The Cleveland Browns have made some key additions early on in the offseason, addressing a lot of the issues that led to a disappointing season in 2019. That means Baker Mayfield will have no excuses in 2020.
NFL free agency is off to a chaotic start, there are all-time great players changing teams and a variety of teams moving in a different direction at quarterback. With all of the headlines, the acquisitions by the Cleveland Browns have gone relatively unnoticed.
But there is somebody who certainly noticed the changes, third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield who struggled in 2019. He had poor protection which effected his accuracy and if Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry weren’t getting open there often wasn’t anyone else to throw to.
Both of those problems have been addressed in free agency by signing former Tenessee Titans tackle Jack Conklin and former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper. Conklin and the Browns agreed to a three-year $42 million deal and Hooper signed a three-year $44 million deal.
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Cleveland had holes at tackle on both sides and Conklin will fill in at right tackle, he is one of the best run blockers in the league although he isn’t the best pass protector he will be a major upgrade nevertheless.
Hooper is a dynamic pass-catching threat with a great ability to get open. He had his best year in 2019 despite only playing 13 games, he recorded 75 catches for 787 yards and six touchdowns all of which all were career highs. He fits in especially well in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense that features two tight ends a lot.
There is another element that Mayfield will have to deal with in 2020, Case Keenum will be his backup, a competent quarterback who can replace him if he doesn’t play well. The former number one overall pick hasn’t experienced that yet in his short career.
Keenum had the best season of his career in 2017 when Stefanski was his quarterback coach. Keenum started 14 games and threw for 3,547 yards 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions as he led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship game. So the coaching staff is defiantly going to keep him in mind.
Cleveland also upgraded their defense by signing defensive tackle Andrew Billings, safety Karl Joseph cornerback Kevin Johnson. There are still several positions of need on both sides of the ball but these acquisitions improve the overall roster.
Mayfield had it rough in 2019 and although not all his fault he will shoulder all the blame because he plays the most important position. He has a great attitude and has bounced back from adversity before, don’t count out it happening again.