3 Players That Browns Must Consider Trading for at 2021 NFL Trade Deadline
The Cleveland Browns headed into the 2021 season as the most hyped iteration of the team since the franchise returned to the league in 1999. This year has been a living example of how difficult success is to sustain in the NFL.
That isn't to say this season is over. The Browns are still in the playoff race and remain a player in the AFC North race.
However, their depth continues to be tested all over the field. There are few position groups on the roster that haven't been impacted by injuries. From the offensive line, to the secondary to quarterback, there are injuries that have pressed backups into the lineup and could continue to be an issue moving forward.
There are still options for the team to address those needs. Free agency remains an option, but the ability to trade with other teams is dwindling. With the Nov. 2 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Browns are running out of time to make a move that could help them reach their potential this season.
Should general manager Andrew Berry decide to make a move, here are three players who would be worth targeting based on what the team needs and who could be available.
DL L.J. Collier, Seattle Seahawks
One pleasant surprise for the Browns this season has been the play of defensive lineman Malik McDowell.
The Browns gave the former Seattle Seahawks second-round pick an opportunity, and he has responded by giving them solid production on the interior. They could have another situation where they help a former high draft pick of the Seahawks find success in L.J. Collier.
Collier was a first-round pick by the team in 2019, but he has failed to live up to that billing. Starting all 16 games last season he tallied three sacks and seven quarterback hits.
Now, he is among the names that Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has reported could be on the move at the deadline.
When it comes to edge-rushers the Browns are still fairly thin. Myles Garrett is one of the best in the league, and Jadeveon Clowney has been a good running mate. Takkarist McKinley has chipped in 1.5 sacks, but the options are sparse after that.
With Clowney's injury history and the need for a rotation at the position, the Browns could do worse than taking a flier on Collier.
While he isn't the flashiest pass-rusher, he could offer a solid fourth option and also kick inside given his 291-pound frame.
OT Ty Nsekhe, Dallas Cowboys
There are few teams in the NFL who actually have a surplus of high-caliber tackles, but the Dallas Cowboys qualify.
Conversely, the Browns' need for a high-quality swing tackle only continues to grow. Both Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin have missed games at left and right tackle, respectively. Chris Hubbard, the team's swing tackle at the beginning of the season, is out for the year with a tricep injury.
The team has had to turn to Blake Hance and rookie James Hudson III. Hance was a great story last year playing in the playoffs despite not meeting Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski in person before the game.
Hudson is a good project at tackle. Neither is a good answer if Conklin or Wills misses any more time, especially in the playoffs.
Nsekhe is in the twilight of his career at 36 years old, but he has carved out a nice role as a backup tackle. Through various runs in Buffalo and Dallas, he has only allowed one sack over the last four years, per PFF.
The Browns are a team that relies on having a great offensive line. Nsekhe would raise the floor of the unit and provide a little more insurance for their tackles who can't seem to get healthy.
S Marcus Maye, New York Jets
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods loves to get multiple safeties on the field to play dime and nickel personnel packages. In today's climate, that's not all that surprising.
That's why it isn't surprising the Browns have spent a lot of resources to put together a good group of safeties. They traded for Ronnie Harrison at the deadline last season, signed John Johnson III in free agency, drafted Grant Delpit in the second round in 2020 and Richard LeCounte in the fifth round this year.
Yet, the Browns secondary surrenders far too many big plays. According to Next Gen Stats (h/t Lindsey Thiry of ESPN), there was at least five yards of separation on each of the touchdown passes the team gave up to the Chargers in Week 5.
That's just one example, but it's endemic of an issue the Browns have had all season.
While Johnson and Harrison have struggled, Delpit has suffered serious growing pains. He's giving up a perfect 158.3 passer rating and has missed 23.5 percent of his tackles.
Marcus Maye's contract is set to expire with the Jets and despite having an extra year to negotiate a deal while he plays on the franchise tag, the Jets have been unable to re-sign him.
Perhaps that opens the door for the Browns to audition him for the second half of the season and see how he fits into the scheme.
All statistics and snap counts via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.