Andrew Berry got a jump on the 2023 offseason by signing pending free agent Jack Conklin to a 4-year extension.
But the Cleveland Browns have 25 other players with expiring contracts, including pending unrestricted and restricted free agents.
There are about 44 other contracts in play for next season, including players currently on injured reserve or with voided years.
Cleveland’s top 4 players account for 42% of the projected salary cap, including a considerable amount of rollover.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 26, 2022
And the players already listed under contract leave only about $4 million for the rest of the roster.
But Conklin’s extension probably improved the salary cap situation and Berry surely has other tricks up his sleeves.
One thing to consider is that besides Deshaun Watson’s $46 million, only 3 other players have any guaranteed money in 2024.
And those guarantees are worth just $3.4 million, plus whatever the Jack Conklin extension includes.
The complete list of #Browns players with guarantees in 2024:
– Watson $46m
– Newsome $2.4m
– Ward $1m
As always with GM Andrew Berry, he makes sure he maintains lots of roster flexibility pic.twitter.com/GmsWidpTE5
— Jack Duffin (@JackDuffin) December 17, 2022
Berry can backload extensions and free-agent contracts, and will undoubtedly ask some players to convert salary to cap-friendly bonuses.
But first, he wants to keep some pending free agents from hitting the market.
And maybe hope that, like Conklin, there is a little bit of home discount cooked into the results.
Here are the next 2 Browns players in line for an extension.
LB Anthony Walker- pending physical
Middle linebacker Anthony Walker suffered a torn quad tendon that required surgery and 5-7 months of recovery.
It took the Browns’ defense almost as long to recover from his loss.
Walker should be ready to go by preseason camp and is worth re-signing for the middle of the Cleveland defense.
#Browns LB Anthony Walker Jr. (#5) had an excellent game vs. NYJ against the pass. He led all defensive players with 2 pass deflections, and two coverage tackles. Walker has a 2-week PFF grade of 90.8 overall. Currently a top 5 coverage LB in the NFL.
— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) September 20, 2022
He was not only a tackling machine for the Browns, but he was apparently the glue that kept the others together.
Berry already has him on the books to the tune of $2.4 million in dead cap for 2023.
Converting that money to part of a cap-friendly bonus with a minimal salary equaling about $5 million should land Walker.
C Ethan Pocic- Sure Thing
Cleveland put a lot of trust in the young Nick Harris to improve his pass-blocking and augment a lateral running game.
Kevin Stefanski imaging Nick Chubb running outside the tackles behind his pulling center and guards.
But Andrew Berry wasted little time signing Ethan Pocic in free agency.
Watch #Browns C Ethan Pocic completely remove former Brown DT Larry Ogunjobi (#99) from the play. Excellent job of torquing upon initial contact, and then just driving him laterally out of the play.
— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) September 25, 2022
Pocic managed to rank in the upper half of NFL centers while playing in a bad offensive line in Seattle.
And plopping him between a pair of All-Pro guards let Pocic shine as a top-10 center.
Paying an extra million dollars or 2 to avoid losing Pocic in free agency is probably worth it.
Others To Consider
Andrew Berry’s first draft class is set to hit free agency in 2024.
Cleveland will decide on whether to accept Jedrick Wills’ fifth-year option before the 2023 kickoff.
But the team could consider extending other players early or risk losing them at the end of the season.
— Full Press NFL (@FullPressNFL) December 17, 2022
Donovan Peoples-Jones is one candidate for an early extension in the 3-4 year, $14-16 million per range.
If DPJ continues to develop and works well with Watson, such a deal will be a bargain before long.
Linebacker Deion Jones could be a reasonably priced Plan B or backup for Anthony Walker.