For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the Cleveland Browns ended their season with plenty of optimism. Rookie of the Year winner Baker Mayfield put on a performance Cleveland hasn’t seen from a star rookie since LeBron James. He helped change an environment and a city. So were does the team go on from here? Let’s make a check list:
Functional front office with football minds- check
New head coach- check
Quarterback- wait . . . Let’s see if we still feeling dangerous. . . . . Ok, check!
The only thing left to do now is improve this team through free agency and the draft. There are much less needs than last year, but some critical positions need addressed if the Browns have any chance at making the postseason next year.
GET A DAMN KICKER!!!
It took 30 different starting quarterbacks for the Browns to find their guy. Let’s not let the same thing happen to the kicker position. Since Joe Banner let Phil Dawson walk in 2013, the Browns have not had a reliable kicker. It was a rough year for kickers overall in the NFL, but that shouldn’t mean the Browns should over look the position. If they had a solid kicker all season they may have made the playoffs. Dorsey filled the quarterback hole. Now it’s time to fill this one. Even if it means signing one of Haslam’s players from the Columbus Crew.
Get another stud receiver
The group consisting Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Rashard Higgins, and Bradshad Perriman is a solid receiving core. However, injuries happen and if you can do better, you do better. I say give Baker a group that gives defenses headaches. I like to reflect back to the 3 Super Bowls that Kurt Warner was in. How did he get there? One of the big reasons is that he was LOADED with receiving talent. Get another guy opposite of Landry. Either in free agency or early in the draft. The Antonio Brown fantasy is nice but it’s unrealistic. Pittsburgh won’t give their arch rival the best receiver in the game.
Offensive line depth
Browns o-line was solid this season but could use a tune up. The interior headlined by Kevin Zeitler, JC Tretter, and pro bowler Joel Bitonio was one of the best in the league. They’re looking to sign left tackle Greg Robinson to a new contract and Chris Hubbard was decent at right tackle. You need to make sure Baker is protected at all times. I say get a prospect back up center, continue to develop Austin Corbett, and draft a few tackles. They have plenty of picks and its a good o-line class. Take advantage of it.
Tyrod Taylor will be testing free agency which leaves the second quarterback spot open. Good news is that saves Cleveland $15 million on the salary cap. The last thing Freddie Kitchens needs is to loose Baker for a period time and without a reliable back up. The Eagles were prepared a season ago and their back up delivered a championship. I am not huge on Drew Stanton. I say get a veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick and draft one in the mid to late rounds. Be prepared for anything.
Browns defensive line was their best in several years. Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi lead the pack with sacks (19 combines). But Emmanuel Ogbah’s injury problems continued and Browns couldn’t any consistency from their other defensive tackles. It would be HUGE for the team to add a playmaker in the middle of that line. Look how much help Ndamukong Suh was to Aaron Donald. The upcoming draft has plenty of quality defensive tackle talent. Only time will tell if 3rd round pick Chad Thomas can be a factor at the end of the line. It wouldn’t hurt to look at any other options just in case Ogbah’s injuries persist.
More depth at defensive back
Before John Dorsey joined the Browns, the team would consistently go into training camp with a lack of depth with defensive backs. Injuries to starters led to more problems on the field. But last year Dorsey loaded up on defensive back talent, and we saw a big differnce. The secondary unit struggled near the end of the season when Terrence Mitchell, E.J. Gains, and Denzel Ward were ailing injuries. One of the factors in their loss to the Raiders was serious fatigue late in the game due to lack of substitutes. Fortunately for Cleveland, Damrious Randall and Jabrill Peppers were healthy most of the season. But that may not be the story next season. Dorsey may need to load up the back field again to help improve the defense. I wouldn’t be against adding a stud corner back to play opposite of Ward, and having Mitchell and Carrie as the backups. It would be similar to when Broncos signed Aqib Talib to put opposite of Chris Harris, which helped them win a Super Bowl a year later. Browns got the money to spend and could use it to make their secondary deadly.
Great Lakes Brewery coolers in case of Super Bowl victory.
I’m not jumping the gun and saying the Browns will be Super Bowl champs next year. But, if hell freezes over and it does happen we need to be prepared, right? The Bud Light victory fridges were hit after the Browns first win in over a year. So wouldn’t it be fitting to have a free Cleveland craft beer giveaway if they won it all? After all the years of turmoil the fans would deserve a chance to slam some brews on the greatest night of their lives. Let’s make it happen. GO BROWNS!!!