2. Jimmie Ward, S
There may be some skepticism surrounding Jimmie Ward’s 30-point jump in his Pro Football Focus grade over the past two seasons, but there’s something intriguing about keeping him paired with new Browns’ defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who was Ward’s defensive backfield coach in San Francisco last season.
Ward is a former first-round pick, who has talent, but has had bad luck with injuries. That said, his ailments aren’t recurring, so when he plays, he’s proven to be effective.
Ward didn’t have an interception last season, but still had eight passes defensed, in addition to 65 combined tackles.
Sportrac projects Ward will get around $7 million per season, which is still a hefty sum. It may be something Andrew Berry has to think about considering based off all of the holes on the roster.
Corner is probably a spot Berry will address in the draft, but in reality, Cleveland isn’t going to be able to draft three defensive starters, or sign the top free agents at every position, so maybe paying Ward $7 million for a season or two isn’t all that bad an idea.
Vikings safety Anthony Barr is probably the more optimal candidate, but considering the Browns need a tackle and a linebacker, he may price himself out of the Browns’ range.