5 Still-Unsigned Free Agents the Cleveland Browns Should Contact
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
As the Cleveland Browns wrap up minicamp, there are still five unsigned free agents that the team should contact.
CEO Joe Banner is building what he hopes will be a young, sustainable group of aggressive players entering their prime who can grow together.
High-profile free-agent newcomers Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant—both age 27—are perfect examples of that.
So who is left on the open market who could still help the Browns?
Older veteran stars such as Dwight Freeney, John Abraham and Dallas Clark are out of the question because of their ages and their likely demand for expensive contracts.
Safety Kerry Rhodes remains available and played on defensive coordinator Ray Horton's defense last season in Arizona. The Browns' inexperienced secondary could use the help. Not gobbling him up could speak volumes of Horton's opinion of Rhodes.
The Browns' quarterback group seems full with the addition of Brian Hoyer while running back and the defensive line are bursting at the seams with personnel.
Let's break down the most likely candidates to wear an orange helmet in 2013 at positions in need of depth or further competition.
5. Jordan Babineaux, Safety
Free agent safety Jordan Babineaux
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Experience and depth at safety remain an issue for the Browns.
Getting first-team reps in camp at free safety is undrafted second-year player Tashaun Gipson. Behind him is this year's sixth-round pick, Jamoris Slaughter, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. After that, it's recently reassigned cornerback Johnson Bademosi.
That's a combined two seasons of NFL experience for three largely unproven defenders. Throw in the often-injured strong safety T.J. Ward, and the secondary looks vulnerable.
Signing a steady veteran like Jordan Babineaux is needed to solidify the ranks in case someone goes down.
The 10-year pro turns 31 in August, but his durability and consistency are what should catch the eye of Cleveland's front office. He has not missed a game in the past four seasons.
Being over the age of 30 is a rarity in this new high-energy Browns team, but securing Babineaux (who was was scheduled to make $200,000 in 2013) to a one-year deal would be a low risk and inexpensive security blanket that could pay dividends as the season wears on.
4. Mike Cox, Fullback
Free agent fullback Mike Cox
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
Five running backs currently on the roster in Trent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, Chris Ogbonnaya, Dion Lewis and Brandon Jackson have dropped the importance of finding a fullback down the to-do list.
The only true fullback on Browns is Owen Marecic. That is unacceptable.
Marecic lost his starting job to tight end Alex Smith partway through last season after bumbling through numerous dropped passes and missed blocking assignments.
Even if the position is not prominent in offensive coordinator Norv Turner's strategy, possessing a serviceable option would seem important. At the very least, competition needs to be created at the fullback position.
This is where former Atlanta Falcons fullback Mike Cox comes in. He would push Marecic and maybe some of that winning culture from the Falcons would rub off on Marecic and others in Cleveland.
The 27-year-old Cox would mesh perfectly with the experienced yet youthful blend that CEO Joe Banner clamors after in free agency. Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant and Quentin Groves are all examples of that under-30 club.
At 6'0" and 252 pounds, Cox looks like he could seriously challenge for the top spot in whatever role the fullback ends up having.
3. Evan Moore, Tight End
Free agent tight end Evan Moore highlights during his first stint with the Browns
Depth at the tight end position was addressed by the Browns in the early parts of free agency as Gary Barnidge and Kellen Davis were both brought aboard.
Jordan Cameron is pegged for the starting role, but like Barnidge, he has trouble staying healthy. The most recent ailment to Cameron came during minicamp on Wednesday when he tweaked his hamstring while making a catch.
That injury came after the 6'5", 245-pound tight end had recovered from nursing a pulled groin.
Cleveland's best insurance policy could very well be the familiar face of Evan Moore. The 28-year-old played his first three NFL seasons with the Browns before being cut during the 2012 training camp.
The former Stanford Cardinal delivered career-high statistics in 2011 with four touchdowns and 34 receptions. It looked like he was set to be the Dawg Pound's tight end of the future.
However, his inconsistent play allowed a cheaper prospect in Jordan Cameron to eventually take away his roster spot.
Moore has proven that he can perform in flashes. Being coached by position coach Jon Embree and offensive coordinator Norv Turner could further draw out his natural athletic gifts.
Moore would be a smart signing as an experienced safety net.
2. Rex Hadnot, Offensive Guard
Free agent guard Rex Hadnot
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Offensive lineman Rex Hadnot was with the Browns during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, so a return to Cleveland makes good sense for a guard who would join a thinly staffed line.
This section of the O-line leans on the steady John Greco, the penalty-drawing tendencies of Shawn Lauvao, and the recently healthy Jason Pinkston, who has recovered from a blood clot in 2012. Garrett Gilkey, a seventh-round draft pick this year, is trying to earn a roster spot as a backup tackle or guard.
Until the Browns know what they have in a recovering Pinkston and a developing Gilkey, bringing in a 31-year-old veteran in Hadnot on a short-term contract would be a wise decision for depth purposes.
A bonus is that the Texas native knows offensive coordinator Norv Turner's style since he played for him last year in San Diego.
1. Derek Dimke, Kicker
Free agent kicker Derek Dimke with a perfect kickoff delivery
The signings of Shayne Graham and Brandon Bogotay were supposed to fill the massive void left by Phil Dawson.
They still might, but not if what ESPN's Tony Grossi reported on June 4 from the Browns' mini-camp continues:
I watched veteran Shayne Graham struggle to get much distance on kickoffs (into the wind) and then watched hopeful Brandon Bogotay hit an upright with one field goal attempt and then skim the crossbar with the very next one.
Of course, that was from only one practice and there is plenty of time before the Sept. 8 home opener.
What if these inconsistencies continue? Adding another leg to the mix for more competition couldn't hurt.
An intriguing name that remains on the kicking free agent market is Derek Dimke.
The Illinois alum looked good when making both field goal attempts (40 and 31 yards) in a preseason game for the Detroit Lions last August. However, incumbent Jason Hansen held off the rookie and kept his job.
At 23, why not try Dimke out and give his powerful leg a shot?
Follow Andy McNamara on Twitter @AndyMc81