With less than two weeks to go before the regular season begins, it's getting to be crunch time for the Browns as they sort out any remaining roster issues they have going into their final preseason game.
The Browns' front office did an excellent job of filling in small gaps in the roster thus far, but injuries, a few players turning in disappointing performances and most importantly, depth issues, have left a few areas of the team looking remarkably thin and in need of some additional help.
The roster cuts from other teams thus far haven't put much back out on the open market that would be particularly useful to the Browns (or really to anyone, for that matter), but desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Browns could use some extra help at LB, in the secondary and on the offensive line, however minimal it might be.
Obviously the Browns can't bring in too many additional players, as they have some difficult decisions to make themselves regarding their next round of cuts, but they may need to balance out a couple of positions where they're a little overloaded with depth with others where their options are very, very thin.
Following are current free agents by position whom the Browns might benefit from adding to the team at the 11th hour. Please be advised that due to the limited options among players recently released, I have also included free agents who have yet to be signed by any team in 2011 who might fit the bill.
There are many more like these guys out there, so if you're eying someone specific, be sure to leave your own nominees for available players Cleveland should consider signing in the comments below!
Two Dockerys in the secondary? It might not be a bad idea.
Dockery number one is a guy we all know pretty well by now: former undrafted free agent CB James Dockery who was picked up by the Browns last month and has impressed in the preseason.
The other is CB Kevin Dockery who has been released by the Steelers and is currently a free agent.
It's no secret that the Browns have depth issues in the secondary and that it is probably a weaker area of the team than many of us thought it would be going into camp. Therefore the Browns should be seriously considering trolling the market for a DB or two to give them some insurance and/or additional options in the backfield.
There are many available players at the position who might be good candidates, but Kevin Dockery is one who stands out. While his numbers are not spectacular, he had a notably good season in 2008 with the super bowl champion New York Giants. Since then he's been waived by the Rams and Steelers, but had enough talent that the Browns might want to give him another chance.
Other options could include: another ex-Steeler Anthony Madison, former Colt Kelvin Hayden, the aging but possibly still viable Roderick Hood, Randal Gay, or William James.
As was the case with cornerbacks and well, at pretty much any position at this point in the preseason, there isn't much available at safety.
Oddly, the Browns seem to find themselves with arguably less needs at safety than at cornerback, which is a bit of a surprise to some of us. Still, especially with Usama Young still recovering from injury and Mike Adams with much to prove, the Browns could use some insurance here.
The Browns love to pick up former Eagles, so one decent option at at FS might be Antoine Harris. And if you're feeling brave about picking up an old guy who has injury concerns but still has some serviceable talent left to offer, there's always Darren Sharper.
At SS, there is veteran Renaldo Hill (recently released from the Broncos), Michael Lewis, and of course, 15 year vet Lawyer Milloy.
While the Browns' offensive line has come a very long way since last season, they still have a ways to go before we can be completely confident that they can protect QB Colt McCoy adequately for an entire season.
The right side of the line is, as always, the more concerning area, but the injury to LG Eric Steinbach (which forced rookie Jason PInkston into a potential starting role, though he may not be ready yet) has created a depth problem on the left side as well.
On the right side, Shawn Lauvao and Tony Pashos are both very solid players, but there remains little depth behind them if either gets injured, which is especially concerning here since both have had health issues in the past.
Some options at guard available on the open market include: ex-Bear Josh Beekman, ex-Eagle Nick Cole, and Herman Johnson.
At tackle, the Browns might want to consider Shawn Andrews, who has struggled with and sought treatment for clinical depression but has some talent to offer, ex-Saints veteran Jon Stinchcomb, and Rob Petitti.
The good news for the Browns (who are very short on depth at linebacker) is that there are a lot of available LBs floating around out there on the open market. The bad news is that there are very few among them who can adequately play multiple linebacking positions, which as we've discussed before, is really what the Browns need most.
While a more versatile LB (ideally someone who could play weakside as well as MLB) would be ideal, it doesn't look like a realistically attainable option for the Browns on the open market of current free agents and recently released players.
So it looks like the Browns might have to simply bring in a few LBs at see if they can't piece together some depth at LB one specific position at a time.
At ILB, some available options include former Packer Brandon Chillar, Channing Crowder (who surprisingly announced his retirement on August 9th but might be able to be lured back), and eight year veteran Gerald Hayes, who was recently let go by the Cardinals.
At MLB there is ex-GIant Chase Blackburn, former Bengal Dhani Jones, and of course the big name on everyone's minds, Lofa Tatupu.
Finally at OLB, the Browns might want to look at recently released Patriot Tully Banta-Cain, Quentin Moses (who has some diversity in terms of where he can line up), or maybe a guy like Jyles Tucker.