Free-Agent Contracts Browns Must Consider Before Training Camp

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2021

Free-Agent Contracts Browns Must Consider Before Training Camp

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns learned in 2020 just how thin the margin of error is on the road to the Super Bowl. 

    The Kansas City Chiefs ultimately won the AFC for a second consecutive season, but things could have been different if the Browns had held firm on a fourth-and-one in which Chad Henne ran for a first down in their divisional-round matchup.

    With that in mind, every player and rotation on the roster matters. The Browns already have a Super Bowl-contending roster in place but so did the Bucs when they signed Leonard Fournette last September. 

    As the team looks to put everything it can toward getting to the big game in the final year of Baker Mayfield's rookie contract, here are a few veterans they could look to sign with the $19.6 million in cap space they have. 

Edge Justin Houston

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    There are two things you can never have too many of in the NFL: Good cornerbacks and guys who can get after the quarterback. Justin Houston falls into the latter category. 

    The Georgia product is familiar with playing an important role on AFC playoff teams. He has played in the playoffs in six of his 10 career seasons, notching 4.5 sacks in eight postseason games. Houston is north of 30 (he turned 32 in January) which could explain the fact that he remains unsigned. 

    It isn't from a lack of interest, though. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Houston will play in 2021 but has turned down multiple offers from teams. 

    The Browns signed Jadeveon Clowney and Takkarist McKinley this offseason, but it never hurts to add another threat. Houston's eight sacks last season show that he can still put pressure on quarterbacks and would make a strong addition to any contender. 

CB Nickell Robey-Coleman

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    The Browns' group of cornerbacks is already set to look vastly different than last season. They signed Troy Hill, drafted Greg Newsome II and will get Greedy Williams back after an injury took him out last season. 

    But there's always room for guys who can cover. Newsome and Williams obviously have massive potential but neither is proven. It's possible one or both of them struggle out the gate. This team has too much potential to wait for cornerbacks to develop throughout the season. 

    That's where a veteran could come in and contribute right away. 

    Nickell Robey-Coleman is one of the best corners left on the market after Steven Nelson signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Robey-Coleman struggled in Philadelphia last season, but the Eagles were a mess so that could have contributed. With the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, he broke up seven passes and gave up just 5.7 yards per target. 

    The 29-year-old works best in the slot, so he could become the nickel if Hill is forced to play outside; or he could be the dime back in four-corner personnel packages. 

OT Dennis Kelly

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    The Browns have a strong case for the best offensive line in the NFL. If Jedrick Wills improves upon a promising rookie campaign, they have elite options at all five spots. The unfortunate reality is that all five of those guys aren't likely to start all 17 games. 

    Last season, Chris Hubbard was key in helping out when that happened. He ended up making five starts and was able to fill in at guard and tackle when needed. 

    Unfortunately, the 30-year-old suffered a serious knee injury in December that required knee surgery. Thus, he's a question mark heading into camp. 

    The Browns did some things to bring in developmental prospects. They used a fourth-round pick on James Hudson, but counting on a fourth-round pick to play tackle right away is dangerous. 

    Adding someone like Dennis Kelly gives them an experienced option who won't kill them in case of an injury.


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