CBS Sports came out with their Top 50 NFL Free Agents yesterday. This followed up SI looking at free agents ranked 51 – 100 and best fits for them, which none were linked to the Cleveland Browns. In this list of the top 50 from CBS, SI’s list should come out sometime today, the Browns had 2 players listed in the top 15, Alex Mack at #9 and TJ Ward at #13.
For the Browns retaining both of these players is important from a talent perspective as well as keeping continuity. This list also helps look at some possible targets for the Browns, who come into the off-season with around $55 million in cap space this up coming year. While the team may not end up being the big spenders some are hoping for, retaining Mack and Ward, extending Joe Haden and adding 1 or 2 starters through free agency would be a huge step in the right direction.
Lets take a look at some positions of needs and players available in this list of Top 50 free agents:
Quarterback - 1 – Mike Vick
FoS Note: Maybe an option before Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi were taken out of the picture, not as much now.
Running Back - 2 + 1 – Knowshon Moreno, Maurice Jones-Drew, Donald Brown (51)
FoS Note: Moreno may be looking for bigger money, MJD is older but we noted Brown here as it would be ironic for him to come in and be the long term starter replace Trent Richardson who went to Indy and struggled. Brown played more then Richardson at the end of the last year due to performance.
Guard - 0
FoS Note: Not a big surprise as Guards aren’t valued as highly as other positions. There is some depth in the market.
Right Tackle - 2 – Eugene Monroe, Jared Veldheer
FoS Note: Both Monroe and Veldheer can play left tackle and may look for a chance but would be drawn by money. The Browns now employ the Ravens old line coach could that make Monroe or Michael Oher options for the team?
Cornerback - 8 – Alterraun Verner, Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes, Aqib Talib, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Charles Tillman, Sam Shields, Captain Munnerlyn
FoS Note: A deep group that could provide a second corner opposite Joe Haden. The Browns may get to pick and choose from this group as long term deals for corners not resigning with their own teams seem a thing of the past.
Safety - 3 – Jairus Byrd, TJ Ward, Donte Witner
FoS Note: Some Browns fan dream of a pairing of Ward and Byrd but that is unlikely due to cap limitations in the future. Witner is an option to come home if Ward bolts.
Inside Linebackers - 2 – Donald Butler, Karlos Dansby
FoS Note: Butler will cost a good chunk of change but may be worth it with no starting ILBs on the Browns current roster, unless you count Craig Robertson but most don’t. Dansby is older but could provide some veteran leadership.
Overall the free agent market, and the draft, have a great deal of depth at the areas of need for the Browns. Any players on this Top 50 list stand out to you as have to haves for the Browns?