It’s been another wild week with the Cleveland Browns as they landed another top free agent wile saying goodbye to one of the defensive leaders. We’re also within two weeks of the NFL Draft and while it’s not as anticipated like recent years, the buzz is starting to build as to how Andrew Berry and company are planning to attack it.
The Addition of Jadeveon Clowney
After over a year of courting the edge rusher, Cleveland finally landed the former first overall pick on a one-year deal on Wednesday worth $8 million but can get it to $10 million in incentives.
Cleveland brought him in a few weeks ago for a visit and brought him in again this week in order to get a physical done to see how the knee looked which has bothered Clowney throughout his NFL career.
People can say he’s not an impact player because he doesn’t get the high number of sacks but sacks don’t tell the whole story when it comes to Clowney’s game. He is an impact player and will be disruptive on the Browns defensive front. According to PFF from 2016-2019, Clowney averaged 55 pressures and 10 quarterbacks hits per season while also averaging 6.5 sacks per season. To say he isn’t an impact player is just lazy analysis.
The injuries are a concern but he had the microfracture surgery his rookie season and the meniscus injury last season but has been pretty durable the rest of his NFL career.
Pairing Clowney up with another former first overall selection in Myles Garrett will cause a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. Not only can Clowney beat you as a pass rusher but he’s been a pretty good run defender as well throughout his career. Along with the additions of Takk McKinley, Malik Jackson, and the returning Andrew Billings, the Browns have the makings of a potentially dominating defensive front in 2021.
The Release of Sheldon Richardson
It was a surprising move when the Cleveland Browns released Sheldon Richardson on Friday because the defensive tackle room does have some question marks heading into 2021 but when you look at the entire picture, releasing him may pay off in the long run.
Richardson’s cap number was $13.2 million according to OverTheCap which would’ve been the seventh-highest among interior defensive lineman in the NFL for the 2021 season. Richardson has been a solid player but I wouldn’t necessarily rank him among the elite at his position.
With the Browns adding some pieces on the defensive front such as Clowney, McKinley, Billings, and Jackson and them each commanding some guaranteed money, the Browns had to make a sacrifice to the roster and unfortunately Richardson was that guy and had been rumored throughout the offseason as a potential subtraction to the team.
Will the loss of Richardson potentially hurt? Yes, it definitely could hurt them in the short term but the Browns are thinking about the bigger picture.
They cleared $11 million in salary cap space and some will say it wasn’t needed but looking down the road, this $20 million they currently hold in cap space could be used as rollover into next year where new deals for Nick Chubb and Wyatt Teller could be coming along with extending other core players such as Denzel Ward and Baker Mayfield.
The Browns still have a talented roster and will be Super Bowl contenders in 2021 and Sheldon Richardson’s release won’t change that. What has changed is more flexibility has been created for Paul DePodesta, Andrew Berry, and company to utilize to extend the window into the future.
The ongoing Odell Beckham trade rumors
It’s the topic that doesn’t seem to be going away.
The talking point has been floated around once again about the Browns potentially moving Odell Beckham Jr. both locally and nationally in the sports media.
It started last weekend when Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot said on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland that while she doesn’t think there’s a trade partner out there for the Browns that she wouldn’t say it’s a lock that the Browns keep him heading into the 2021 season.
The discussion continued on Monday on ESPN’s Get Up when NFL reporter Dianna Russini said the Browns will listen to trade offers for the All-Pro receiver despite the perception out there is his value is likely at it’s lowest coming off his ACL injury he suffered last season.
The reality is that teams will listen to any trade offer for any player when an opposing team makes a call so I’m sure Russini’s reporting is accurate in saying that the Browns will listen for any proposed trade for Beckham. However, I don’t think the Browns are looking to trade Beckham and they definitely aren’t going to give him away without getting what they think is equal value or if they’re blown away by an offer.
I fully expect Beckham to be with the Browns for at least the start of the 2021 season because the pressure will once again be on both Beckham along with Baker Mayfield to get that duo clicking effectively on the offense because of the way both Mayfield and the Browns took off towards the postseason while Beckham was sidelined last year.