Today marks the beginning of the NFL free agency season. Starting at 4 o’clock today, teams are allowed to sign unrestricted free agents, or at least make them an offer. The Cleveland Browns have the money to spend and the position needs to make it a very interesting day. The Browns’ cap space is around $50 million, and although they don’t want to spend it all, they need to address a couple of needs. Here is a look at the different positions and the free agents that could fill them.
The most important need is to resign center Alex Mack. Mack is a two time Pro Bowler and has even scored a touchdown in the Pro Bowl. Mack has started every game in Cleveland since being drafted in 2009. With free agency looming, the Cleveland Browns placed the Transition Tag on Mack, making it difficult for other teams to sign him. Mack’s agent has recently came out and said he is trying to come up with a deal that the Browns won’t be able to match. Hopefully this is all a smoke screen to make the Browns give more, which they should.
The next move would be to let TJ Ward walk and sign Donte Whitner. Whitner is one of the top Free Safeties out there and comes from the winning 49ers organization. Whitner was ranked as the third ranked safety behind Byrd and Ward. Whitner has a similar style of hard hitting like Ward and could emerge as a leader with 9 years experience. Whitner is also a hometown kid who went to Glenville HS in Cleveland and Ohio State. Whitner has said that it would be a dream to play in Cleveland.
The next move would be to find an experienced wide receiver to complement Josh Gordon. With the Browns only having four wide outs left on their roster, they need to get some leadership at the position from a veteran. Julian Edelman’s name has been thrown out there, but the Patriots are trying hard to resign him. Another name that has come up has been Emmanuel Sanders. This could be a good grab in more than one way because the Browns will be able to steal him from their rivals, the Steelers.
With speculation that Cleveland is going to cut Weeden and Campbell, they will need to get at least one veteran quarterback during free agency. Recent reports have Matt Schaub in the mix for that job. Schaub did not have a stellar last year in Houston, but knows the offense that Kyle Shanahan is bringing to Cleveland. Other candidates are Rex Grossman or Josh McCown. Any of these guys will bring experience and will challenge Hoyer and whoever the Browns draft.
The Browns also will look at the linebacker position in this free agency. Cleveland is looking very hard at Karlos Dansby from Arizona. Dansby is coming off a good season and the Browns look to replace D’Qwell Jackson. Although the Browns could get someone in the draft, free agency may be a more guarantee of getting a linebacker that has already proven to be good.
The other big area that the Browns need is running back. The Browns traded away Trent Richardson last year and look to add some more young help in the draft. The Browns should stay away from top names and focus on someone that can just be plugged in. A bigger back like a Donald Brown or Darren McFadden could be a way of not spending too much money, but still have some upside on them.
The madness doesn’t start for almost another few hours, so wait for some more news to come out before then. The Browns have a great opportunity to turn this franchise around, and free agency could help fill some minor holes that the draft may not be able to fill. Look for the Browns to make a huge impact fast tonight.