Cleveland Browns: 3 Risky Free Agent Moves They Should Consider

Brandon SommersCorrespondent IMarch 4, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - 2008:  Vernon Gholston of the New York Jets poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Getty Images)
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Every NFL offseason brings with it a seemingly endless supply of hyperbole and speculation.

Fans everywhere delusionally convince themselves that their team will be signing every big-name free agent that will be available.

This is especially true in cities like Cleveland, where the fanbase is starved for a winning team; this is especially true this year with the uncertainty surrounding the CBA.

So, let's be realistic. We don't know when/if free agency will happen this year and Cleveland is the kind of place that will have to pay a little more to attract some of the bigger names.

With that in mind, here are three moves the Browns could realistically make to improve the team, but each of them carry some risk.

That risk however, is what makes these moves more feasible.


1. Sidney Rice

This is probably the least risky of the three moves I have in mind, but would probably be the most expensive.

When Minnesota put the franchise tag on Chad Greenway, it effectively waved their chances of retaining Rice goodbye and Cleveland is on the short list of possible destinations.

Rice has played in a similar system to the west coast offense the Browns will be implementing this season, so he would be a very good fit for the team.

So, where's the risk? Well, Rice sat out most of last season with a major hip injury and there is some questions about his durability moving forward; on top of that, Rice will be looking for a high-dollar long-term deal.

So the question is, is it worth locking up big money for a player who may be an injury risk?

In this case, I think it is.


2. Mathias Kiwanuka

The Giants would like to keep Kiwanuka in New York, but they have several important pieces of their offense they need to re-sign and a surplus of defensive ends, so he probably won't get top priority.

Kiwanuka is a risk because his season was ended last year with a neck injury. Doctors have officially cleared him to play again, but the Giants have publicly speculated that they aren't even sure if he'll be able to play again.

That seems to me like an attempt to scare other interested teams off.

The Browns have a big need at defensive end with the switch to the 4-3 defense. Kiwanuka is a relentless pass-rusher who is versatile enough that the Giants started using him at linebacker at times.

Dick Jauron likes to run a system that is similar to what the Giants run, so Kiwanuka would be a natural fit in Cleveland.

The Browns are in a position that they could offer Kiwanuka more money than New York could pay him, which could assure him of much more playing time than he would get there as well.

If the Browns were to attempt to sign Kiwanuka, they would need to exercise a little caution and make sure that his health checks out.


3. Vernon Gholston

This may seem like a stupid move. The Ohio State product and former No. 6 pick in the draft has been a legendary bust for the New York Jets, which led to his release this week.

My reasoning here is that the Browns have a big need at defensive end and they could probably sign Gholston to a cheap incentive-laden deal.

Gholston has been a square peg that New York try to stuff in the round hole of their 3-4 defense. I think it may worth it to see how he'd fair in a defense more suited to his skill set.

A more natural position combined with a change of scenery and a return to Ohio might be just what he needs to revive his career.

If it works, it would be a brilliant move; if it doesn't work, the Browns could simply cut ties and it wouldn't cost them too much.

I think it would be worth it.


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