NFL Free Agency 2011: Johnathan Joseph, Ray Edwards Heading to Cleveland Browns?

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJuly 28, 2011

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 10:  Johnathan Joseph #22 of the Cincinnati Bengals breaks up a pass intended for Sammie Stroughter #18 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Paul Brown Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The 2011 NFL Free Agency period was predicted as a frenzy resulting in a dispersal of talent throughout the league as teams attempted to reach the salary cap bottom line.  Having reportedly offered “large contracts” to Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards and Cincinnati cornerback Johnathan Joseph, Cleveland Browns General Manager Tom Heckert has stayed true to his methodical approach aimed at securing young veteran players to augment the already young and developing Cleveland Browns core roster.

No need to rush, Mr. Heckert.

Johnathan Joseph, the 27-year-old cornerback, is not considered the premier player available at cornerback, but is a solid, young and proven player that provides a very critical need for the Browns.  With nine interceptions in the past two seasons and 28 pass deflections, Joseph is already playing to his potential and then some.  

Signing him is not a project and would immediately address deficiencies in the secondary.  The one drawback and knock on signing Joseph lies in his recent inability to stay healthy.  Joseph displayed a significant setback statistically in 2010 due to missing four games and being limited in many game time situations because of injuries.  That hasn't stopped teams from vying for his services.  Reportedly, the Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions and now Cleveland Browns are all in talks to obtain the five year veteran.   

Johnathan Joseph makes perfect sense considering the Browns are looking to part ways with free agent cornerback Eric Wright who is coming off an up and down season in 2010.  

Previously I discussed the need for a defensive end to bolster the pass rush and take the pressure off of the secondary.  For the past two days there have been rumblings about the Browns interest in Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards.  Edwards isn’t the top option due to concerns he benefits from playing opposite of Jared Allen.  However, he is a solid, young and active defender that can get after the quarterback AND stop the run.

Is anyone else noticing a trend here?

Adding Joseph and Edwards, both young with tons of upside and coming off of their rookie contracts, to an already young and blossoming defense could help the Browns turn the corner in the AFC North sooner rather than later.

What are the chances the Browns even land Ray Edwards?  According to SiriusXM NFL broadcaster Adam Schein, Edwards has been “raving” about the Cleveland Browns.
What, come again?

I don’t know about you, but Cleveland isn’t exactly a place that players rave about and get in line to come play for.  Rumors have surfaced that Edwards may be using the Cleveland Browns and their need for a defensive end as a means to bolster his value to his other preferred destinations with the Philadelphia Eagles or Atlanta Falcons.  The Tennessee Titans also have a stake in the negotiations and are actively trying to obtain his services.

What’s next?

According to Tom Heckert, the youth infusion on the Cleveland Browns roster will not be an excuse if the team wins five or six games again in 2011.  Mr. Heckert continues to preach that the Browns will not build their roster through NFL Free Agency and will continue to do so through drafting.  

What will be done about safety, linebacker and wide receiver?  Expect a low to mid-level depth player or two to be signed.  However, if Cleveland lands both Joseph and Edwards and Heckert remains true to his word, these may be the only “big” moves made by the Browns in the frantic NFL Free Agency 2011 frenzy.