Free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft have come and gone, but with Training Camp approximately two months away, it doesn’t mean General Manager Andrew Berry and the Browns brass have to stop adding talent. There’s still holes to fill on the roster, and a lot of veteran talent available in free agency to fill said holes.
Let’s take a look at five players the Browns could still knab in free agency.
The former No. 1 pick signed a one-year contract with the Browns last offseason, and he was nothing short of phenomenal for the Browns defensive line rotation. He compiled nine sacks during the 2021 campaign and provided a legitimate threat on the opposite side of Myles Garrett, giving both pass rushers more one-on-one opportunities. Most importantly in my estimation, Clowney played 14 out of 17 games last season for the Browns. Two of those games missed were due to COVID. The 14 games played were the most played for him since the 2018 season. The Browns took a risk on Clowney due to his injury history in 2021, and it paid off.
As long as he stays healthy, it’s a no-brainer to bring Clowney back into the fold, considering the youth the Browns have at the defensive end position outside of Garrett. Perrion Winfrey is going to be a stud and is one of the steals of the draft, but he’s going to be inside at defensive tackle. Alex Wright has potential, but he’s not ready yet to be an every down player. Chase Winovich is more of a third down pass rusher than a three-down rusher. Clowney is not only wanted back in the 216, he’s needed.
The Browns could have had Julio Jones back in 2011. Instead, they traded down from their No. 6 spot with the Atlanta Falcons down to No. 27. They also received the Falcons 2011 second and fourth-round picks, and their first and fourth-round selections in 2012. The Browns ended up moving six spots in the 2011 draft from 27 to 21.
What the deal ended up becoming was Jones (who has racked up seven Pro Bowl’s throughout his career, and at one time was viewed as the game’s best wideout) for Phil Taylor, Greg Little, and Owen Marecic. Safe to say Atlanta won that deal!
While Jones may not be the guy he was for the “Dirty Birds” anymore (he only played in 10 games last year for Tennessee, notching 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown), the 33-year-old and 6’3 target would present a veteran, big body guy for the Browns young receiving room.
It’s no secret I believe the Browns need to upgrade their receiving room, but if Berry does not want to go after an older Jones, Fuller seems like a perfect fit. At only 28-years-old, the former Texan has chemistry with new signal caller Deshaun Watson, and he has great speed for a 6’1 receiver. He has missed time with injuries during his seven year career, and he was suspended for Performance Enhancing Drugs during the backhalf of the 2020 and the start of the 2021 season, so there’s some concern there, but the last time Fuller played with Watson, he finished the season with 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns. Those are wide receiver No. 2 options, and he would be a perfect complement to Amari Cooper and take the pressure off of Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Hightower has been coached by the best of the best throughout his playing career in former Browns defensive coordinator Nick Saban and former head coach Bill Belichick. At 32, Hightower is an older linebacker, but he is a tackler and a leader. The Browns need another linebacker next to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and Hightower is a guy who will help mentor JOK on and off the field.
At 35-years-old, Suh may not be as productive as he once was, but he is still a mammoth of a man, weighing in at just a notch over 300 pounds. While Suh had character problems early in his career in Detroit, he has seemed to be on his best behavior since he’s been a member of the Bucs. With a young defensive tackle alignment in Jordan Elliott, Taven Bryan, Sheldon Day and Winfrey, Suh could be the old wise man the Browns need at that spot. He’s been linked to the team as much as Clowney has.
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