In his first foray into free agency, Andrew Berry has dramatically improved the Cleveland Browns roster, all while spending wisely.
The Cleveland Browns overpaid for Case Keenum, so how can the franchise be deemed financial winners of free agency?
Andrew Berry has spent smartly elsewhere on the roster, even though he paid extra for a premier position. That’s why/.
All that truly matters when looking at an NFL contract is guaranteed money, and the contract given to Jack Conklin is a great starting point.
The coveted right tackle signed a three-year contract, which will cost Cleveland $42 million. Of that figure, $30 million is guaranteed, with $20 million guaranteed in year one. Ideally, Conklin lives to see the end of the contract, because it probably means the line is stable and he’s doing a good job, if that’s the case.
If he doesn’t last that long? Well, the Browns are invested for two seasons, which is a heck-of-a-lot better than handing out a five-year deal worth $85-$95 million.
Austin Hooper was Berry’s first splash of free agency, as he made the Falcons’ free agent the highest paid tight end in the league. Make no mistake about it: Hooper’s not Travis Kelce or George Kittle. That said, he’s good. Very good. When you take into account Baker Mayfield loves throwing to tight ends, the Browns are better for adding a dependable receiver who can catch the ball underneath.
Hooper’s contract is to run for four years and pay out $42 million, with $23 million guaranteed. Did Berry overpay? Probably, but better to do so at the tight end position, than shell out $90 million for a tackle.
Keenum signed a three-year deal for $18 million, of which $10 million is guaranteed. Sure, the Browns overpaid, but in the veteran quarterback, first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski has someone he can turn to in an emergency.
Keenum is a plug-and-play option in Stefanski’s system and he’s a big upgrade to what the Browns have fielded the past couple of years.
Additionally, Keenum should push Mayfield, but this doesn’t mean there should be any rumblings of a quarterback competition. Rather, Keenum (hopefully) can show Mayfield how to be a pro quarterback.
That’s not to say Drew Stanton couldn’t, but Keenum’s at least achieved some level of success, having led the 2017 Vikings to the playoffs.
Berry’s signings help the Brows contend for the playoffs right now, while leaving flexibility within the salary cap when it comes time for him to extend players already on the current roster.
Berry may only be 32 and Super Bowls aren’t won in March, but the first-time GM is off to a good start.