Opinion: Cleveland Browns’ free agent watch

Ty Sugick

The National Football League free agency will officially kick off Wednesday at 4 p.m., which is a very intense scramble for teams to make their bid at potential newcomers to their organizations.

For the Cleveland Browns, this day marks the magical date where they’re able to move forward from the Johnny Manziel era and begin a new one under new head coach Hue Jackson. Luckily for Jackson and the Browns, they have close to $50 million in cap space to work with this off-season to try to improve this roster.

Looking at this team, there aren’t as many gaps on this roster as one would expect for a 3-13 team: They still are bringing back a dangerous secondary, a stable offensive line and a few athletic outside linebackers that have the potential to be dangerous in the pass rush under the right scheme.

The team will have to re-sign offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz if they want to keep their line stable, especially after Alex Mack decided to opt out of his contract three years early. Mack’s replacement is likely to be free agent veteran Stefen Wisniewski from Jacksonville, that is, if he does not re-sign with the Jaguars.

The biggest areas of concern for the Browns are clearly at quarterback, wide receiver and a consistent pass rusher. The Browns are going to draft either Wentz or Goff in the upcoming draft.

Josh McCown is still on the roster, so you can forget about a free agent quarterback signing. The only player worth pursuing is Denver’s Brock Osweiler, and with Peyton Manning retiring, there are plenty of reasons pointing as to why Osweiler will not be available for suitors.

As for the wide receiver position, there is much improvement needed — especially if the team is expected to have a rookie quarterback taking snaps this fall. The team currently only has two receivers who are truly relevant to the league. Andrew Hawkins and Josh Gordon are the only two real threats in the passing game outside of Gary Barnidge.

Luckily for the Browns, their new head coach has ties to the two hottest names in the free agent market. Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, both from Cincinnati. Their addition wouldn’t only solidify the receiving corps, but add a lot of great needed height to them also.

If the team is only able to pull off signing Sanu in free agency, look for Texas Christian University’s Josh Doctson or Notre Dame’s Will Fuller to be selected in the early middle rounds of the draft. Also, let’s hope that Josh Gordon will be reinstated for the upcoming season to give the Browns a true No. 1 receiver threat.

The Browns’ defense is full of athletic freaks at the outside linebacker position in Barkevious Mingo, Paul Kruger and Nate Orchard. All who have seemed to be misused since they have arrived to Berea. The new coaching staff already has plans to give those guys better opportunities to get to the quarterback this season.  

There is still room for improvement and veteran guys such as Nick Perry from the Green Bay Packers, or Stephen Tulloch from the Lions, could be very solid pick-ups – for the right price. Also keep in mind that pass rushers are the staple of the draft, so you can also look to add a rookie to the mix of pass rushers for next year.

Also expect the Browns to inquire about free agent running backs and tight ends to help add depth to the roster. Both positions are good enough to get by in this league, but more depth wouldn’t hurt.

The Cleveland Browns have $50 million to spend and they should look to cash out this off-season and make them setup a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. But we must remember it is Cleveland; anything can happen.

Ty Sugick is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].