The Browns have several needs, which were mentioned in a previous article. Luckily, they have a plethora of cap space and draft picks for this offseason, along with a new experienced general manager.
Free agency begins on March 12, and there are some young free agents that would be ideal for the Browns to go after to allow them to focus on other positional needs. The important thing for the Browns to do is to sign younger veterans that can grow with the team and teach the new rookies, rather than bringing in high salary contracts for big stars, who will not be with the team for long.
Sammy Watkins, wide receiver
Last season with the Rams, Watkins totaled nearly 600 yards and eight touchdowns as a complimentary piece on the highest scoring offense in the NFL. The 24-year-old had his best season since 2015 when he played in 13 games and still had over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns.
Watkins was able to prove that he can stay healthy for a season, which was due to the other talented receivers in the Rams’ offense. His combination of size and speed, along with his consistent hands, should be able to mesh well with Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman.
Injuries have been a concern in the past, but after playing 15 games last season, he could bring a young, veteran presence to the wide receiver group.
Whether or not they sign a receiver in free agency, it is inevitable that the Browns will add another weapon from the draft. Other options include Mike Wallace, Taylor Gabriel and Eric Decker.
Tahir Whitehead, outside linebacker
Why shouldn’t Cleveland look north and go after one of the highest-rated linebackers according to Pro Football Focus? Whitehead played 16 games last season, racked up 110 tackles and recovered four fumbles. This followed a season where he had 132 tackles and five pass breakups.
Whitehead has been incredibly healthy as he has only missed one game over the last five seasons. This is something the Browns have had an issue with, so bringing in a linebacker like Whitehead will provide this young defense with a leader and someone who can play both inside and outside linebacker.
He will be able to fit into Cleveland’s system well and help relieve a need, but it is going to cost the Browns. Whitehead is expected to earn a yearly salary as high as $9.25 million, which would put him in the middle tier of starting linebackers. Other options include Connor Barwin, Aldon Smith (who has not been reinstated yet) and Nigel Bradham.
Garry Gilliam, right tackle
Right now, there is not a high-caliber starting right tackle on the market. However, the Browns should bring in a seasoned veteran to compete for the position. Gilliam has played in 52 games so far in his four-year career and played in eight games last season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
In 2017, he earned a grade of 68.5 from Pro Football Focus, which is much better than Shon Coleman, who started the season as Cleveland’s right tackle and he received a 53.0 grade.
Though their best bet would be to go after a tackle in the draft, the Browns can bring some depth because offensive line health issues have been an prevalent thing for this team. Other options include Byron Bell, James Hurst, LaAdrian Waddle.
Cleveland has a lot of resources, and it will be interesting to see how involved they will get come free agency time. It would be great for the Browns to gather these types of players to fill holes and to loosen the chains on the player personnel department. This fan base has been disappointed for too long, so hopefully this new management will be different.
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