For the first time in many years, the Cleveland Browns are going into an offseason with a number of key questions already answered. Browns’ head coach Kevin Stefanski was the recipient of two coach of the year awards and general manager Andrew Berry seems to have his pulse on the franchise. Perhaps most importantly however, Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield has shown enough to warrant the title of “franchise quarterback”.
The Browns can now use this offseason to help fill a few needs. Firstly, Cleveland must decide what to do with star receiver Odell Beckham, who missed the second half of the season with a torn ACL in his knee. The market for the wideout might not be that intense, as Beckham will be turning 29 years old on November 5. While Beckham has shown flashes of brilliance since he joined the Browns, a decision will have to made as his injury history seemingly grows every year. Berry will have to decide whether or not Beckham is worth the money, as the Browns have a few of their homegrown players that will due for pay raises very soon.
A majority of the resources the Browns have this offseason should go to the defensive side of the ball; an area that the Browns struggled in at times this past year. The Browns will most likely not re-sign pass rusher Olivier Vernon who is a free agent, as the veteran unfortunately tore his achilles late in the regular season. Cleveland will have to find another pass rusher opposite Myles Garrett.
Additionally, it is time for the Browns to invest in a game-changing linebacker. It is unclear whether or not the on-field play caller for the Browns, linebacker BJ Goodson will be back or not. If the Browns opt to not keep Goodson, they will not only need to replace their on field signal caller, but one of the leading tacklers as well. While Goodson could be retained at somewhat of a good value, Cleveland would be smart to invest heavily in a new linebacker; preferably one who excels in pass coverage against opposing tight ends. While the Browns have the 26th pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, they could also opt to sign another veteran to that position.
The Browns should also be aided by the return of defensive backs Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams who missed the entire season due to injury. Delpit tore his achilles tendon in training camp, while Williams has been dealing with a nerve issue in his shoulder. Stefanski indicated in his end of season press conference that both will return next season. This should provide a major boost to a Browns secondary that was much maligned this year at times, especially when missing star corner Denzel Ward for a few games due to injury and COVID issues.
In general, Cleveland fans should be extremely optimistic heading into this offseason. While there are still a few questions to be answered in terms of defensive help and Beckham Jr, the Browns are in fantastic shape to improve on their 11-5 record from this past year. If Cleveland is able to fill in some areas on offense and defense with some more speed, the Browns should be in fantastic shape as they have laid the foundation for how a successful franchise prepares and performs on Sunday.