make the regular season roster; wide receiver Brandon Tracy (Texas), who was the Browns 4th round pick, was released in the final preseason cuts. UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENCY: With what was looked at as a successful draft behind them, the Browns were able to focus on the opening of free agency. Determined to have more success then he did in the RFA period, Justice was prepared to open the wallet in a big way for the players he thought could make a difference for the 2012 Browns. Their first moves came as they signed kickoff specialist Rhys Lloyd and defensive end William Hayes to contracts. Then they shocked the league as they signed cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Glover Quin Jr. to huge contracts on the same day, totaling almost $130 million between the two of them. 2012 SEASON OUTLOOK OFFENSE: Led by 2nd year quarterback Colt McCoy, the Browns and their fans are expecting big things from this offense. After a fairly successful rookie season (2727 yds, 25 TDs, 24 INTs), McCoy looks poised to break through to the next level of NFL passers. With an offense that was thought to be missing a solid possession receiver, the Browns added just that when they worked out an off-season trade to bring in T.J. Houshmandzadeh from the Seattle Seahawks. Now having Housh paired with last seasons top deep threat Michael Ray Garvin, the always explosive Joshua Cribbs, and the rest of the Browns young receivers, it looks like McCoy will have plenty of options to go to at the wide receiver position. The Browns running game features the return of the Thunder & Lightning duo of Beanie Wells (thunder) and Jerome Harrison (lightning). With two of the leagues top young backs to rely on, the Browns are hoping to keep the opposing defenses off balance. The Browns also drafted halfback Sam Elliot (Notre Dame), who is a raw talent but has a nice mix of power and speed. Pro Bowler Peyton Hillis returns as the starting fullback, backed up by devastating run blocker Terrelle Smith. The starting offensive line of the Browns features standouts Joe Thomas (LT), Eric Steinbach (LG), and Alex Mack (C). The line is rounded out by two rookies who earned their starting spots, Jacobie Barclay (RG) and Mike Justice (RT). The Browns traded back into the 2nd round after their selection (trading next years 2nd rounder to the Bills) to pick Justice and used the 3rd rounder received from Pittsburgh (in the deal that sent fullback Earnest Graham to the Steelers) to draft Barclay. DEFENSE: The Browns defense includes three rookie starters with Hill, Hiller, and 2nd round pick Jermaine Griffin (LB - Texas Tech), all getting the starting nod. The defense looks to continue their hybrid 3-4/4-3 mixed D that the coaches installed last season. The defensive line features new comers Hayes and rookies Jim Macko (3rd round pick out of UL Lafayette) and Brett Garner (7th Round - Iowa St) , along with Matt Roth, Cliff Avril, and returning Pro Bowl tackle Shaun Rogers. With rookies starting at both outside linebacker positions, the linebacking core looks to be young, but fast. With defensive captain Barrett Ruud and the returning promising young linebackers DeAndre Levy, Kaluka Maiava and Ali Highsmith, the linebacking group the Browns have assembled is definitely being noticed around the league. The Browns secondary is vastly improved from last seasons squad, with the additions of Carr and Glover and the rookie Hill. With last seasons top two picks, Joe Haden (CB) and T.J. Ward (SS), and the veteran standout Eric Wright, the Browns secondary looks to be a very promising strength for this defense. SPECIAL TEAMS: With veteran kicker Phil Dawson and Lloyd as the power kicker, the kicking game of the Browns looks ready for any situation. The Browns return game is always a threat with Cribbs back there and also features new addition Brandon Banks who can spell Cribbs when the situation calls for it. OVERALL The Browns were extremely disappointed with their 2010 showing and with the roster wide improvements that they've made this off-season, they are making no secret of the fact that anything less than the playoffs this season would be viewed as a failure. This definitely looks to be an exciting season of Cleveland Browns football that we are in for this year!