While the Browns certainly have found their head coach and general manager of the future in Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry, they also made a number of worthwhile acquisitions last offseason in the draft, free agency, and trades. Starting at the fifth spot, these are the top five player acquisitions from the 2020 offseason.
Kevin Stefanski’s offense oftentimes features multiple tight ends on the field at once. The Browns decided to upgrade this position by signing Austin Hooper to a four-year contract, worth a total of $44 million. Hooper was a critical part of the Browns offensive attack as both a pass catcher and run blocker. Look for the pass catcher to become a focal part of the Browns’ red zone offense in year two with Baker Mayfield.
The rookie wide receiver was Cleveland’s fifth round pick in 2020’s draft. Despite being inactive for a few games early in the season, Peoples-Jones proved his worth numerous times throughout the second half of the season. The former Michigan Wolverine had one of the most memorable catches of the season; a last second touchdown haul to ensure a Browns win over Cincinnati. Peoples-Jones and Mayfield showed the ability to form good chemistry, despite the lack of practice time this year due to COVID-19.
3. B.J. Goodson
The veteran linebacker was signed to a one-year deal by the Browns and overperformed as he was signed for only $2.4 million. The Browns on-field defensive signal caller registered 91 total tackles this past year, including 59 solo tackles. Both of those numbers were good enough for first on the Browns defense. While the Browns would still be smart to invest in another playmaking linebacker, the 27-year-old Goodson should be retained.
Cleveland selected the former Alabama right tackle with the 10th pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft with plans to move him over to left tackle. The 2020 draft was rich in offensive line talent at the top. Wills was the only rookie offensive lineman to not allow four or more quarterback pressures in one game. The rookie also allowed only four sacks over the course of the season, playing a position he had never played before. Wills should continue to develop into a major force for the Browns as he continues to develop.
1. Jack Conklin
The Browns inked the former Titans right tackle to a three-year contract worth a total of $42 million, $30 million guaranteed. The 26-year-old excelled in offensive line coach Bill Callahan’s scheme, only allowing two sacks on the entire season. Conklin’s performance this year was good enough to earn him first team All-Pro honors. Conklin is entering the prime of his playing career, as he will be 27 at the beginning of the 2021 season. Right tackle was a highly questionable spot before Conklin’s arrival. The former Michigan State Spartan has not only solidified the right tackle spot, but the entire offensive line as well.