With Super Bowl LVI in the rearview mirror, it’s time to unofficially start the 2022 NFL season.
The Cleveland Browns want to regain their status as Ohio’s most likely first Super Bowl champion.
And Andrew Berry’s scouts and talent evaluators are comparing notes on NFL Draft-eligible players.
— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) January 10, 2022
But first, they get a shot at signing free agents away from other teams.
And what better place to look for good players than the conference champions?
Here are three Super Bowl free agents that could interest the Browns.
From Cincinnati: B.J. Hill, DT
Some Browns fans still lament the departure of Larry Ogunjobi last season.
But Andrew Berry is more likely to consider another young lineman from the Bengals’ roster.
B.J. Hill jumped onto the scene with a 5.5-sack, all-rookie team performance for the NY Giants in 2018.
Iron head B.J. Hill stuns the LG at the POA before finishing with the pull through & swim for the sack pic.twitter.com/auTS6d5CZl
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 17, 2021
Then he got buried in the depth chart for 2 seasons before a trade sent him to the 2021 AFC Champions.
Hill bounced back with another 5.5 sacks playing mostly from the inside of Cincinnati’s defensive line.
But he offers enough speed to rush outside and the power to disrupt the interior for a team in need of DL help.
From Los Angeles: Matt Gay, K
Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson wasn’t the only kicker providing reliable scoring for a Super Bowl team.
Matt Gay hit 32 of his 34 field goal attempts in 2021, including 4 out of 5 from over 50 yards.
He missed one extra point out of 49 attempts for an overall success rate of 96-percent.
Matt Gay from 55. Plenty of leg. pic.twitter.com/GIPoqwSKMz
— Jared Smith (@jaredleesmith) February 13, 2022
It was a performance that earned him a Pro Bowl nod in just his third NFL season.
Los Angeles has a promising, strong-legged rookie behind Gay in Ryan Santoso.
Andrew Berry might be able to sign Gay while the Rams grapple with a roster set for much turnover.
From Cincinnati: C.J. Uzomah, TE
Cleveland’s tight end room might look very familiar in 2022.
Cincinnati almost has to make a play to retain C.J. Uzomah, their only real pass-catching threat at tight end.
Joe Burrow to C.J. Uzomah was a 55-yard touchdownpic.twitter.com/V42yLqqO2m
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 24, 2021
But they may balk at the $8-9 million projected price tag for their former starter.
Cleveland could sign Njoku and Uzomah for about $8 million each and save money by releasing Hooper.
Along with Bryant, they can lock up a solid tight end group for the next 3 seasons.
Thin Pickings from Super Bowl Teams
Los Angeles could find itself replacing several retiring veterans after winning the Super Bowl.
But for a team with a tight salary cap, they only have a few key free agents to lose.
JESSIE BATES INTERCEPTS STAFFORD IN THE END ZONE 🍿
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 14, 2022
Cincinnati free safety Jessie Bates will draw the most interest from the Bengals’ pending free agents.
But with John Johnson III on board for 2 more seasons, Bates is not going to find a spot with the Browns.
And nobody else from either Super Bowl team is going to elicit strong looks from Berry’s team.