Five Biggest Free Agency Moves: Cleveland Browns
With free agency now into its fourth week as April’s Draft draws closer, it’s time to start reviewing which teams filled some needs and who got weaker. Here are the five biggest free agency moves for each team so far.
It’s year two of Hue Jackson and Sashi Brown’s regime, and they need to show some progress after a 1–15 season. Their “Moneyball” strategy of accumulating picks has given them plenty of Draft resources, and the Browns also entered the off-season with over $100 million in cap space. Could things finally change in Cleveland this season? Here are the Browns’ five biggest free agency moves:
1 — Trading for Brock Osweiler
Houston’s $72 million quarterback lasted just one disappointing year before the Texans pulled the plug. With a surplus of cap space, the Browns sent a 4th round pick to Houston in exchange for Osweiler, a 2018 2nd rounder and a 6th round pick this year. Osweiler’s bloated cap hit will hardly make a dent in Cleveland’s reserves. Despite immediately shopping Osweiler, it’s now more likely that the Browns release or keep him once Jackson has evaluated the potential fit in his system. We could yet see Osweiler suiting up as Cleveland’s 27th starting quarterback since 1999.
2 — Signing Kevin Zeitler and J.C. Tretter
The Browns prioritised the rebuilding of their offensive line this off-season. Kevin Zeitler joins his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson after the Browns made him the richest guard in NFL history with a five year, $60 million deal. A long-term backup in Green Bay, J.C. Tretter can capably play any position along the offensive line, but will likely be Cleveland’s starting center after signing a three year, $16.75 million deal. Tretter’s versatility will allow the Browns to experiment to find the best possible line-up. Cleveland is shaping up to field one of the best offensive lines in the AFC.
3 — Extending Jamie Collins
The Browns traded a conditional 3rd round pick to the Patriots for Jamie Collins last season after the linebacker went on the trade block. Collins is a former first round pick who made the Pro Bowl in 2015. After joining the Browns, Collins had 69 tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble in eight starts, along with a sack, three pass breakups, two interceptions and another forced fumble in his final seven games in New England. Collins is an every down player that the Browns can build their defense around, and signed a four year, $50 million extension with $26 million guaranteed.
4 — Extending Joel Bitonio
Young guard Joel Bitonio could be Cleveland’s best draft pick in recent memory. Bitonio is a force in both the running and the passing game and is only 25. As he enters what would’ve been the final year of his rookie deal, the Browns gave him a five year, $51 million extension, ensuring that their impressive guard pairing of Bitonio and Zeitler anchors the offensive line through 2021.
5 — Signing Kenny Britt
Despite the Browns reportedly offering star wideout Terrelle Pryor a long-term deal, Pryor opted to sign a one year contract with Washington. To help replace Pryor, the Browns signed former Rams receiver Kenny Britt to a four year, $32.5 million contract. Britt had 68 catches for 1002 yards and five touchdowns last season as the Rams’ leading receiver. While he isn’t the playmaker that Pryor is, Britt gives the Browns a dependable possession target across the middle. If potential number one receiver Josh Gordon is reinstated and bounces back from his issues alongside sophomore Corey Coleman returning from injury, Britt adds to a sneakily good receiving corps in Cleveland.