Roster Holes Browns Must Fill Before Training Camp
There's been a ton of buzz surrounding the Cleveland Browns' quarterback room this offseason. Who will be under center for Week 1 of the 2022 season? That's still not clear.
Baker Mayfield is now gone. He was traded to the Carolina Panthers last week. The Browns traded for Deshaun Watson and signed him to an extension, but he's currently facing a possible suspension from the NFL for numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. So that could make Jacoby Brissett the starting QB for the opener.
That's not the only position on Cleveland's depth chart with some uncertainty, though. There are spots where the Browns still have holes, even after an offseason in which they made some notable moves and brought in a new rookie class via the draft.
Here's a look at several holes on Cleveland's roster that the team may want to consider filling prior to the first day of training camp, which is set for July 27.
Cleveland's receiving corps was depleted when the offseason began. But the team has greatly improved the unit since then. The Browns acquired Amari Cooper in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys, and they used their third-round pick in the draft on David Bell.
But this still isn't a group that ranks among the best in the NFL. If Bell doesn't become an immediate contributor, then Cleveland is lacking depth beyond Cooper. The most notable returning wide receivers the Browns have are Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz, and they also signed Jakeem Grant Sr. in free agency. None of those three are proven impact playmakers, though.
For the most part, Cleveland has an offense in place to have success, especially if Watson plays and excels. It also can rely heavily on its running game with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt back. But the team could use one more proven wide receiver to boost its passing attack.
Notable wide receivers such as Julio Jones and Emmanuel Sanders remain on the free-agent market. Maybe the Browns should even consider a reunion with Odell Beckham Jr. Regardless of who they sign, they could benefit from bringing one of these playmakers in.
The Browns have no concerns on the edges of their defensive line. Myles Garrett is one of the best pass-rushers in the league, while Jadeveon Clowney proved last season he can still play at a high level. The interior of the defensive front is a different story.
While Cleveland signed Taven Bryan in free agency and selected Perrion Winfrey in the fourth round of this year's draft, its roster is still lacking a big-time defensive tackle who can anchor the middle of the line. That would take a strong unit to another level, as that type of player would fit in well between Garrett and Clowney.
There's a chance some of the less proven defensive tackles on the Browns' roster emerge as strong players in 2022. But there's also the potential for their lack of depth to prove costly, especially if they get hit by injuries or inefficiency.
Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph are among the top defensive tackles who are still free agents, but there are others available on the market, too. Cleveland should consider signing one to strengthen the interior of its defensive line for the upcoming season.
Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin are the Browns' starting offensive tackles. But as the 2021 season proved, Cleveland will likely need others to fill in at times, and its depth should get tested on the ends of its O-line at times.
Last year, Wills and Conklin both had some struggles and dealt with injuries. In fact, Conklin is still on the mend, as he recovers from a torn patellar tendon. Chris Hubbard, one of the Browns' most versatile offensive linemen, has also recently been hurt, spending time on injured reserve each of the past two seasons.
What's going to happen this year if Cleveland can't rely on Wills and/or Conklin at any point? The team could be in some trouble. And it can never hurt to have some extra depth on the offensive front.
So the Browns could benefit from signing an experienced, reliable offensive lineman who can serve as a backup at both tackle spots. Because there will likely come a time when he could be thrust into action in 2022.