’s Top 25 2014 Free Agents: Cleveland Browns Targets?


Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) carries the ball during the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports has come out with there top 25 free agents for the 2014 NFL Off-Season. While this list is subject to change with franchise tags, re-signings and possibly even releases it gives us a fun break from NFL Draft preparation, which comes after free agency anyways, and lets us look at some in the league talent. Which, if any of the list could the Browns be interested in? Lets take a look at a few of those listed.

"1. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints tight end"

Browns Target? Graham is most likely going to be franchised tagged by the Saints but if he isn’t the Browns, and every other team in the league would target Graham. The Browns would have to be realistic about the ability to attract Graham though. Going from Drew Brees to Brian Hoyer, or a rookie, isn’t appealing. Graham played college ball in Miami and has since been in New Orleans, have you looked around Ohio this winter? A target, yes, a possibility, no.

"4. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety5. T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns safety"

Browns Target? These two fit cleanly together here. The Browns could tag Ward to keep him from leaving but should look to get Ward signed to a long term contract. Byrd will be of interest to the Browns either way. He played for new HC Mike Pettine in Buffalo and knows his system. His injury history, or character issues that Pettine would know, could turn the team off but pairing Byrd and Ward would be spectacular. Byrd coming in if Ward leaves is also an option. The Browns may not want to spend so much money on safeties, especially with Joe Haden needing an extension soon but don’t be surprised if at least 1 of these is on the Browns roster next year.

"6. Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans cornerback10. Brent Grimes, Miami Dolphins cornerback"

Browns Target? The Browns have a need on the other side of the ball from Haden and Verner could compliment that well. Joe Banner has a history of signing big free agent corners, think Asante Samuel, but failed to bring in any real competition for the #2 spot last year. Will Pettine change his mind or will the Browns continue to rely on Haden and Buster Skrine? Grimes was a target last year but he chose a 1 year deal in Miami instead of a 2 year deal in Cleveland. Looks like that gamble paid off. Would he have interest in Cleveland this year? Does Banner hold a grudge?

"18. Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns center"

Browns Target? For many in the Cleveland media Mack’s departure is a forgone conclusion. Rumors of a big contract from Tampa Bay have surfaced recently. Mack makes a lot of sense for the Browns given the zone blocking scheme most likely coming to Cleveland under Kyle Shanahan. Could John Greco take over for Mack at center? It is possible but with all the cap space can the Browns hold on to both of their big free agents?

"19. Eric Decker, Denver Broncos wide receiver"

Browns Target? Somewhat surprising to find Decker this low. Someone is going to overpay him this off-season. Could that someone be the Browns to pair him with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron in the passing attack? Decker benefited greatly from Peyton Manning, as all receivers do, but has the talent to succeed on his own. In Cleveland he would be a clear #2 receiver and even get #3 attention with Cameron over the middle. Could be a win win for both the player and the team. I doubt Cleveland climbs the financial ladder high enough to pull him down.

There is a lot of defensive talent on the free agent board, especially if you look at the list. Only 6 of their 25 are offensive players and only 2 of those are skilled players, Graham and Decker. For a Browns team looking to boost their offensive production this off-season may not have the type of high talent players that spending cap space on will work. Could they spend big in free agency to finish off the defense, add a corner, inside linebacker, safety and a lineman, then go all offense with their huge draft stockpile? What do you think they should do? Who do you like from this list?