The offseason is now here, much later than usual which has been a welcome change of pace for the Browns. This is set to be the most intriguing Browns offseason for a long time as they look to build on an impressive 2020 season. Rather than just one main position room focus of the offseason like getting a quarterback or fixing the offensive line, there are many different directions the team can go in 2021. But with every offseason, it is important to balance next season’s aims with the next several years.
For every position room, I will outline how the NFL structures that position on the roster. Also how the Browns might vary from the standard based on what we have seen in 2020. The players we have in four categories: starter, rotation (play some snaps), depth (injury backup/special teams), and other (likely cut). Then I will lay out the options currently on the roster, available in FA as well as via the draft for all 53 spots.
I will address all the Browns Unrestricted FAs (UFA), Restricted FAs (RFA), and Exclusive Rights FAs (ERFA) as I look at each position room.
It is important to balance where the Browns Front Office is coming from when looking at moves. Seth Wickersham gave us a brilliant insight into their ideas when he leaked the Browns Guardrails.
These articles will be released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, position by position.
The average NFL team has 2.5 QBs on their roster. I have always been a fan of a three QB strategy. Due to Berry’s time with the Eagles, he has likely picked up the benefits as we know Howie Roseman is a fan. Have your one starter, one experienced backup, and then a young prospect. Obviously, if you have no young talent, then don’t waste the 3rd roster spot for the sake of it.
Starting QB: Baker Mayfield
Roster – Baker Mayfield has proved in 2020 that he has the potential to be an annual top 10 quarterback in the NFL. After a slow start in the first six weeks where he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL and left many fans wondering if they would return to the draft for a quarterback in 2021, he has become PFF’s 3rd best passer in the weeks that followed behind only Rodgers & Watson. The Browns will pick up Mayfield’s fifth-year option this offseason keeping him on the roster for at least two more years. They then have a decision to make regarding an early extension. Do they get a deal done, potentially saving $2-4m a year rather than waiting another year, or do they wait until next season either during the bye or at the end of the season to extend him? The dangers of extending early are clear to see with regards to Wentz, who hasn’t yet played a snap on his new deal and could already be traded away. I’m split on waiting for next season and make the move once we have a bigger sample to work off of. This was something I investigated during the last offseason. If he is extended this offseason, here is what the deal could look like.
Depth QB: Case Keenum
Roster – The way Keenum’s deal is structured effectively made it a one-year deal of $5.5m in year one then followed by a $6m option in year two and a $6.5m option in year three. The issue is the Browns need to make a decision by the 21st March this year as he is due $2m of the $6m for 2021. This means they won’t have the chance to grab a replacement instead in free agency or the draft as a backup before the extra guarantees kick in. This likely means Keenum has one more year with the Browns before they go a different direction in 2022.
Depth QB: ?
Draft – The Browns could copy the Eagles playbook and pick up a prospect on day two or three of the draft to backup Baker. Having a backup on a rookie deal costing $1.5m a year rather than a veteran on $6m means you can spend that extra cap saving on a veteran in another position that will actually start for your team. This might be a move they make in the 2021 draft but most likely they wait until 2022. A day three prospect or UDFA they fall in love with could make this spot after camp but expect them to stash their third QB on the practice squad and use this roster spot to carry another offensive player like a sixth WR.
Other: Kyle Lauletta
Check back Wednesday for the Running Back/Fullback deep dive.
Any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JackDuffin. The DMs are open for any salary cap/roster construction questions you have.