Top Three Biggest Needs For The Cleveland Browns in Free Agency

Top Three Biggest Needs For The Cleveland Browns in Free Agency

Cole Paganelli
10 months ago
3 min read
Chris Godwin (14) tries to avoid a tackle from Darren Hall (34) during a game from the 2021-2022 NFL season.

8-9 was not what Browns fans or management expected in 2021 coming off the franchise’s first playoff victory in 26 years. Neither Cleveland nor the Baltimore Ravens could capitalize on promising 2020 campaigns as they sat at home during the postseason and watched two other teams from the AFC North continue on.

The Browns face one of their most important offseasons in recent memory, and one they’ll have to decide is predicated on transitioning or re-tooling. 

Yes, the team needs to upgrade its quarterback play from a year ago. Does that mean they’ll move on from Baker Mayfield (injuries played a major factor in his diminishing returns) before extending his contract? They should certainly kick the tires, but for the purpose of this piece, we’ll assume Baker stays as we explore team needs around him.

Wide Receiver

The divorce with Odell Beckham, Jr. wasn’t shocking, but that didn’t make it an easier pill to swallow watching him celebrate a Lombardi Trophy with the Rams. OBJ left a gaping hole in the Browns’ WR room and Jarvis Landry may soon follow suit.  

Beckham’s now two-time former teammate has a cap hit north of $16 million for 2022, but with no guaranteed money owed to him, cutting Landry would cost Cleveland nothing. At this point, he may have to restructure or face an outright release, leaving Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins (also a free agent) as the team’s leading pass-catchers.

Regardless of who’s under center in 2022, expect the Browns to be very active in the free-agent market, which includes a deep WR group filled with names like Mike Williams, Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, and more.  

With thirteenth pick in the upcoming draft, Cleveland should also have plenty of options if they want to go receiver in the first round, including two familiar names from Ohio State in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson. Treylon Burks from Arkansas could certainly be another choice there too.

Defensive Line

Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney formed one of the best edge tandems in the NFL last year, but for the third year in a row, Clowney enters the offseason as a free agent. The former first overall draft pick has played for four teams over the last four years and will certainly test the market to see one more time if a big-money, multi-year deal is out there.

Clowney may never see as many one-on-ones as he did opposite Garrett, but with only $27 million of cap space (before cuts) can the Browns afford to re-sign Clowney and get a top tier free agent receiver?

Offensive Line

The most recent memory of this unit is one that allowed nine sacks to the Steelers in the regular-season finale. Mayfield got hurt enough on his own, trying to make tackles after throwing interceptions, let alone getting chased and pummeled due to gaping holes in the trenches.

JC Tretter is reliable in the middle of the line but also has a big cap hit with no guaranteed cash left for 2022. The draft is deep at all three positions the Browns could have holes in depending on how free agency shakes out. Receiver should be the top priority but at what cost? Only time will tell.

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