Free Agents Browns Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2021

Free Agents Browns Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    For the second offseason in a row, the Browns appear to have put together a stellar offseason. But there is still a lot of time left between now and when training camp starts in July. 

    The Browns were busy in early free agency adding the former Rams duo of Troy Hill and John Johnson III to the secondary. Then they doubled down on defense with Greg Newsome II and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the draft. 

    That's not even including Jadeveon Clowney, who will also come to Cleveland on a one-year deal. 

    After a breakout season last year and plenty of moves that should improve the team on paper, the Browns are a contender. 

    The moves might not be done yet either. According to Spotrac, the Browns have the seventh-most cap space in the league with $21.5 million. And while this roster has few holes, there are some places where depth would be welcome. 

    These players could provide some of that and are still on the market for one reason or another. 

CB Steven Nelson

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Steven Nelson was released by the Steelers just before the draft. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert maintained the move was made for salary-cap reasons, however, Nelson has made it clear he was never given the option to take a pay cut.

    That leaves a bit of room for speculation that there may have been some tension between Nelson and the organization. 

    The Browns don't have the ability to pay up for Nelson on a long-term deal, but if he's looking for a place he can play for one year while elevating his value to hit the market again in 2022, Cleveland should be on his shortlist. 

    The opportunity to play his old team twice may help sweeten the deal. 

    The Browns signed Troy Hill, but he figures to play in the slot. They drafted Newsome, but success is far from a guarantee for rookies at cornerback. Nelson would give them another option, and you can't really have too many coverage players against the top tier of the AFC which includes Buffalo and Kansas City.

    Nelson should be a hot commodity. He's only 28 years old and is one year removed from holding opposing passers to a 65.8 passer rating. A one-year pact in Cleveland could be mutually beneficial. 

Edge Everson Griffen

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Browns have already done a lot of work along the defensive line. They've added Takkarist McKinley and Jadeveon Clowney on the edge while adding a ton of defensive tackle candidates to replace the departed Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi on the interior. 

    Clowney is an excellent run defender but is light on pass-rush production. He had 11 combined quarterback hits, hurries and sacks in eight games last season with the Titans. McKinley is a low-floor high-ceiling signing. He has just 4.5 sacks over the last two seasons and only played in four games last year. 

    If the goal is to develop a deeper stable of pass-rushers to team with Myles Garrett that work still seems incomplete. Adding a veteran to the room like Everson Griffen would help. 

    At 33 years old, Griffen is one of the oldest pass-rushers in the league, but he showed he can still be effective in stops at Detroit and Dallas last season. He amassed six sacks and 23 total pressures.  

    Signing Griffen to a one-year deal close to the veteran's minimum gives the Browns another able pass-rusher and gives Griffen one more year on a contender. 

OG Trai Turner

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press

    The Browns had the best offensive line in football last season, according to Pro Football Focus. The whole starting unit returns, and Jedrick Wills should be even better in his second season. 

    It shouldn't come as a surprise the unit has been largely untouched in the offseason thus far. The team drafted James Hudson in the fourth round as a developmental tackle prospect, but there won't be much question about who will start. 

    These signings aren't about finding starters, though. They're about providing depth and covering for the worst-case scenario. Losing either Joel Bitonio or Wyatt Teller at guard would not be ideal. Signing Trai Turner would soften that potential blow, though. 

    Turner is a five-time Pro Bowler who struggled and only played nine games for the Chargers last season and posted an awful 34.2 grade from Pro Football Focus. 

    Maybe Turner is shot. Maybe he just needs a chance to regroup. If it's the latter, there's no better coach to do that with than Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan.