After an amazing season, the Cleveland Browns head into the off-season with plenty of momentum going into 2021.
The AFC North is priming up to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL going forward, but the Browns are primed to become one of the top young teams in the NFL.
The Browns are going into 2021 with around $36 million in cap space, which is tops in the NFL.
Here are three free agents the Browns should target going into 2021.
1. Justin Simmons
I’ve written about the man before, and I’ll continue to do so.
Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos is the man the Browns should sign to improve their defensive backfield.
At only 28 years old, he is one of the top free safeties in the NFL right now.
During the 2020 season, Simmons notched 5 interceptions and 90 tackles, garnering a Pro Bowl nod.
Justin Simmons' fourth INT of the season is a CLUTCH one. #BroncosCountry
— NFL (@NFL) November 23, 2020
The Broncos will be looking to retain his services, but the Browns can offer more to Simmons in terms of compensation.
The defensive backfield was an Achilles’ Heel for the Browns in the 2020 season, but that doesn’t mean the Browns should expend all their salary cap space on the unit.
Adding Simmons to a healthy Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit could turn the Browns’ defensive backfield from a liability to a strength in 2021.
2. Bud Dupree
The Browns need to be able to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks outside of Myles Garrett.
The Steelers Bud Dupree could be that guy.
While he sustained an ACL injury in the 12th game of the year, this shouldn’t keep teams from competing for his attention.
Bud Dupree is different pic.twitter.com/kw09LWn8h3
— Football Is Life (@FootbaIl_Tweets) January 16, 2021
Before his injury, Dupree notched 31 tackles, 8 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, and 15 QB hits.
With Olivier Vernon becoming a free agent this offseason, Dupree would be a perfect target for the Browns.
It would add that extra pressure off the edge, as well as taking a weapon away from a divisional opponent and hated rival.
3. Shaquil Barrett
The Browns need for a sideline to sideline linebacker was apparent throughout the entire season.
They were easily beaten up the middle on the ground, and tight ends gave Browns LBs fits all season.
Shaquil Barrett could be that guy.
While currently with Tampa Bay, he becomes an unrestricted free agent when the Bucs finish up their season.
During the regular season, Barrett had 57 tackles combined, 8 sacks, and a safety.
1. T.J. Watt – 49
2. Joey Bosa – 37
t3. Aaron Donald – 34
t3. Chris Jones – 34
5. Shaquil Barrett – 32
— ProFootballReference (@pfref) December 13, 2020
This was a season after Barrett racked up 19.5 sacks, so there is plenty of potential for a higher output.
He would be a great complement to Myles Garrett, as well as someone with the speed to keep up with opposing tight ends.
All three of these players can command around $15 million+ per season, so it would be great to see the Browns sign one, but not all.
The Browns offense doesn’t need a lot of work going forward, but it would be wise of the front office to invest heavily in the defense.
A smart offseason by Andrew Berry and Co. can put the Browns back into the thick of the playoff hunt next season and beyond.