The Cleveland Browns have $40 million in cap space entering the NFL Draft. These free agents may not be the cream of the crop, but they could still help the team build.
The 2016 NFL Draft is a handful of days away and after trading back to eighth overall, there’s plenty of speculation about who could be the pick. This front office group has made it clear that they wish to build this team for the long haul through the draft.
No complaints from this writer or really anyone on the FoS staff. But there’s plenty of needs on this team that rookies alone are not going to be able to fix. With just over $40 million dollars left under the cap, there is plenty left in the bank to continue to improve this team.
The free agents left on the market aren’t necessarily game changers, but they are players that can help this team build a professional environment and serve as examples for what will be a bevy of young players coming through Berea in the next few years.
When you look at the needs of this team, quarterback and wide receiver immediately come to mind. While the draft will be the best place for those needs to be addressed, there are other needs that can be taken care of, even if just in the short term, via free agency.
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It’s time to accept that Jalen Ramsey won’t be available at No. 8. Vernon Hargraves is a good player, but there hasn’t been any buzz around taking a corner. Why trade down if that was the position to draft? Instead, Nolan Carroll, Leon Hall, and Jerraud Powers are still out there. Leon Hall has experience with Hue Jackson from their time with the Bengals might make him the best fit among the group.
Demario Davis is a nice start, but there is a need for depth. I don’t know if the Browns have any plans to draft a middle linebackers like Josh Perry or Tyler Matekavich, but there are some veterans that could shore up the middle of the defense. Zach Brown, formerly of the Titans, has always been known as a sideline to sideline player and is much younger as a free agent than Karlos Dansby was.
Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack are playing elsewhere. With Cameron Erving penciled in at center, there’s still a need for some reinforcements up front. Don Barclay or Mike Adams could be a stop gap at tackle while Amini Siliatolu or Johnnie Troutman might provide interior depth.
This is a position that might be addressed via the draft, but it’s not exactly a priority. Arian Foster would be a high-risk move, but he is still out there. Signing Foster is NOT a move I would advocate, but perhaps Joique Bell would be worth an offer? He was the lead back in Detroit, but somehow has not garnered much interest on the open market.
Ok, so it needs to be addressed anyways. This position is a priority in the draft, or it better be. Of all of the positions on the free agent market, this one has the most depth available. After signing Dwayne Bowe last year, I would understand why the front office would be uneasy looking at any free agents at the position. Some of the names available have a heck of a resume: Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Anquan Boldin, Ricardo Lockette, Hakeem Nicks, and Nick Toon.
Obviously, most of these names also have quite a few miles on their tires. The reality, though, is that Andrew Hawkins and Brian Hartline are the only actual NFL receivers on the roster. No, Taylor Gabriel does not count. Even if on a one year deal to give something resembling a professional receiving corps would be a good use of the massive amount of cap room left.
None of this is to say that the Browns need to go out and sweep up the best of the remaining free agents. Not all of the guys mentioned are a good fit or worth the investment. But with $40 million available, there are still plenty of minor moves that can be made. Some action is far better than no action.