With the news announced earlier of the agreed deal between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins that will see Alex Smith become the well-paid quarterback of the ‘Skins, I guess we’re ok to start with our own ideas of what we’d like to see our favourite teams do, deal-wise — a.k.a “Silly Season”, right?
I’d like to start my silly season of mocks (I love to play at armchair GM) with a look at the unrestricted free agents I think the Cleveland Browns could do with having a look at and a go at getting to sign for them.
There are still many positions that need adding to with either a starter(s) or better quality depth. The positions I see them needing to add to via free agency and/or the draft are: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver and Tackle on the offensive side of the ball and Defensive End, Linebacker, Cornerback and Safety on the defensive side. Holy crap, that’s pretty much the entire team. Like I say, some of those positions just need better depth.
So, on to the players I’d be at least having a look at as a member of the Browns front office.
Kirk Cousins – This is the obvious choice as he’s most probably the biggest name in free agency this year now that Alex Smith is going to Washington. By that, I mean that Cousins obviously isn’t staying in Washington under the franchise tag this time.
I’d love to see him signed to be the Browns’ QB for the next 5-years so that they can go about adding the rest of the pieces to the roster before they drop another young QB from the draft in at that position. This, in theory, would mean the guys around the new boy at QB (the rookie) will all have matured together during previous seasons and should be ready to be a challenger when it all comes together. Basically, I’m one of those people that thinks all the other pieces of the puzzle should be in place before plugging in the final piece which, for me, is the young franchise QB to lead you forward. In the meantime, Kirk Cousins gives you a chance to improve a lot and help the rest of the team taste victory, unlike the QB’s they currently have on the roster.
Speaking of the other QBs on the roster, who knows, perhaps having Cousins in there as the starter for the foreseeable future would give DeShone Kizer time to mature into ‘the guy’ we all hoped he would be. He’s only 22-years-old so could get his chance by the time he’s ready at 25+. Another reason for doing this is because many people are regarding Josh Allen as a likely first overall pick in this year’s draft but, at the same time, many believe him to be the same player as Kizer — big arm but has accuracy issues. Let’s get Cousins in and use the picks elsewhere.
Other possibilities at the quarterback position would be Case Keenum, Drew Brees and A.J. McCarron (who’s a restricted free agent).
I seriously doubt Drew Brees is going anywhere other than New Orleans but the other two are possibilities. I’m intrigued to see what the Vikings do with their three guys as they’ve all shown they are good but have been hit by unfortunate injuries to two of them. Sam Bradford is a free agent as well but with his history of injuries, I wouldn’t bother. Case Keenum deserves to get paid by someone but the big question for me is whether or not he can achieve again what he has in 2017, especially if he were to go somewhere else.
If the Browns don’t end up with Kirk Cousins, I seriously think our starting QB in 2018 will be A.J. McCarron. He, unlike most other players, has stated that he’d like to come to Cleveland and be the starter. We all know that someone at the franchise likes McCarron a lot as they were willing to give up a ridiculous amount for him (a 2nd and 3rd round pick in this years draft was reported). I get the impression it was Hue Jackson rather than Sashi Brown and it’s Hue that won the battle between the front office and coaches and still has his job….somehow.
Isaiah Crowell is a free agent and shouldn’t be brought back to the Browns. I could only see a couple of running backs available in free agency that I’d like to see in Cleveland and, to be honest, I doubt either will be brought in.
Le’Veon Bell – I did say that I doubt either will come to Cleveland, right? I doubt he’ll leave Pittsburgh but he is due to be a free agent and has been prone to grumbling quite a bit in the past whilst in Pittsburgh. He would appear to want paying and paying big by whoever he plays for in the future. I don’t like his prima donna attitude but there’s no denying his ability on the field. I know the reports were of Todd Haley and Big Ben not getting along and is probably a big reason why Haley is now in Cleveland, but I’ve not heard of any bad-blood between Haley and Bell. Is that a possible link that could bring one of the best running backs in the league to Cleveland? Maybe not, but I imagine it’ll be the amount of money he’s trying to get himself that will put most suitors off, especially seeing the talent available in the draft this year at his position.
Dion Lewis – This guy goes about his business brilliantly and is a player I don’t see talking smack on or off the field or trying to push his own brand all the time. He’s the kind of guy I like. He’s already been on the Browns roster back in 2013 but missed the season due to a fractured fibula before being cut at season’s end.
He had over 1,000 dual-purpose yards in the 2017 regular-season on a Patriots offence that likes to spread the ball around. The only downside to Lewis, and the reason he won’t be in Cleveland in 2018, is that he’s too similar to Duke Johnson. I think the Browns will be looking for more of a “downhill runner” who will take on the majority of the work instead of a more elusive, pass-catching player like Duke and Dion.
I’m happy that a good player can be picked up in this year’s draft in the 2nd-4th round (maybe even lower), and if last year’s crop is anything to go by, there’s nothing to worry about at RB in free agency. We also have Matt Dayes who looked great during the 2017 pre-season and who I’d like to see a lot more of in 2018.
Oh boy, do the Cleveland Browns need help at wide receiver! Luckily, this year’s free agency market could be rich with talent as some young players reach the end of their contracts.
Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee – We could start with the two from the Jacksonville Jaguars who will be UFA’s at the end of the season. I can’t imagine they’ll let both of them go even though they have Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole who are all talented. Lee is projected to be paid around $7.5 million a year and Robinson around $13.6 million, so who knows what’s going to happen in Jacksonville with all that money they’ve spent on their defensive line and Bortles due to make $19 million if they pick up the 5th year option on him. If either of these guys become officially available, I’d be having a serious look at bringing them in.
Sammy Watkins – A 4th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Watkins set a Bills rookie record for most catches and yards in his first year in the league. Although he’s had injury issues in the past and didn’t produce as much as I thought he would in that high-scoring LA Rams offence as well as an apparent tantrum during his time in Buffalo, I still think he’s worth a try at the right price. I’m not sure he’s the right person mentally for the Browns, though, as I get the impression he might think he’s bigger and better than the franchise. Hmm, yeah, the price would have to be ‘cheap’ but there are other teams out there that could also use him.
Jarvis Landry – Landry is another player who is looking to get paid big right now and has made it public that he wants a good long-term deal doing in Miami or he’s happy to test the free agency market. Looks like a great slot receiver to me and led the league in 2017 with 112 receptions for 987-yards and 9-TD’s. He went for 466-yards-after-the-catch, which is another stat that puts him in the top 15 receiver bracket. Basically, he’s better than anything the Browns currently have at WR and could be the big name they need at that position.
Landry has stated recently that he’d like to stay in Miami and get that long-term deal done so it’ll be interesting to see if he hits the market even.
Terrelle Pryor – Yes, you read it right, I’d have Terrelle Pryor back even after the way he left after the 2016 season. I think it was more a case of his agent trying to get as much money as he could and Sashi Brown saying “This is what he’s worth and that is what we’re willing to give”. I get the impression neither party was willing to budge and so Pryor wound up in Washington with a reported worse deal than the one Cleveland offered him.
Whilst he was in Cleveland as a wide receiver, Pryor was excellent. Such a freakish athlete who looks like he’s not even putting in much effort but still manages to go past defenders with ease.
His contract with Washington last year was a $6 million cap hit, and after a far less than impressive season which saw him end up on the injured reserve list due to him opting to have surgery on an ankle injury, I doubt he’ll be able to command more than that again this year.
Get him added to the receivers unit and see if he can perform for the Browns as he did in 2016.
Nate Solder – Yeah I know, another top player at his position who is set to become a free agent. Remember, this is just my wishlist. His market value, according to Spotrac, is about $13 million a year and has been with the Patriots his entire pro career. The question here, for me, is yet again whether he’ll even hit the market. If Joe Thomas retires, which I think he will, it’d be great to get someone like Solder to step in but, let’s be honest, he’d have lots of teams after him and Cleveland wouldn’t be his first choice, I’m sure.
Greg Robinson – Since his selection at #2 overall in the 2014 draft by the Rams, Greg Robinson has consistently shown that he isn’t that good of an NFL LT. Even at the Detroit Lions in 2017 after they picked him up for next-to-nothing, he wasn’t brilliant. Having said that, he’s still only 25-years-old and has had a lot of playing time. If he could be picked up cheaply, I’d be tempted to add him to the roster for depth.
Tahir Whitehead – He’s played at both inside and outside linebacker for the Detroit Lions and, according to PFF, he’s had his better years when playing the outside position. With Christian Kirksey and Jamie Collins slated to be the starters on the outside, the question is whether he’s right for the Browns as he’s a starting calibre player and will be demanding a wage as such.
Paul Posluszny – I think this guy is a great player and although he’s now 33-years-old, he’s still a very good player. His overall rating by the guys at PFF of 84.0 is a testament to his ability to still be a player to take notice of. He’s another player that is listed as an outside linebacker but I’ve always seen him as a good middle linebacker. Either way, he’s played at all linebacker positions and played them well. At 33 and still playing at a high level, I think he’d be a great addition to the team to share the MLB role with the excellent young Joe Schobert. I think Schobert would benefit from having him around as well and it would help his career and skill progression.
This is another position where there is potentially a good number of quality young players to choose from. The ones I like the looks of are Trumaine Johnson, Malcolm Butler, Kyle Fuller and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
With both Johnson and Robey-Coleman being LA Rams players, I doubt they’ll let both walk. I’d guess that Johnson will be the one to be allowed out the door and he’ll be highly sought amongst teams needing help at the CB position.
As for Malcolm Butler, I’m not sold on him but most other people seem to be and after all, what the hell do I know (“not a lot”, I hear you say). He’s another one that will get a lot of attention and should get paid in the region of $13 million per year. If only real life was like playing Madden and you could manipulate the system to get the perfect team everytime.
Kyle Fuller is another of the talented Fuller family who plays in the NFL (it was one of his brothers, Kendall Fuller who was involved in the Alex Smith to Washington trade) and one who I’d like to see play at CB for the Browns. He’s only 25-years-old and was a first-round pick in the 2014 draft. He’s got gradually better each season playing for the Chicago Bears and, to be honest, is another player I doubt will be let go by his current team.
In my mind, the Cleveland Browns are in desperate need of a free safety. I say this because in 2017 it was left to rookie Jabrill Peppers to fill that role and it was obvious that that’s not what he is. He was left to play 20-25 yards deep, meaning he was away from the action most of the time. He’s more of a strong safety type and he advertised that fact during the combine by doing both the defensive backs and linebacker drills. Surely that’s saying he sees himself as more of a strong safety or hybrid LB/safety? For me, he showed he’s better playing closer to the line towards the end of the season when he was allowed to do so and made more of an impression on the game. They have Derrick Kindred at SS and he played well but I still want to see Peppers in that role and a more natural FS brought in.
Because of that, I’d be off to LA again in an attempt to get the free agent I think would be great for us. This time I’d be looking at LA Chargers’ FS Tre Boston. He’s another 25-year-old who would be looking to sign a deal of around 5-years (probably) and Spotrac have his market value at about $8 million per year, which is a massive jump from the $900,000 he cost the Chargers in 2017 on his 1-year contract. Again, I’d only sign if the price was right as my priority want from the draft is DB Minkah Fitzpatrick who is listed as both a CB and safety, with his write-ups leading me to believe he’s an FS rather than SS if he were to play there. If I could only choose between Boston or Fitzpatrick, I’d definitely go with Fitzpatrick at either first overall or #4 in this draft.
Like I say, this is just me playing at armchair GM and I don’t honestly believe a lot of these players will even be available to the Browns as current and other teams come in and bid for them. As is the norm, one signing will create the domino effect for further signings as players get added to and erased from shortlists as the process goes on.
Basically, it’s just a bit of fun.
The ones that I realistically think the Browns could get would be Paul Posluszny, A.J. McCarron, one of the Jacksonville WR’s and Greg Robinson (if they’d even want him).
Who would you like to see your team target in free agency this year and who do you think they stand a chance of getting?