The Cleveland Browns may lose right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to free agency. If that happens, what are their options to replace him?
The Cleveland Browns may not have much going for them, but one unquestioned area of strength on the team is the offensive line.
Of course, as luck would have it, the start of free agency on March 9 may change all of that.
The Browns are facing the possibility of seeing both starting center Alex Mack and starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz hit free agency. While executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said that the Browns have "identified the guys that can really help us and fit within the schemes we’ll be running,” you never what will happen when a player has the opportunity to speak with another team.
Ideally, the Browns would already have Schwartz inked to a new deal as he has developed into one of the best right tackles in the league and, according to Pro Football Focus, would be the top right tackle on the free agent market:
Schwartz has been criticized by some for allowing so many pressures this season (43, to be exact), but rarely does it get mentioned that his 705 snaps in pass protection were tied for the most in the league. On a per-snap basis, Schwartz’s 95.3 pass-blocking efficiency ranked 27th out of 75 qualifying tackles. He has earned positive pass-blocking grades each of his four years in the league, and three of four years as a run blocker. Schwartz has also not missed a single one of the Browns’ 4,427 offensive snaps since he was drafted.
While the Browns may believe that they have a contingency plan if Mack leaves in second-year player Cameron Erving (although the person lining up behind Erving may not agree), no such option is currently on the roster, which puts Schwartz in an enviable negotiating position.
Knowing that, if the Browns do lose Schwartz they will need to turn to either the draft or free agency to fill the vacancy at right tackle, paths that are certainly no guarantee of success.
If it comes to it, here are 10 players - five in the draft and five in free agency - that the Browns could look at as the team's next right tackle.