Devin Hester & Champ Bailey Released: Cleveland Browns a Fit?


Nov 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver

Devin Hester

(23) carries the ball during a game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 NFL Free Agent market will open for business next week. Until then we continue to have players added and subtracted from those that are available. Some agents have gotten a feel for the market and had their players resign with their current team, BJ Raji for 1 year with the Packers is the latest.

Other players have been informed they will not be retained by their team, being cut due to talent, salary or a combination of both. Two big name veterans have been informed yesterday that they will be cut by their teams: Devin Hester and Champ Bailey. Could the Cleveland Browns have interest in either?

Devin Hester

Hester tried the wide receiver route and found out he didn’t have what it took. He can be used for specialty plays, and as a decoy, but his route running is suspect and his injury concerns make it difficult to risk him in those situations.

Instead Devin Hester is a return guy. He and Josh Cribbs, the former Brown, were the two electric return men of the last 6 or so seasons with Cribbs being the thunder and Hester the lightening. Hester should get interest from around the league but maybe not for as much as he is hoping.

The Browns have some concern with Travis Benjamin coming back from his ACL that they don’t have a dynamic returner. They could draft a receiver or corner with return experience or could look Hester’s way.

For Hester he could be intrigued by signing a big one year deal with the Browns, with the team full of cap space, in order to prove his worth to the NFL. Hester could provide a spark in both the punt and kickoff returns as well as find a place with creative offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

It will all come down to what Hester is looking for. Will he be drawn by money and a chance to play on offense or will he look to go to a team he can get back to the Super Bowl with?

Champ Bailey

Bailey is old in NFL years, 36 to be exact. Bailey’s best years are behind him but he still seems to want to play. For the Browns the question will come down to cost and position. While needing a #2 corner is a real concern, Bailey’s age and injury history does not allow the team to depend on him there.

Teams often use their 3rd and 4th corners on special teams but Bailey would not be able to do so. Could Mike Pettine see Bailey’s experience as a perfect fit at Free Safety in his defense? Could he pair Bailey and Jarius Byrd together to both roam and use their ball hawking to create turnovers? Does Bailey have enough to defend solidly on the corner instead?

For Bailey a few questions come to mind similar to Hester. Does he want to compete for a ring? Does he look for a place to earn a bigger paycheck? Is he willing to move to FS? Does he enjoy mentoring younger players?

Bailey got to his first Super Bowl this year and realizes how hard it is to get to one. While he may want to compete again for that chance, he also should be realistic enough to know that his odds are pretty low. The team most likely to make the SB is his former team, the Broncos, due to the relative weakness of the AFC and Peyton Manning, but can he return at a reduced price or will his pride and desire for money move him on?

If you had to choose between one of these players which would you choose? Do you think Hester could electrify Cleveland like Cribbs did? Do  you think Bailey has enough in him to help in the secondary?