Browns may add a wide receiver – unless they do not
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns may not be robust at the wide receiver position, but that doesn’t mean they should waste time looking to sign a veteran.
The Cleveland Browns will open training camp on Thursday once again facing their seemingly never-ending quest to find a starting quarterback.
But while the competition between Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and DeSshone Kizer will dominate the daily headlines – remember last summer’s daily reports of Robert Griffin III firing footballs into neighborhood backyards? – the wide receiver position group may prove just as important.
The top slots are set with veteran Kenny Britt and second-year player Corey Coleman as the starters, at least if Coleman’s balky hamstrings hold up.
After that, things get a bit dicey.
The Browns enter camp with a very raw group of receivers, including 2016 draft selections Ricard Louis (18 receptions for 205 yards), Rashard Higgins (six receptions and 77 yards) and Jordan Payton (one reception for three yards); and a group of mostly unknowns led by Rannell Hall (one career game) and Josh Boyce (nine career receptions).
While it is likely that the Browns will let senior offensive assistant Al Saunders continue to work his magic with the players currently on the roster, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown is planning to keep his eyes open for veteran help, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
"“Right now, bringing in (WR) Kenny (Britt) was big for us in the offseason. You get a veteran who has been productive at that position, but we are also going to look for our young guys to step up in the meantime. If there are opportunities out there to add a receiver and it makes sense for the club, we will do that. We will continue to talk through that with the coaching staff. We are not panicked at the position. We think we have a lot of young guys. We have some great coaches, and a lot of guys have taken big steps. Until we are as productive as we want to be – we were far away from that last year – at that position, we will continue to try to improve it.”"
It is all well and good for Brown to keep his eyes open, but unless another team makes a surprise cut, the Browns will be filling the final 53-man roster with the players who are currently on the roster.
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Take a look at the wide receivers that are currently available as free agents and it is a bleak picture. What would be the point of bringing in an over-30 wide receiver from a group that includes 36-year-old Anquan Boldin, Eddie Royal (31), Stevie Johnson (31), Devin Hester (34) and Vincent Jackson (34), other than to add a player that the casual fan has heard of?
By the time the Browns are good, none of those players will still be in town, and there is a reason why each of them is currently not on a roster.
And before anyone asks – a wide receiver with 32 games who has not played since 2014 is not on the team’s radar, either.
It may not always be smooth, but the Browns are better off giving the practice and preseason reps to the young players currently on the roster. This season is about being competitive, rather than being all about winning, so developing the players the Browns drafted to fill out the position looks to be the best course of action.
Next: Cody Kessler is QB1 - for now
Unless Coleman or Britt goes down with an injury, adding another wide receiver simply would not serve any useful point.