The Cleveland Browns are killing it in free agency this year. The players they have signed are significantly better than the ones who have left.
By comparing the overall additions and subtractions in the 2020 off-season, the Cleveland Browns overall are killing it in free agency. The Browns have signed 10 free agents with a charge of roughly $32.9 million to the 2020 cap, using numbers from Spotrac.com as well as Overthecap.com.
On the other hand, Cleveland has let go of 16 players, who were compensated at more than $52.7 million last year. Only 10 have been signed by new teams at a discounted 2020 salary-cap charge of $23.7 million (the numbers will change a bit if some of the unsigned players are signed, but none of them are expected to sign earth-shattering deals).
The net effect is that the Browns have aggressively added net value, and are paying substantially less than market value, just because of the way the NFL allows cap money to be deferred. In round terms, they’re incurring charges of $33 million (discounted) for players on the 2020 cap, and they cut $53 million of their cap without losing much talent.
So it sounds like they are clearing $20 million, but remember that the NFL draft has not happened yet, and those players need to get paid, probably about $8 million dollars on the 2020 cap. Also, there are always injuries and new players are signed during the season, even if no new players are signed this off-season.
Likely unless there are some huge cuts made, the Browns will spend roughly at the same rate as last year, which means they will again burn some of their carryover dollars to cover the overspending. That’s a negative but totally forgivable if the team makes the playoffs.
It’s perfectly normal for teams to save cap dollars when they are rebuilding, and to spend extra when they believe they have a real shot at the playoffs. The 2020 Browns spending pattern shows they are trying to win the whole freaking thing. They are not rebuilding.
The Village Elliot’s prediction based on the numbers — The Browns will be significantly improved in 2020 and will make the playoffs. I explain why in the next page.