Cleveland Browns: 5 Free Agents Who Could Turn the Browns Franchise Around

Brian MurtaughAnalyst IMarch 3, 2011

Cleveland Browns: 5 Free Agents Who Could Turn the Browns Franchise Around

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    BALTIMORE, MD - JANUARY 2:  Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the ball against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 2, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 13-6. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
    Larry French/Getty Images

    The Cleveland Browns are well into the rebuilding process and have already cut five players in anticipation of this year's draft and free-agency periods.

    The Browns have a new coaching staff and a new mentality. It is safe to say that the cuts and trade rumors are far from being over and some of the teams key pieces from last season are currently on the free-agent market.

    Along with those players, nearly 100 other men currently do not have jobs in the NFL, and the possibilities for teams to attract talent are endless.

    This list is five players that could change the face of the Browns franchise for the better over the course of the next several years.

No. 5: Barrett Ruud, LB

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    TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Linebacker Barrett Ruud #51 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sets on defense against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on November 30, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Barrett Ruud has quickly become one of the better linebackers in the NFL, and it appears that his days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come to an end.

    Ruud has stated that he believes 2010 was his last season in Tampa and he is looking for a team where he can "excel and be wanted."

    Cleveland's defense is under new direction with Dick Jauron and could use another linebacker in the 4-3 system

    Scott Fujita showed the Browns organization how much one player can impact a team, as the defense immediately looked better when he was on the field.

    So far in his career, Ruud has 587 tackles, six forced fumbles and six interceptions.

    Against the Browns in Week 1 of last season, Ruud recorded seven solo tackles and forced a game-changing fumble.

No. 4: Tyson Clabo, RT

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 28: Offensive tackle Tyson Clabo #77 of the Atlanta Falcons gets set at the line of scrimmage in the first quarter the game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on September 28, 2008 in Charlotte, North Caroli
    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Tyson Clabo is a monster of a right tackle that would help the Browns offense take their running attack to the next level.

    The Browns offensive line is still a revolving door, even though the team has acquired free agents in each of the last three off seasons.

    Joe Thomas, Eric Stienbach and Alex Mack on the left side have shown to be three of the best linemen in the AFC North but the right side of the line is has been decimated by injury every season.

    Clabo is one of the best right tackles in the game and has blocked for 1,000-yard rushers on several different occasions.

No. 3: Danny Amendola, WR

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    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 05:  Wide receiver Danny Amendola #16 of the St. Louis Rams runs with the football during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated t
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Danny Amendola may be attracted to Cleveland for two reasons.

    The first would be Pat Shurmur. Shurmur's coaching duties in St.Louis had him working with the quarterbacks and wide receivers on a regular basis and he was reportedly one of the key factors in helping the duo form such a great alliance.

    The second would be Amendola's opportunity to become a feature in the Browns offense.

    Colt McCoy needs players to throw the ball to ,and no matter how many different ways the front office tries to cut it, Mohammed Massaqoui and Brian Robiskie aren't getting the job done.

    Amendola had a breakout season with the Rams last year as he had 85 catches for almost 700 yards.

    Note: Amendola had 45 more catches than the Browns' leading wide receiver in 2010 (Chansi Stuckey, 40 catches).

    Even though Amendola signed a one-year tender with the Rams, he will eventually be on the market again and Pat Shurmur could play a significant role in bringing him to Cleveland.

No. 2: Cedric Benson, RB

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    CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Cedric Benson #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals 34-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Imag
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    This choice may come as a surprise to some people, but there would be some very good reasons for the Browns to pursue Cedric Benson.

    Benson has had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons with the Bengals over the last two years and is a proven tough runner.

    Peyton Hillis had a phenomenal season in 2010, but he also carried the ball a career number of times and also took some punishing blows with his hard style of running.

    Benson would provide some great versatility options in the backfield and also give the Browns some much needed insurance if, for some reason, Hillis went down with an injury.

    Monterio Hardesty and Mike Bell are also both on the current roster, but Bell did not impress last season and Hardesty never made it out of training camp before tearing his ACL in the third pre-season game.

No. 1: Vincent Jackson, WR

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 16:  Wide receiver Vincent Jackson #83 of the San Diego Chargers dives into the endzone for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 16, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Pho
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Vincent Jackson was caught up in a contract dispute for most of last season but that does not take away from his abilities as a football player.

    Jackson would immediately turn the Browns' receiving corps into a strong weapon and also make the thought of drafting a wide receiver unnecessary.

    Jackson has had some great seasons in the league but he has also had a quality quarterback throwing him the ball.

    It is impossible to know how he would fare with Colt McCoy but he could definitely be the "homerun hitter" that Mike Holmgren is looking for.

Want More?

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    CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 03:  Matt Roth #53 of the Cleveland Browns sacks quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    There are many more free agents on the market that can make a significant impact with many teams.

    Let me know who I forgot and comment below!

    Brian Murtaugh is a Cleveland Browns Featured Columnist as well as the lead columnist for Browns Central