Browns: Deciding which Cleveland free agents should come back

Cleveland Browns Olivier Vernon (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns Olivier Vernon (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Browns have 26 players about to enter free agency but are any of them worth bringing back for another season?

The Cleveland Browns have 26 free agents this year, and a desperate need to improve the defense. A defense that went from 7th against the pass in 2019, to 22nd against the pass in 2020. Clearly letting guys like Joe Schobert, Damarious Randall, and others affected this team.

So the Browns need to make space to improve the defense as a whole. They also need to clear cap space to be able to afford Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb, while keeping the salary cap flexible to make moves as needed beyond just this year or next. So not every one of the 26 free agents is coming back.

So let’s look at how we’re breaking this down. Each player will be placed in one of five categories. First is the “Should Not Return” category. Which is obvious. These are players who either didn’t do anything, were highly ineffective, or a problem to the team. These are the players you let go to help keep flexibility with roster spots. The second category is “Training Camp Invites”. The guys who played, but didn’t play well, who may be able to fill a roster spot only after a training camp competition. Then there’s the third category, the guys you re-sign outright if there’s no one else, called, “If No One Else…” These cats get a new deal only if free agency or the draft don’t net you with desirable replacements.

Then there’s the fourth category, the guys who did well enough to come back but may price themselves out of a deal; “Don’t Break the Bank” tier. Really solid players, but guys who you aren’t going to over-pay for.

Lastly, there’s simply “The Obvious Crew”.

Now talent isn’t the only determinating factor. The estimated price, their ability to fill a need (starter/backup/special teams player), and their impact on the team at large. All of that goes into consideration. So don’t get mad if a less talented player is on a more desirable list. It’s simply that he’s probably going to be more affordable and isn’t going to need to start.

With that, let’s get into it.