INDIANAPOLIS — When potential trades for receivers Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. came up Thursday, Browns General Manager John Dorsey held up his phone and quipped to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Kevin Colbert and the New York Giants’ Dave Gettleman, “If you're out there, here's my cell phone right here.”

As great a visual as that was — and as exciting as that possibility seems — Dorsey said later he was joking.

Less prudent men might not be.

As the Browns try to build on momentum from last season’s 5-3 finish and take the next step from 7-8-1 to playoff contention, Dorsey has assets to burn.

He has 10 picks in the first six rounds of the 2019 draft, including 17th overall, which could be attractive to opponents who want to move up.

With projected salary cap space of more than $70 million, he could plunge head-first into free agency when it opens on March 13.

With quarterback Baker Mayfield signed for three more years, he has the cornerstone to build the franchise around, which he said opens more options on how to construct the team.

But while some see a window of opportunity opening in the AFC North, Dorsey isn’t ready to "go for it."

“I don’t think we’re a team yet to go for it,” Dorsey said at the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. “We have a young, talented team. Let’s build a foundation here, let’s build a team of substance. We’re not done yet in terms of getting this thing right.

“Every year we want to win, that’s the overarching goal. I’m not going to go out and waste a whole bunch of money because I have to think three and four years down the road. I just can’t think for the immediate future.”

Patience is not a virtue of Browns fans, ravenous for the first playoff appearance since 2002, the lone one in the expansion era.

But Dorsey is realistic. He needs a defensive tackle to play alongside Larry Ogunjobi. He needs receivers. He needs more speed, even on special teams. He needs depth. He needs a kicker. He needs tight end David Njoku to improve his run blocking.

His top three linebackers — Jamie Collins, Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey (limited to seven games by injury) — are not game-changing playmakers. They produced a combined four interceptions, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, seven sacks and 17 tackles for losses last season. That’s the virtual equivalent of one season for the Bears’ three-time All-Pro Khalil Mack, who forced six fumbles, while notching 12½ sacks and 18 tackles for losses in 2018.

Those inadequacies are why Dorsey isn’t inclined to make a trade for a big-name receiver, which would require sacrificing too many future assets.

“I'll take 53 really good football players, OK?” he said. “That's not to say that once we get back from the combine and meet as a personnel staff and a coaching staff and talk some things out, then we'll be ready to move forward in terms of unrestricted free agency. We'll be getting ready to execute our plan.”

Not all agree that the AFC North is ripe for the taking. Former Browns quarterback Brady Quinn, during a break from Sirius/XM NFL radio, said Thursday he’s not writing off the Steelers, even though quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turns 37 Saturday and they are presumably going to lose Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. Quinn also said he believes the Bengals and Ravens will improve in 2019.

Dorsey dodged a question on whether the Browns had closed the gap on the Steelers, who tied the Browns in the opener and saw their string of four consecutive seasons making the playoffs snapped last year. He said the new coaching staff led by Freddie Kitchens will try to help the team improve daily and “hopefully along the way we've sprinkled [in] a few extra players that can kind of pull you to the next level."

Unless Dorsey is disguising his intentions well, the Browns will not “go for it” in the next few months. There are still too many holes to fill. He wants to build the right way, to acquire players who are special people.

“I think you'll know when the time's ready,” Dorsey said. “But right now, what we're trying to do is plan for the '19 season with the future in mind."

Dorsey’s deliberate approach may seem maddening, but that’s because Mayfield’s magic covered up a lot of the 2018 Browns’ flaws. Dorsey, though, sees them all too clearly.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.