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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Browns Baker Mayfield (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Don’t break the bank

WR Khadarel Hodge

Khadarel Hodge played fine. He wasn’t a big part of the offense and he certainly didn’t make enough noise to make any changes to get him more reps. Donovan Peoples-Jones is probably the third wideout at the moment, with Odell Beckham hurt. Yet, Hodge knows the offense and he has a history with the team that isn’t nothing. If the deal is right, yeah, bring him back.

WR Rashard Higgins

In an ideal world, yes, Rashard Higgins is back as the third-receiver next year (or second if the team trades Beckham), but what is he going to cost? He’s not irreplaceable. He’s a fine receiver, and his rapport with quarterback Baker Mayfield is valuable, but to what end? He signed a $2.01 million deal in 2019 and a $900k deal in 2020. If you split the difference for a year, or go to $2 million for two years, perfect. Anything more than $2.5 mil for what equates to an average receiver isn’t wise.

MLB B.J. Goodson

B.J. Goodson is fine, just not a starter. If Goodson comes back as a backup or special teamer on a one-year deal, perfect. Otherwise don’t bother. He never should’ve been a starter.

TE Stephen Carlson

The Princeton alum is clearly a favorite of the coaching staff. Otherwise, why carry four tight ends? The Browns rarely ran any three tight end sets all year, and with Andy Janovich on the team, it’s not like he couldn’t have filled in if needed. So Stephen Carlson really had some fans on the coaching staff. If he isn’t demanding too much, he could easily be back.

DE/LB Olivier Vernon

Let’s be clear, at $11 million he’s a joke of an idea. At $4 million? Let’s talk. He’s good for 40 tackles and six sacks a year, and he’s versatile enough to play defensive end or outside linebacker, but he’d need to take far less money to come back in 2021. He’s certainly not washed up but there are better deals to be had.