Hunter Henry (TE)/Austin Eckler (RB)/Derek Watt (FB)
This is a cheat, and there isn’t a care given. All three players are or shall we say were with the Los Angeles Chargers. With Phillip Rivers on the market and the team clearly looking to rebuild, there’s a valid chance that all three talents are left to walk in free agency. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn deserves better than Chargers’ ownership.
Hunter Henry might be the best free-agent tight end on the market, but he’s coming off of a year where again he was subject to injuries. He’s missed 23 games in four years, which means he’s missed a whopping 36% of his career already. There’s no doubt that Henry won’t be offered a massive deal by the Chargers, or really by anyone. He’s one year recovered from a torn ACL and has been plagued by other issues to boot. He’s talented as hell but injury-plagued. Which means he could be a bargain. Even if he only plays 12 games a year for the Browns, that’s still 12 more games of production you can expect out of him, then say someone like David Njoku.
It seems unlikely that Austin Ekeler would be let go but both he and starting running back Melvin Gordon Jr. are free agents. Gordon wants to return to the Chargers, so the likelihood that both are brought back for a team that was 5-11 is unlikely. Add on the fact the team is looking to draft a quarterback for the first time in 17 years, and the focus probably isn’t going to be bringing back a lot of players who achieved a whopping five wins. Ekeler can do everything you’d want a secondary running back to do. He can spell the workhorse, line up next to him and provide a different wrinkle to the offense and be a dangerous passing option out of the backfield. For the right price, he’s the perfect piece to replace Duke Johnson.
Lastly, Derek Watt is up. Watt might be easily lured away with a cap-friendly deal. With the Chargers not going to be competitive for a year or two, unless they hit the next great quarterback legend in the draft, then there’s a possibility of major roster turnover. Watt would be a valuable asset for the Browns, opening up the run game even more so for Nick Chubb, regardless of the offensive line’s quality. Watt has shown to be a good blocker, and if his brothers T.J. and J.J. are any indications, he’s a hell of an athlete. Watt should be able to provide a decent check-down option for Baker Mayfield as a last resort when plays fall apart, or as short yard runner.
Signing all three would be cost-effective improvements over what the team has. Plus there’s the added incentive of pillaging the Chargers; which is just an added bonus.