If one wide receiver was a lock to return to the Cleveland Browns roster in 2022, it was Anthony Schwartz.
Kevin Stefanski told us so before the team traded for Amari Cooper.
When the speedy Jakeem Grant signed on in free agency, the team emphasized his return role over his receiving potential.
Before the team drafted David Bell and Michael Woods Jr, we heard about Schwartz’s progress.
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 28, 2022
As late as OTAs, coaches spoke of Schwartz as a vital part of the offense.
Then the Browns started playing exhibition games in the preseason.
Weeks later, as final cuts loom, it is obvious the Browns have a wide receiver problem.
And we need to ask, “What should the Browns do with Anthony Schwartz?”
Popular Cry: Cut or Trade Schwartz
Cleveland Browns’ social media is rarely regarded as a place for respite or encouragement.
And Schwartz’s name is generally associated with trade or cut sentiments from even the most faithful dawgs.
But word leaked out from the organization that 6 drops in 3 games are not enough to threaten his roster spot.
Anthony Schwartz drops the first pass of the game, and #Browns fans react with a few scattered boos…
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) August 27, 2022
It is understandable that the team does not want to give up on the speedster too early.
But with Grant on the injured reserve, can they trust Schwartz to handle the defense-stretching deep role?
Why is he on the team if defensive backs don’t respect him enough to cheat safeties his way, and he can’t catch short passes?
Protect Schwartz On The Roster
In each of their first 2 seasons, Andrew Berry and Stefanski found spots for non-producing rookies.
Players not quite ready for NFL snaps spent a season growing mentally and physically where teams could not pluck them away.
It is possible Berry fears another team would pluck Schwartz off the Browns practice squad.
— Fred Greetham (@FredGreetham9) August 23, 2022
His speed, though not readily apparent to Browns fans yet, is a sought-after asset.
And another coach might be confident about fixing Schwartz’s hands and the mental block he has about receiving.
But hiding a player for 2 seasons without a role is quite a commitment, especially if a more productive receiver is sacrificed.
Pick His Spots on Gameday
Cleveland threw a whole lot of players under kickoffs and punts during the preseason.
There is no clear winner in that competition, which might offer a role to Schwartz.
He did not impress much last season, but speed always offers a chance for a big play.
Maybe I'm a little too nice, but I'm not ready to give up on Anthony Schwartz for the #Browns. Still has the rare speed, but needs to find a way to become tougher mentally. He's still a project and it might be too early to give up on him.
— Tim Bielik (@timbielik) August 28, 2022
And as last season wore down, Schwartz showed more willingness to engage opponents physically.
Removing the fear of contact is half the battle for return men.
And in between kicks, he can take a few 2nd-and short targets to work his way back into the offense.
Most Likely Option: Throw Him Into The Fray
Kevin Stefanski earned his reputation as a stubborn follower of his own ideas.
He believes Schwartz’s speed is a weapon to be exploited.
If defenses don’t double him up early in the season or let him slip uncovered into the flat, that is okay.
— Ed_in_Columbus (@ed_in_columbus) June 3, 2022
Because eventually, Schwartz will work his way out of this slump and start making opponents pay for such disrespect.
And that in turn will open up the rest of the offense for the Coopers, Njokus, and Chubbs of the team.
The question is how many games will Cleveland give Schwartz to make Stefanski’s vision a reality?