After a strong 2020 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns are ready to tackle free agency again.
The Browns’ main need is linebacker.
During the offseason, the Browns hired former Cowboys linebackers coach Ben Bloom.
Bloom returns to the Browns as a senior defensive assistant.
In 2009, Bloom began his NFL coaching career with Cleveland.
It is safe to assume Bloom is hoping the team signs or acquires a linebacker soon to help sure up the team’s defense.
Meanwhile, there are better players on the market ahead of the available linebackers.
Here are the top five free agents for the Browns:
1. Jadeveon Clowney
The second-highest ranked player on the Pro Football Focus’s top 50 remaining free agents is three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
The Browns are in the mix for the former Houston Texan and Seattle Seahawk, who has been ranked in the NFL’s Top 100 each of the last three years.
From @SportsCenter with @JayHarrisESPN: Source close to Cam Newton says QB willing to stay patient, possibly until after draft and beyond to find right fit; Jadeveon Clowney still considering shorter term deals. pic.twitter.com/9gq89xgZ4m
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 9, 2020
The first overall draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is not likely to re-sign with the Seahawks after having a career-low three sacks in 13 games last season.
On the bright side, Clowney amassed 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits, and nine solo tackles in the 2019 playoffs.
He would be an important asset to the Browns in 2020.
2. Logan Ryan
In terms of secondary help, the Browns cannot do any better than former New England Patriot and Tennessee Titan Logan Ryan:
#Titans Logan Ryan caused 40 defensive stops in 2019; 7 more than any other CB 😤 pic.twitter.com/71kj0mYq7b
— PFF TEN Titans (@PFF_Titans) February 29, 2020
The two-time Super Bowl champion has surprisingly never been to a Pro Bowl.
As he heads into his eighth NFL season, he should have a chance at his first appearance soon.
3. Tramon Williams
Tramon Williams began his career with the Green Bay Packers.
In 2015, he signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Browns before they cut him in 2017.
The Super Bowl XLV champion and 2010 Pro Bowler has since bounced back in his second stint with the Packers:
Williams posted his 4th highest defensive grade (75.1) for a regular season in 2019 to go with his 2nd best coverage grade (82.2) of career. #Packers https://t.co/cwnQWbhLDn
— PFF GB Packers (@PFF_Packers) April 20, 2020
Williams recently turned 37 years old, but he could be helpful to the Browns secondary.
4. Markus Golden
.@Giants Bring back Markus Golden (@markusgolden)… Can’t forget him now…#GiantsPride
🗣 MARKUS GOLDEN on the mic 🎙 pic.twitter.com/N7SS3U48Rp
— Expected Ones’ SportsTalk (@ExpectedSports) March 24, 2020
Although Giants fans may want Markus Golden back with “Big Blue,” the Browns could swipe in and grab him because the Browns are badly in the need of a linebacker.
Golden, who had 10 sacks last year, is a St. Louis native and was the No. 58 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Missouri.
He has an interesting contract situation, as teams other than the Giants have the chance to sign him until July 22.
If not, the Giants retain Golden for the upcoming season.
5. Clay Matthews III
Although Clay Matthews III is ranked 40th overall in Pro Football Focus’s remaining free agent list, the linebacker could be useful for the Browns.
The Los Angeles Rams decided to release the Super Bowl XLV champion with one year left on his contract.
The 11-year veteran has not been to the Pro Bowl since 2015 though.
He may not be able to make the on-field impact that he did in the past.
However, Matthews could help the locker room be more motivated this season:
The #Browns could potentially bring in Linebacker, Clay Matthews III.
1. Situational Rusher. LB Depth
3. Leadership in the Locker Room
4. Veteran presence in the LB group. (Avg age among LBs is 24.2 yrs)
Would you like to see Clay Matthews III as a Brown this year? pic.twitter.com/cq9pIykcqP
— The Hottest Take Sports Podcast (@Hottest_TakePod) May 4, 2020
Matthews could have a cheaper contract than Golden and with many great off-the-field attributes in Matthews’ favor, the Browns may be better off going with the veteran.
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