With the NFL draft now over, the Cleveland Browns are back in focus on the roster through free agency, and possibly some potential deals. For Brown, that means Jarvis Landry, Jadvion Clooney, Baker Mayfield and players like Achim Hicks.
Brown and general manager in particular Andrew Berry seem comfortable with Baker Mayfield’s position, ready to play the long game, even if everyone hopes for an immediate solution. Day in and day out, he’s out of sight and out of the team’s mind, despite the fact that it’s something that needs to be done.
Although it appeared that Brown was trying to manufacture a market as everyone knows about the trade talks with the Carolina Panthers, the way he played the draft into a quarterback position with a historically low amount of capital being spent on the position made him unlikely. The transaction will be completed over the weekend.
As with some of the decisions Brown will make, the teams may want to see what they have in the junior camp before returning to the negotiating table over Mayfield.
If the prospect of Landry coming back isn’t dead, she’s at best on life support. Brown made their offer and Landry was not satisfied with it, trying to use it to take advantage of better offers elsewhere. The NFL Draft’s status as teams did not help as only 17 wide receivers were selected in the first three rounds.
Brown, for their part, drafted David Bell in the third round and Mike Woods in the sixth round. They reportedly signed three more after the draft. At this point, Brown has no incentive to increase any offer they have made to Landry.
This is where the calendar becomes a factor. Brown is excited to see what they have in the players they just added. Beginner’s camp runs from May 13-15. Unless there is a serious injury or Brown is horrified by what they see, they realize they need more help, they have no reason to give Landry more money. Likewise, if they’re really excited about what they’re seeing from Bell, they can just pull the show and pull the plug.
Landry’s situation is entirely about money. If not, he would not have been cut in the first place, and instead had his salary cut. Honestly, it seems both sides have been happy to leave this idea alive for longer than it was realistic because it was good for both sides. Lots of fans are emotionally invested in Landry and want him back while the Browns wouldn’t step in and stop teams from hoping for it because it helped reduce interest in the ongoing lawsuits.
Landry spoke to New Orleans Saints and visited a free agent. Terran Mathieu has just signed, someone Landry knows and loves. This might be the most logical place for him to end up, but keep an eye on the crows. They are more interested in adding a real X future, which Landry doesn’t, but could provide some help in the wake of the Marquise Brown trade, not formulating an obvious alternative.
However, Browns may still be interested in adding additional assistance for the future. Anthony Schwartz will probably be in the rookie camp just to keep working, seizing every opportunity to get better. The Browns seem to be higher at Schwartz than everyone else, which is understandable and strange at the same time. He struggled as a rookie, but wasn’t expected to contribute much. Injuries did not help. However, Schwartz is smaller than most receivers picked over the weekend.
So maybe they’re looking at Will Fuller. Perhaps they are looking at a potential deal, to see if the Seattle Seahawks are willing to part with Tyler Lockett. The cuts after the 1st of June may produce an interesting one, too.
The NFL draft did nothing to diminish Brown’s interest in Jadevin Clooney. If anything, it may indicate their level of confidence that he will re-sign. Brown may be excited about Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas, but they don’t have a defensive start on the roster outside of Myles Garrett at this point. Chase Winovich could be a great player on this team, but Brown shouldn’t be taken lightly as a contender if they simply roll with what they have.
With Clowney, money may be a factor, but that’s also about the calendar. The difference here is that Clowney is not interested in attending anything mandatory until training camp. The Browns’ veteran mini camp doesn’t happen until June 14-16 before the team goes on summer vacation. That next month is when the Clowney deal is completed, whether with the Browns or another team.
Brown has been linked to Jerry Hughes. Two Ingram Files may be an option. Brown could be looking at Olivier Vernon continuing to work his way back from the Achilles injury he sustained at the end of the 2020 season. Clowney is the preferred option and the Browns may be quietly confident of sealing the deal.
As expected, Browns didn’t draft a nosedive in this draft class because it was a poor class for the job. They’ve added Perion Winfrey, who can be a great passing player. The Browns are said to have signed a pair of undeveloped options in Glen Logan and Roderick Perry II, which they’ll take a look at during rookie camp.
Like the defensive end, the Browns just don’t have enough defensive inside at the moment, especially when it comes to two-gap stoppers that can stop runs in early touchdowns. This will allow the combination of Taven Bryan and Winfrey to focus on using their sport to attack the quarterback.
Akiem Hicks is the best option still available in the free proxy market. Injuries have weakened him two of the past three years, but he’s still effective in this role with the potential to dominate. It’s also likely to come at a hefty price tag, around $8 million for one year. Brown may prefer not to pay too much for the position, but they may make an exception given the situation of that group. They want to get to a point where they can have players to play that role in cheaper junior deals or veteran deals, allowing them to put more money into positions they deem most important.
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They weren’t there yet.
There is more evidence that they should sign two free agent options than there is reason to believe that a combination of Jordan Elliott and Tommy Togiai would be ready to take on these roles.
Eddie Goldman and Zach Kerr are among the other options out there that should also be cheaper, but are not likely to be as effective. Perhaps there will be a cut after June 1 that brown can target as well.
But as with Clowney, rubber may not meet the road until June with any of these guys. Hicks probably doesn’t care about anything mandatory until training camp, because the wear and tear on his body is simply not worth it. The Browns will likely want to take a look at Logan and Perry in rookie camp before moving on with other veteran options, even if it only delays the inevitable. They might even get a deal with one of these guys to have a look at them for their little veteran campground before summer vacation.
If Browns are able to find themselves with Garrett, Clooney and Hicks in the starting lineup in September, it will give Browns a talented front streak and boost the depth potential they have amassed. If Hicks can have a productive season, Brian and Winfrey may be able to put them in the best possible position to make an impact.
The fact that the NFL draft is over and there are deals being made may make it seem like the Browns should move at a faster pace, but Brown is largely working at the players’ pace.