And Jim Schwartz’s defense will look nothing like his predecessor’s passive zone strategy.
After a pair of losing seasons, fans aren’t waxing nostalgic about the old game plans.
Cleveland’s new upbeat offense and pressure defense mean a lot of roster changes could be in store.
And most of the Browns’ 22 free agents are not likely to come back.
But the team gets the first shot at re-signing the players, and a few might return to Northern Ohio.
Anthony Walker should be a priority, assuming his torn quad heals well and in time.
Here are two other free agents who could return to the Browns in 2023.
1. Center Ethan Pocic
After a few under-the-radar seasons in Seattle, Ethan Pocic emerged as a quality center.
According to PFF, Pocic will be the top center in free agency and should be paid as such.
That could price out the Browns, who already have $44 million allotted to their starting guards and tackles in 2023.
But Andrew Berry is a master of salary cap management and has relatively few guaranteed contracts in 2024.
The #Browns are very open to bringing back center Ethan Pocic, who’s set to hit the open market in March, as Mary Kay Cabot reported. Pocic stepped in as the starter during the preseason when Nick Harris went down with a season-ending injury.
— Noah Weiskopf (@BrownsWithNoah) January 24, 2023
Pocic could earn a few backloaded years with a minimum salary and a good signing bonus for his first season.
Especially if Berry anticipates a newly drafted left tackle coming into play in 2024, he has the flexibility to pay Pocic.
There isn’t much analytics needed to see how much better the offense played with Pocic in the middle.
2. Defensive Tackle Taven Bryan
Berry signed Taven Bryan to bolster the team’s inside pass rush.
And as little as an impact that he made, he could find himself back in Cleveland next year.
If it works out that way, there will be a lot of unfamiliar faces around him.
#Browns use a rare 3-down front and bring rushers 4&5 off the edge from a little depth. Rattles the opposing Q. He has the over route after clearing the hook defender but sails it. Great catch by Delpit. Excellent interior bull rush from Taven Bryan. pic.twitter.com/zJ8S5mKaKe
— OBR Film Breakdown (@TheOBRFilmBDN) September 12, 2022
But the key for Bryan is the quality of the replacements coming in via the draft and free agency.
Bryan is not a premier pass rusher or cut out to be the defensive line’s biggest threat.
He is, however, good enough to make an impact with better players around him.
It should not surprise fans to see him on the roster as the third man in the middle rotation.