The Cleveland Browns offseason seemed to grind to a halt over the last few days waiting for QB Deshaun Watson to make a decision. The Browns were ruled out by Watson before an about-face and agreeing to be traded to the team.
Cleveland’s offseason so far has had a few moves:
There are still needs on the team as well as areas that the Browns could find upgrades with players wanting to join a top-flight quarterback. Landry could return. Jadeveon Clowney seems like he could be interested in a return.
So what is left on the free-agent market that could intrigue Cleveland? At this time, kickers and punters were not included but the need is very obvious. Hopefully, the Browns can find answers there.
The addition of Winovich is helpful but a starting level player still could be needed here. Clowney, as we noted, would be a seamless fit returning to Cleveland after a very good year. Much of the rest of the market has been scooped up but there are still a few talents out there:
- Clowney – While money is his priority, success with the Browns last year could help sell him to return.
- Za’Darius Smith – Cut by Green Bay, Smith originally decided to return to Baltimore but changed his mind. He was hurt last year but has been very successful at rushing the passer. It will be interesting what he signs for compared to the four-year, $ 50 million deal with the Ravens.
- Justin Houston – The veteran pass rusher didn’t have a great year in Indianapolis last year but is still strong and fast enough to make an impact despite not having the sack numbers some would like.
- Arden Key – Washed out with Las Vegas, Key was reinvigorated with San Fransisco last year. Still young and coming off his best sack season, 6.5, Key could be a player to build with Myles Garrett.
- Melvin Ingram – Similar to Houston, Ingram had a down year. He started with Pittsburgh but requested a trade. He finished strong with Kansas City and has a little pop left in his game.
- Derek Barnett – Coming off his rookie contract, Barnett is known by Andrew Berry from Berry’s one year with Philadelphia. Barnett hasn’t been a huge sack guy but has had three seasons with five or more in his five years in the league.
- Jerry Hughes – Another older veteran with some gas left in the tank, Hughes has played well for Buffalo and could look to come to another contender.
While the Bryan signing may be helpful, much like Winovich’s addition, the team still needs more here. Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai have not proven to be starting-level players yet.
- Larry Ogunjobi – Had a bounce-back year as a 3-technique with Cincinnati, a playoff foot injury and surgery caused him to fail his physical with Chicago. Perhaps one year back in Cleveland at his proper role, instead of as a 1-technique nose tackle, he will help reset his market.
- Calais Campbell – Listed as a defensive end for the Ravens odd-front defense, Campbell is another veteran that may have lost a step but is still productive. His huge frame di lui would make him a great force on the inside with Garrett on the outside.
- Ndamukong Suh – Even at 35, Suh is a quality defensive tackle with an amazing physique and technique. Tampa Bay has been bringing everyone back but may run out of cap space at some point.
- Akiem Hicks – The big burly Hicks has been disruptive but may be hitting the wall in terms of being highly productive for a few more years. Despite that, he could be a helpful piece of the puzzle in Cleveland.
- Linval Joseph – The huge Joseph is another 30+ year old that could be a role player for the Browns as a space-eater in the middle with strength.
With MJ Stewart in Houston and Ronnie Harrison a free agent, safety is a position the Browns need to look to address. There are a few names left at the top of the list:
- Tyrann Mathieu – The Honey Badger played with Watson in Houston and is no stranger to getting second chances. An amazing leader with a great defensive IQ, Mathieu isn’t the perfect fit next to John Johnson III and Grant Delpit but they could make it work.
- Landon Collins – Another safety that doesn’t exactly fit next to the other two, but neither did Harrison, is Collins. More of a safety / linebacker, Collins can do a lot of good things to help Cleveland’s defense if the price is right.
- Terrell Edmunds – The former Steeler is young but has not lived up to his draft slot to the point that Pittsburgh declined his fifth-year option. Still, athletic enough to grow and develop he could come in and help the Browns, again, if the price is right.
- DeShon Elliott – Another former AFC North rival, Elliott has been hit or miss with Baltimore but some of that was due to injuries. A new location could be very helpful and provide the Browns with good depth.
- Jayron Kearse – Bounced around the league a little bit but has shown to be a starting level safety with Dallas last year.
With Amari Cooper on the team but having moved the 13th pick, Cleveland could be looking for another receiver in free agency and one in the NFL draft as well. Interestingly, two of the names on this list are former Browns. One is highly unlikely, the other more so.
- Will Fuller – There had been rumors that Fuller would follow Watson wherever he went. Former teammates in Houston, where Fuller had 8 touchdowns with Watson in 2020, the speedy receiver was hurt most of last season with Miami. Injuries have been a problem much of his career di lui with him only playing more than 11 games one season in his six-year career. His ability of him to make big plays is tantalizing.
- Jarvis Landry – Discussed more here, Landry is a solid slot receiver but his huge contract did not fit his production.
- Odell Beckham Jr. – While a return is close to 0% likely, Beckham showed his talents with Los Angeles as a secondary playmaker. With Cooper in Cleveland and Watson running the show, a return would make for an interesting story. He also tore his ACL di lui and may only play late in the 2022 season and playoffs.
- Julio Jones – Another big name whose game has fallen off, Tennessee released Jones after trading a second-round pick just last year to get him. Injuries are a lingering concern for the once-great pass catcher.
- Jamison Crowder – Similar to Fuller, Crowder can make plays but struggles to stay on the field. With Cleveland working to build depth, they could take a risk on one of the injury-prone guys and then take precautions to keep them healthy.
With Hooper gone, David Njoku and Harrison Bryant are the two main tight ends in Cleveland. Kevin Stefanski likes to use a few of them so signing one in free agency is possible but maybe not a big name from this list:
- Rob Gronkowski – Seems like Gronk is heading back to Tampa Bay but could be a fun addition with the Browns.
- Gerald Everett – More a tight end by name, wide receiver by game, Everett is a solid pass-catching option.
- Kyle Rudolph – Discussed when he got released, Rudolph knows Stefanski and could benefit from a reunion.
- Jimmy Graham – Far more name than game at this point, Graham only played 23% of his team’s snaps last year.
- Jared Cook – Besides sharing a first name with this author, Cook has been a solid tight end in the NFL for years. Last year with the Los Angeles Chargers, Cook had 564 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. The two years before that he combined for 16 touchdowns.