All is quiet on the NFL front as of now but we currently sit seven weeks away from the start of training camp and what will likely be the first on-field action for the NFL since the Super Bowl in early February.
The Cleveland Browns have been active this offseason adding more talent to their roster with the additions of free agents such as Jack Conklin and Austin Hooper as well as the draft such as Jedrick Wills and Grant Delpit.
Through all that, the Browns still have the most cap space available in the NFL with $37.2 million and some depth can still be added to the roster despite the limitations currently in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are five free agents that the Browns should consider bringing in that could help the team in 2020:
Nigel Bradham, Linebacker
The biggest hole on the Browns roster currently would have to be the linebacker position. After Joe Schobert left for Jacksonville in free agency and the team released Christian Kirksey due to his high salary and nagging injuries, the team is currently depending on second-year players Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki to take a leap entering the 2020 season.
The team added BJ Goodson in free agency but there isn’t that impact guy in the middle of what appears to be a defense that can make some noise this upcoming season.
Bradham, who was released by Philadelphia back in February in order to create cap space is the best linebacker available right now and even at age 30, could come in and make an immediate impact.
Prior to last season, Bradham recorded at least 85 tackles (60 solo), four passes defended and a sack in each season from 2016-2018. Even last season despite missing four games due to injury, he had 61 tackles (32 solo), five passes defended, an interception and a 48-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Bradham could be the veteran presence to help guide Wilson and Takitaki and also be one of the leaders on defense that could help the young core of Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and others take the next step towards playoff contention.
Jabaal Sheard, EDGE
Everyone has been hung up on Jadeveon Clowney for the last several months and while Clowney is a very good football player and would help the Browns defense, there’s a sense that he doesn’t want to be in Cleveland.
The Browns need more help on the edge despite having Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon as well as the addition of Adrian Clayborn. They could give Porter Gustin an opportunity here but if the Browns want to reach the playoffs, why not add another solid veteran option in Jabaal Sheard.
Sheard is no stranger to Cleveland as the team drafted him back in 2011 with the 37th overall selection. In four seasons with the Browns, Sheard recorded 23 sacks and 34 quarterback hits. Since then he’s been with the Patriots and Colts collecting 28.5 sacks, 58 quarterback hits, and was a member of the 2016 Patriots Super Bowl winning roster.
A rotation of Garrett, Vernon, Clayborn, and Sheard would be quite the foursome on the edge that could lead to some interesting packages given that Garrett could kick inside and allow three out of the four to be on the field at any given time.
Taylor Gabriel, Wide Receiver
Now given that the Browns wide receiver room situation is already looking tricky and the fact Kevin Stefanski didn’t run many three wide receiver sets in Minnesota that this signing seems impossible but given the player’s background in the system, it could be something to put in the back of your minds just in case.
Gabriel has looked his best during his six-year career in the Kyle Shanahan offense that Kevin Stefanski ran in Minnesota and will likely bring elements of it to Cleveland.
His rookie season in 2014 saw Gabriel catch 36 passes for 621 yards and a touchdown as an undrafted free agent. Reunited with Shanahan in 2016, Gabriel had 35 catches for 579 yards and six touchdowns helping Atlanta reach the Super Bowl where he had three catches for 76 yards. It also helped Gabriel land a four-year, $26 million contract with the Bears in 2018.
Gabriel was cut by Chicago in February and it’s unclear if he’ll find a new home but Cleveland along with San Francisco seem like his best options currently although both wide receiver rooms are crowded as of now. If an injury were to happen with either team, he should be the first name on the list to call.
Tavon Wilson or Clayton Geathers, Safety
Despite the Browns adding Grant Delpit, Karl Joseph, and Andrew Sendejo to the safety room this offseason, there is still room to add some depth although there’s potential with Sheldrick Redwine and JT Hassell.
The Browns will likely not look at Eric Reid or Reshad Jones who are the top safeties currently on the market but they could be an option for guys like Tavon Wilson or Clayton Geathers.
Wilson had a productive season with the Detroit Lions in 2019 with 98 tackles and five passes defended in 13 starts while Geathers had 54 tackles, one pass breakup and an interception in 10 starts for the Indianapolis Colts.
Either one would provide depth and could create even more competition in what should be a fun group to watch during training camp and preseason with the Browns likely to utilize more nickel and dime packages in defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ scheme.
Logan Ryan, Cornerback
This one may be the boldest of the considerations but the fact that Ryan, who is the best cornerback on the market is still out there on the market in early June sure is curious.
Ryan is coming off a strong 2019 campaign with the Tennessee Titans in which he had 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four interceptions and also picked off Tom Brady’s final pass as a New England Patriots in the Wild Card round and took it back for a touchdown.
It was reported back in March that Ryan was unwilling to take “less than $10 million per year” but is willing to take a short-term offer. The Jets have been the only team linked to Ryan recently but they aren’t willing to meet his asking price.
This is a perfect opportunity for the Browns to solidify the cornerback room which already has Denzel Ward, Greedy Williams, Terrance Mitchell, and Kevin Johnson.
Offer Ryan a one-year deal worth around $10-11 million that won’t hurt them financially long-term and it could make for some interesting sub-packages where the Browns could theoretically slide Ward, Ryan, or Williams inside to play nickel with Johnson staying primarily on the outside.
Jack Duffin helped contribute to this article