5 Available Free Agents Still Within the Cleveland Browns' Reach
The media and fans have shifted their focus from free agency to the NFL draft. That is not the case with pro player personnel men around the league. There are still plenty of viable free agents available.
The Cleveland Browns have depth issues throughout their roster and should be digging through the bargain bin. Sometimes those late signings end up being big contributors.
Sure, the big names are usually signed in the first few days of free agency, but what happens if they go down with an injury? The player who steps in needs to keep the level of play high enough for the team to compete.
Finding those pillars of roster depth is what separates the mediocre teams from Super Bowl contenders. Let’s take a look at five players whom the Browns could still snag to help fill out their squad.
The Browns currently have two quarterbacks on their roster. They have Brian Hoyer who will compete for the starting job and Alex Tanney who is a leftover from an injury-riddled mess towards the end of 2013.
The reality is that the Browns need to find two new quarterbacks to fill out their team. They need one who will compete with Hoyer and another who can serve as a veteran leader for the group.
That is where Rex Grossman comes in. He spent the last few years playing under Kyle Shanahan, the Browns new offensive coordinator, in Washington. He knows the system and would be willing to wear a headset on Sundays.
Grossman, who many have thought to be a target of Cleveland’s for about a month, would probably not be signed until after the draft, however.
The Browns could opt to take two quarterbacks with their ten draft picks depending on how everything unfolds. If they don’t then I expect Grossman to be in Cleveland come training camp.
As I said earlier, at this point in free agency it is much more about adding depth or guys with high upside than finding immediate impact players. The Browns could use both depth and a guy with high upside at the wide receiver position.
Danario Alexander could certainly provide some depth and just might be able to deliver some boom for the buck as well. He is just one year removed from a season which he caught 37 passes for 658 yards and seven touchdowns.
Unfortunately he is once again recovering from knee surgery. In fact, you can’t even count all his knee surgeries on one hand at this point. The 27-year-old has had such six surgeries, but he is recovering from his first ever on his right knee.
For the right price, that being a very cheap one, Alexander could be worth a roll of the dice to bring into training camp. If he stays healthy and can contribute then the Browns would have a very solid stable of receivers. If he can’t then you cut ties before the season with no harm done.
If the price is right, the Browns should consider bringing in the guy who has haunted their dreams for over a decade. Outside linebacker James Harrison is 35 years old and can no longer play every down, but his fiery, infectious personality could do wonders for the Cleveland locker room.
He was also surprisingly effective for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. ProFootballFocus.com ranked him as the ninth-best outside linebacker overall and fourth best against the run, despite playing just 383 snaps (stats behind pay wall).
One of the biggest lessons that linebacker Barkevious Mingo needs to learn entering his second season is how to play angry. Harrison is the Mr. Miyagi of playing with a chip on your shoulder.
He is another player who would not cost much and could easily be disposed of at the end of training camp if he looks like a dinosaur. In the meantime, he would hopefully create some mean time (my apologies for the terrible pun) that could rub off on the Browns’ other outside linebackers.
Odds are that the Browns will select an inside linebacker somewhere in the first few rounds of the draft. Even so, they still need more depth.
Craig Robertson was a serious liability last season and Karlos Dansby is no spring chicken. The market for inside hitters was thin this year, but there is still one intriguing name out there.
Pat Angerer did not have the start to his career he would have liked. After being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Indianapolis Colts, he battled injuries the past two seasons and now finds himself without a team.
He started just 12 games the last two seasons combined because of injuries, but in 2011 he had 76 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He is exactly the type of player you can snag for very little money and let him compete in camp.
He is 27 years old and made just $630,000 last season and should not command much more than that this offseason. He is looking for opportunity more than money at this point.
Another player who has battled injuries but would be an interesting addition to the Browns would be cornerback Terrell Thomas. After not playing a down for two straight seasons, Thomas bounced back and was active for all 16 games with the New York Giants in 2013.
In seven starts he recorded 65 tackles, one interception and one sack. While his numbers don’t jump off the page his versatility does.
He played both cornerback positions last season, played some nickelback and strong safety as well. The Browns do not have the deepest secondary, and he would be great competition for second-year corner Leon McFadden.
Thomas might cost a little more cash because he was productive last year, but it would put the heat on McFadden who had a very underwhelming rookie campaign in 2013.