Browns Rumors: Latest Buzz, Players to Watch at Mandatory Minicamp

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIJune 6, 2022

Browns Rumors: Latest Buzz, Players to Watch at Mandatory Minicamp

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    There's a little more than three months until the 2022 NFL season, and the Cleveland Browns are hoping it will be a bounce-back year. After ending a 17-year playoff drought in 2020—and winning their first postseason game since the franchise returned to the league in 1999—the Browns took a step back and went 8-9 in 2021.

    Cleveland has made plenty of changes this offseason, most notably on offense. It traded for both quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Amari Cooper—the latter will be the clear No. 1 pass-catcher with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry gone. It also means Baker Mayfield's time as the franchise QB has ended.

    The Browns have been holding OTAs in recent weeks, and they have more taking place this week, running from Monday to Thursday. However, their first mandatory minicamp won't happen until later this month.

    As Cleveland's players get back on the practice fields, here's a look at the upcoming schedule, the latest buzz surrounding the team and several players to watch during June.

Upcoming Schedule

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    OTA offseason workouts: June 6-9

    Mandatory minicamp: June 14-16

    Training camp: TBA in July

    Preseason opener: Aug. 12

    Regular season opener: Sept. 11

Latest Buzz

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    Even though the Browns traded for Watson, Mayfield remains on their roster. There have been plenty of trade rumors surrounding the 27-year-old, but nothing has materialized. Despite that, it doesn't appear Cleveland is willing to just cut ties with him.

    Mary Kay Cabot of recently reported that the Browns "have no plans to cut Mayfield, even if he's still on the roster at the start of training camp in July." Mayfield hasn't been attending OTAs, but no decision has been made regarding whether he'll be at mandatory minicamp, according to Cabot, who noted the quarterback would lose "about $95,000 for the three days."

    Mayfield is set to make $18.858 million during the 2022 season, which is the final year of his contract. It's unknown how much of that salary another team would be willing to pick up in order to acquire him.

    Meanwhile, Cleveland doesn't have much experience on its depth chart at wide receiver beyond Cooper. However, Cabot reported that the Browns are happy with the group and that they "don't feel compelled to add a bona fide No. 2 just for the sake of it."

    One offensive position in which Cleveland has plenty of depth is at running back. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are back, while D'Ernest Johnson signed a one-year, $2.4 million contract over the weekend to return. The Browns also took Cincinnati running back Jerome Ford in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft.

    Hunt is set to make $6.25 million in 2022, the final year of his contract, but it seems Cleveland isn't considering parting with the 26-year-old despite having so many options in the backfield. Cabot noted that Hunt and the Browns "haven't engaged in substantive extension talks, but he's not in jeopardy of being the odd man out."

    In fact, Cabot reported that Chubb and Hunt could be on the field at the same time more this upcoming season. So that could take the Browns' two-headed rushing attack to another level.

    It's possible that Cleveland may not be done making moves. The team recently re-signed defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but it could still get better at defensive tackle. And despite Cabot's report, maybe the Browns will change their mind and decide they could use some more depth at receiver.

    But for now, Cleveland's roster should be in decent shape and the team could improve in 2022.

3 Players to Watch

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    QB Deshaun Watson

    It's always important to see how a new quarterback connects with the other players on an offense, but that will especially be the case with Watson. The 26-year-old didn't play during the 2021 season amid sexual misconduct allegations, a situation that is still ongoing, so it's been a while since he's had game experience.

    Watson, who has been participating in OTAs, was one of the league's top quarterbacks while making three straight Pro Bowls from 2018-20. Does he have the talent around him in Cleveland to have that kind of success? He could, especially if he elevates the play of some of the Browns' inexperienced receivers.


    WR David Bell

    Because Cleveland doesn't have many proven receivers other than Cooper, the rookie Bell could immediately play a big role in the offense. Dan Labbe of noted that Bell has been the primary slot receiver during OTAs, so he could have plenty of passes coming his way in 2022.

    Bell, a third-round draft pick out of Purdue, is 6'2" and had a lot of success during his three-year college career at Purdue. If he impresses throughout the summer, it wouldn't be surprising to see him earn a starting role for Week 1.


    CB Greg Newsome II

    A first-round draft pick in 2021, Newsome could take another big step forward during his sophomore season. Labbe reported that the 22-year-old cornerback has been getting work both outside and in the slot, so that versatility could be useful for the Browns' secondary.

    But if Newsome struggles in one spot and ends up playing exclusively in the other, it could impact which defensive backs make Cleveland's roster and who doesn't. So there's plenty of intrigue surrounding Newsome this summer.