Dec 1, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson (80) walks off the field after a turnover on downs against the New England Patriots during the second half at Reliant Stadium. The Patriots won 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns: What to do at wide receiver?

The Cleveland Browns have to do something about the glaring need at wide receiver, and fast. In a league that has turned to a passing friendly game, the Cleveland Browns are about to field one of the least talented squads if Josh Gordon is indeed suspended for the entire year due to repeat violations of the anti-substance policy. Some have hinted at another free agency grab or a possible trade scenario.

The Browns currently have 12 wide receivers on their roster not including Gordon. Of these 12 players, only 3 were drafted (Travis Benjamin, 4th round; Nate Burleson, 3rd round; Charles Johnson, 7th round). Also of the 12, 7 have yet to play a down in the NFL. All five veterans (Anthony Armstrong, Miles Austin, Travis Benjamin, Nate Burleson, and Andrew Hawkins) have had injuries or continue to have injuries that have caused them to miss significant playing time. None of these wide outs are solid right now and they are either looking for a chance to prove themselves or are looking for that last shot to stay in the game.

The Browns also made headlines this week by releasing Earl Bennett after only just a month with the team. It is hard for me to believe that Bennett was not doing as well as most of the rookies, which figures that we can look forward to a few more cuts at this position by the end of the of summer. Bennett is a veteran wide out coming from Chicago, but his numbers have continually declined over the years. The Browns must not have seen what they wanted, or are getting ready to make a move.

So just how will the Browns get a better wide receiver? After failing at the draft and free agency, the last option would be to go out and get one in a trade. There have been some names thrown around in the last few weeks like Andre Johnson, Mike Wallace, or Denarius Moore. The most likely trade would be for a smaller wide out like Moore, but don’t rule out a bigger trade in Andre Johnson. The Browns are going to rely on their defense and run game, but a big addition at wide out could set them apart from the rest of the AFC North.

Johnson has yet to show up to any type of team work out this offseason and has already forfeited bonus money showing he is serious. If the Texans do decided to trade Johnson, the Browns could give up draft picks, money, players, or a combination to get the veteran in Cleveland to help them be a contender in the AFC North. As of now the Texans are trying to work out the problem with Johnson and are trying to keep him in town. With a new head coach though, when will enough be enough?

The Miami Dolphins signed Mike Wallace last offseason to a big contract, but didn’t live up to the hype. Wallace has a history of being difficult to work with, but I don’t see that getting in the way of the Dolphins trying to keep him. If the Dolphins did want to unload Wallace though, the Browns definitely have the cap space and draft picks to make it happen. Let’s just hope this wide receiver from Miami doesn’t turn out like the last one.

The last and most likely choice for a trade would be Denarius Moore. Moore isn’t a super star yet, but has proven to play consistent with “developing” quarterbacks in Oakland. Moore has experience against tough defensive backs out in the West and could be a great addition to start as the top wide receiver. The Browns would not have to lose the farm to get Moore, as he is going into his contract year and is only look at a little over $1 million dollars in 2014. At 6’0” and a 4.45 forty time, Moore could be a great addition for any team in need of a wide out.

Whatever the Browns decided to do, they need to do it quick. With OTA’s already over and minicamp approaching soon, a new addition will obviously be behind in learning the new playbook and getting reps in with two young quarterbacks. If they decide not to go for a trade, look for the Browns receivers to have to be discipline route runners and rely on the run game opening up short and effective passes.

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Tags: Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver

  • davewr58

    Will you sports journalists give it a rest. The Browns have more than enough wide receivers to use in Shanahan’s offense. Benjamin, Hawkins and Cameron are all good receivers and Armstrong, Johnson, Jones and Snead all have the potential to be pleasant surprises, while Burleson and Austin will both contribute. They don’t need any more receivers … they will be fine!

    • James Jeffries

      I don’t think they need more receivers, just a better one.I agree that Benjamin and Hawkins are decent receivers but still have yet to prove themselves and both are injury prone. Both of them haven’t been #2s on a team before. Benjamin played behind Gordon and Little last year and Hawkins was behind a list of others. Cameron will play tight end and cause problems for defenses but unless anyone steps up, teams will put more coverage on him. I also doubt that Burleson and Austin do much. Austin still hasn’t been able to fully practice yet and Burleson is towards the end of his career already. Both are more of contribution players with no one strong to contribute to.Anthony Armstrong has turned heads at OTA’s but that doesn’t always translate into games. As for the rookies, only time will show if they are a bust or not. Like I said, the Browns will have to hope that the run game opens up passing plays that allow for effective passing. If they wanted to try and gain a lead in the AFC North (which seems what Jimmy Haslam wants to do with all the 2 year contracts), they need to make a move now.

    • Brown4Life

      Right on davewr58! There’s a great deal of positives still in the prospective receiving corps and I, for one, am rooting for C. Johnson to break out! Greenbay was pretty upset about our Browns securing him from their ‘nest’- he’ll be our secret X factor much like Gordon was- and with the addition of the power running game we’re gonna explode onto the AFC North scene and right into the playoffs. I just wish all of the nay sayers would wait till the cream floats to the top and that’ll be shown throughout preseason. GO BROWNS!!

  • Jarod Cook

    Once Gordon was suspended for the year, the front office new the season was over before it begone. So they went about building for the future. Trading down and drafting Gilbert, drafting Manziel, taking Benito in the 2nd. All are building blocks for the future. The players are going to need a year to adjust to Pettine’s and Shanahan’s systems. Also the front office doesn’t see the WR position as a big need, and I happen to agree with them. Especially in Shanahan’s system where it’s mostly deep go routes, and relies heavily on the run game to get the chains moving.

    • James Jeffries

      I agree with the front office as well about building towards the future, but the moves they made in the offseason at wide out may not be enough.Plus, who is to say that we will ever get Gordon back? As great of a player as he is, the league has rules about his off field habits. Next, Who is going to catch these deep routes? If the match up is between any of these guys and a secondary from any team in the AFC North, I take the defense all day right now. I like how they are building the team up, but if you are going to make a difference now like Jimmy Haslam wants to, it’s time to get a reliable receiver and not a group of maybes.

  • Greg Staller

    Dont sleep on charles johnson. Packers hated losing him on waivers but had no choice after other injuries forced their hand. Dude has skills