Browns: No. 1 WR is Cleveland’s biggest offensive need this offseason

Browns (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Browns (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

A No. 1 wideout is the Browns biggest need on offense in 2021.

The expectation of the offseason is that the Browns will bolster a defense littered with holes on the defensive line, linebacker and to some degree corner.

The Browns certainly need to address these spots, but the offense also has a glaring need: No. 1 wide receiver.

This need stretches beyond 2021–and no, I haven’t forgotten about Odell Beckham Jr.

Beckham is hurt, though, undergoing ACL surgery last November. It’s typically a 12-month injury, If, all goes according to plan. The Browns would then be asking Beckham to come back fresh off a year-long injury to help with a playoff push.

Talk about a big ask.

OK, but give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say Beckham plays five or six games next season and let’s also say he plays at the same level he was at in 2020 before the injury, meaning he can impact games, but he’s far from being a 10-reception, 2-TD per game threat.

So, after the 2021 season, the Browns will have a major question to ask: Will they carry both Jarvis Landry ($14.3 million in the final year of his contract) and Beckham ($13.75 million) in 2022?

Beckham, who will be 30 this season, might be capable of a good game every few weeks, but his days as a true No. 1 look to be over. Think of the receivers you see in highlight reels every week: DeAndre Hopkins, DeVante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Michael Thomas–heck throw Steelers rookie Chase Claypool in there.

Perhaps upon his return,  Beckham’s performance will be different paired with a more confident Baker Mayfield. We all hope this will be true and that Beckham re-gains the form that made him one of the faces of the league, but realistically, he’ll just be older with a major knee injury on his resume.

Ownership really likes both players, with Jimmy Haslam naming Landry and Beckham as part of the team’s “young core” in January 2020, but the Browns will need to carve out cap space to keep their own free agents, such as Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward.

It would be stunning to see the Browns use the 26th pick on a receiver. By the time the Browns pick, the cream of the crop will be long gone. That said, the Steelers found Claypool in the fourth round last year.

I don’t actually think the Browns will use the 26th pick in the draft to take a wideout, but it doesn’t erase the need the Browns have for true No. 1 wideout.

Perhaps 6-4 LSU standout Terrance Marshall Jr. will be available. Six-foot Florida wideout Kadarius Toney is another prospect generating late first-round buzz because of his potential playing underneath.

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Like I said, it’s a long shot, but pay attention to the position because the status quo may not continue to hold much longer.