The Cleveland Browns have five restricted free agents; D'Qwell Jackson, Jerome Harrison, Matt Roth, Lawrence Vickers, and Abe Elam. All five were tendered at the second round level. Their tender amounts are: $1.759 million, $1.759 million, $1.809 million, $1.759 million, and $1.759 million respectively. They have until April 15th to sign the tender or an offer sheet with another team or else their rights revert back to the Browns.
If they sign their tender, depending on the upcoming collective bargaining agreement, they would be unrestricted free agents the following year.
There has been very little movement in the restricted free agent market, with Seahwaks quarterback Charlie Whitehurst being the notable exception. Teams seem to be hoarding their draft picks for the upcoming draft that has been forecast as one of the deepest in years. Some pundits speculate that the Browns would be willing to part with one or more of their free agents to obtain draft picks as compensation.
Unless that player is D'Qwell Jackson, I am firmly against this plan of action. Roth showed excellent pass rushing promise at the outside linebacker spot late last year. Everyone is aware of the tear Harrison went on over the last four games and Vickers played a monumental role in that production. He is a top five NFL fullback. Abe Elam is nothing special but with our decimated secondary we need every competent body we have. D'Qwell doesn't seem to fit Rob Ryan's 3-4 and too often gets lost in the wash. This and the signing of Scott Fujita makes him expendable.
These four players are solid contributors at the NFL level and to trade them for the potential of a draft pick makes little sense to me. We may be rebuilding, but to accomplish that you need proven foundation pieces in place before you add the decorative trim through the draft.
I hope the Browns' free agents sign their tenders today and are welcomed back into the fold. This city and this writer wants you back.
Article update: The rights to all five restricted free agents reverted back to the Cleveland Browns on April 16th.