The Cleveland Browns only have one major free agent to deal with this offseason in running back Isaiah Crowell. Following a very disappointing 2017 season, Cleveland should not be looking to re-sign him.
Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell has had a rather odd path to the NFL. As a top recruit coming out of high school in Georgia, he chose to attend the University of Georgia to continue his football and academic career.
After a bumpy road through Georgia and Alabama State University, Crowell entered the 2014 NFL Draft. However, he would not hear his name called and would sign with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent.
In 2014, he lit the preseason on fire and earned himself a spot on the team, and by the end of that season, it was clear he would be the Browns starting running back. In 2016, he rushed for 952 yards behind an offensive line that struggled at times. Browns fans could feel a breakout year coming in 2017.
But that breakout year never came.
Crowell saw his rushing yards (853) and rushing touchdowns (2) drop in 2017 from his numbers the previous year (952 and 7) despite having more rushing attempts. Even running behind a new and very much improved offensive line, Crowell could not perform up to his previous year’s standards.
Now, with his contract looming, the Browns should pass on re-signing Crowell for a number of reasons.
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First off, let’s look at Cleveland’s other options. Their most explosive offensive weapon, outside of wide receiver Josh Gordon who joined the team in Week 13, did not even start for the Browns in 2017. His name is Duke Johnson and he is currently backing up Crowell.
Johnson is mostly used as a third-down back for the Browns, so his rushing numbers are not terribly impressive. On the year, Johnson had 348 yards and four touchdowns on 82 carries.
Where Johnson really succeeds, however, is in the passing game. Out of the backfield, Johnson caught 74 passes for 693 yards. Not to mention the fact that he added an entire new dimension to Cleveland’s offense.
What Johnson adds to the offense, Crowell normally takes away with his lack of vision and balance. Behind the Browns offensive line, Crowell should have easily been able to rush for 1,000 yards this past season/
But instead it seemed as though he was constantly running into the backs of his blockers. There was really no patience in his running and, as it would turn out, Crowell had no patience in his contract talks, either.
Early in the season, Crowell made a comment to the media about how badly he wanted a new, bigger payday in the offseason. Rather than concentrating on the season at hand, “The Crow” just wanted the Browns to feed him with almighty dollar bills.
Partially, that attitude may be what killed Crowell’s season. He could have been so occupied with contract talks and paydays that he did not concentrate on the actual games. If that truly is what happened, it’s a real shame.
Crowell has shown some flashes, but it should not be enough to warrant the Browns re-signing him. If they are truly that desperate for another running back, there are plenty of options in this year’s draft class.
So, is Crowell “done?” Well, maybe not. But it is more likely, and probably for the best, that his time in Cleveland has come to an end.