The Cleveland Browns have been the story of the NFL for the past week. They started off by adding Jarvis Landry, Tyrod Taylor, and Damarious Randall via trade almost a week ago. They then started free agency by signing Carlos Hyde, T.J. Carrie, Chris Hubbard, Chris Smith, Darren Fells, Terrance Mitchell, and Donald Stephenson.
But after an 0-16 season, the Browns still have holes across the entire roster. What they are doing this offseason is adding solid depth players to fill the roster. Lacking those types of players was one reason Cleveland has been 1-31 the last two seasons. After the initial frenzy of free agency, there are still quality free agents for the Browns to target. Let’s take a look at some free agents that Cleveland should consider signing.
Defensive Back Tyrann Mathieu
Mathieu was cut on Wednesday after the Cardinals attempted to restructure his contract. Mathieu can play deep safety, slot corner, or as a hybrid linebacker. Cleveland has needed to rebuild their secondary, and adding a playmaker like Mathieu would make the defense much better at creating turnovers. He would be a tough fit though, as Randall will be playing free safety and strong safety Jabrill Peppers will be playing in the box. For the price tag that Mathieu will have, he may be hard to slot him in the roster with who the Browns have in his positions. But if the Browns were to use him as a slot cornerback, they may be willing to spend the money on him.
Offensive Tackle Cameron Fleming
Following the retirement of Joe Thomas, the Browns are in need of a left tackle. Recent addition Chris Hubbard has said that he will be playing at right tackle in Cleveland. Browns general manager John Dorsey said that Shon Coleman, Spencer Drango and Donald Stephenson are in consideration for the left tackle job. But all three players struggled last year or did not receive much playing time.
Although Fleming was a backup for the Patriots last season, he played well when he was forced into action. He played solely at right tackle for the Patriots, but he was used as a swing tackle for New England. Pro Football Focus gave Fleming a grade of 78.3 which ranked him as the 24th best tackle in 2017. He should come relatively cheap. If Cleveland feels the need to sign another tackle instead of drafting one, Fleming could be a solid option.
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Wide Receiver Terrelle Pryor
Pryor had a down year in 2017 with Washington, but could be revitalized playing under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley. In Jackson’s offense in 2016, Pryor caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. After wanting a contract that Cleveland was not willing to offer, Pryor left Cleveland even though he did not want to.
Even after trading for Jarvis Landry and the return of Josh Gordon, Pryor would still fit with the Browns. Corey Coleman has not played up to his potential and could be on the trade block. Pryor would play opposite of Gordon with Landry in the slot. With the always uncertain status of Gordon, Pryor would be a good signing to build depth. He should come on a much cheaper contract than he was asking for last season. He would be a good value pick-up for Cleveland.
Cornerback E.J. Gaines
Gaines has had a solid three-year career, and had a very good season in 2017. He made 59 tackles, one interception, and defended nine passes. The 26-year-old is a good cover corner that gave up a 75.2 passer rating when targeted. Cleveland needs help in the secondary, mainly at the corner position. The Browns signed T.J. Carrie to be one starter and recently traded Jason McCourty. Jamar Taylor was the other starter last season, but plays better in the slot. Adding Gaines would give the Browns two young veteran corners that would be upgrades from last season. Cleveland may target a corner in the draft and decide not to sign another corner, but Gaines would be a solid fit in Cleveland.
Defensive Back Morgan Burnett
Burnett fits under the same category as Mathieu. More of a hybrid defensive back, Burnett can play multiple positions across the defense. At 29-years-old, he is nearing the back-end of his career. But he would be a solid veteran presence to a young Browns defense. Gregg Williams would have some fun with Burnett because of his versatility. He does a great job of breaking up passes and is a solid tackler. He would cost less than Mathieu for doing nearly the same job while adding more leadership. John Dorsey may be more comfortable offering a contract to Burnett than Mathieu.