The Cleveland Browns have had one of the busiest offseason, but the transactions prove they are taking a gamble too.
Since free agency started, the Browns wanted to support quarterback Baker Mayfield with weapons to revive an offense that ranked 22nd in yards per game.
GM Andrew Berry struck fast by signing Austin Hooper to a franchise-record $63 million while adding pieces in right tackle Jack Conklin and backup quarterback Case Keenum.
Ever since that day, the Browns’ priorities quickly turned to heal a depleted defense, which also ranked 22nd in the league.
However, the Browns are completing this project with a surplus of one-year contracts.
The #Browns have now signed TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, QB Case Keenum, SS Karl Joseph, LB BJ Goodson and DT Andrew Billings. Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski are filling holes piece by piece and crushing free agency so far.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) March 19, 2020
Taking A Look At Who’s Here
In the last two weeks, the Browns have added a slew of veterans for the defense.
This includes safeties Andrew Sendejo and Karl Joseph, cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Donovan Olumba, linebacker B.J. Goodson, defensive tackle Andrew Billings, and defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
Out of this group, only Clayborn and Olumba were given two-year contracts, while the rest of everyone signed a one-year deal.
The Division Of Playing Time
The two safeties in Joseph and Sendejo will likely start.
Even with Damarious Randall leaving for the Oakland Raiders, the position was slim at depth anyways.
Shortest guy on the field. Karl Joseph GETS UP to prevent TD! Raiders hold Titans to a field goal. pic.twitter.com/ioM2y4vIoY
— Raider Nation Boston (@RaiderNationBOS) September 10, 2017
Billings and Clayborn will be in the rotation at the defensive line, while Johnson and Goodson will play a role.
That role just hasn’t been decided yet, but both have opportunities to start.
Given how their production will be key, it’s wild to think about how many “prove it” contracts were hashed out.
That certainly produces the idea that the Browns are gambling on these one-year contracts to pan out.
The Long Term Fit
Realistically, what else could go wrong?
The Browns are suffering a 17-year playoff drought.
By signing all these veterans to one-year deals, the new Browns regime is likely attempting to determine which members are a long-term fit.
Without holding themselves to a long-term financial commitment, younger players such as Sheldrick Redwine, Mack Wilson, and Sione Takitaki can prove their worth on the field too.
Another important idea to remember is that the Browns could cash in on compensatory picks.
According to the new CBA, free agents who sign one-year deals that also make at least $1.75 million, will factor into the gains in the losses in the compensatory draft pick formula.
Only return man JoJo Natson is paid less than the $1.75 million cutoff.
When defensive end Myles Garrett went down with an injury, the defense collapsed.
In order to snap the playoff drought, the Browns had to add some sort of improvement to the team.
These new additions give the Browns a chance to compete, but also retool their future.
It looks like Berry and new head coach Kevin Stefanski are here to stay.