The Cleveland Browns signed A.J. Green to a record bonus as an undrafted free agent and he should have a realistic shot to land on Cleveland’s final roster.
The Cleveland Browns were busy immediately following the 2020 NFL Draft, as they signed 15 undrafted free agents. Among those 15 signings was cornerback A.J. Green from Oklahoma State, who many considered to be one of the best undrafted free agents available.
In order to sign Green, the Browns had to give out the highest reported guarantee to an undrafted player, giving Green a $145,000 guarantee. It was evident several teams were after Green following the draft, so the Browns knew they were going to have to be aggressive.
Although the guarantee is a minimal amount in the grand scheme of NFL economics, the Browns would not have signed an undrafted player to that type of deal unless they had high belief in his talents. That is why it seems like Green will have a realistic shot to make the Browns final 53-man roster.
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Green is a long cornerback who has the size and strength to play on the outside in the NFL. He has the instincts to make a play on the ball when quarterbacks throw in his direction. However, the main reason he dropped out of the draft is due to his speed.
The 21-year-old corner ran a 4.62 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which proved the biggest concern about Green. Despite his length, Green may struggle on the outside in the NFL due to wide receivers, typically gaining a step on Green in foot races. It happened on occasion in college, and it will happen more frequently in the NFL with even better athletes.
Even with the concern about his speed, it would not be surprising to see Green on Cleveland’s final roster at the end of the preseason. The Browns have 10 cornerbacks on the roster currently, including Green. However, only a few on the roster seem to have their jobs locked down.
Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams will not be going anywhere and will be the starting cornerbacks in 2020. Terrance Mitchell provides solid depth, and he has proven to be a reliable corner on the outside. The Browns signed Kevin Johnson this offseason and is the presumed favorite to be the slot corner. Lastly, Tavierre Thomas is one of the best special teams players in the NFL, so he will likely be on the roster as well.
After those five, it will be a competition to be the final cornerback on the roster. This position could be determined by special teams play more than anything, however, as this will be a battle for a final roster spot across multiple positions.
Despite having to compete against four other cornerbacks, Green will likely have the edge if he performs as expected at camp. He has the tools to be a solid zone coverage corner in the NFL, but also has the strength to fit into a press man scheme. If he can show he can make an impact on special teams, it would make sense for the Browns to stash Green at the backend of their roster.
If the Browns decided to cut Green and try to place him on the practice squad, it would be expected another team would claim him on waivers considering he had a solid market after the draft. So if the Browns wanted to keep Green, they would be forced to keep him on their active roster.
Teams will often fill out the bottom of their roster with undrafted free agents, and Green has a goof chance of being one of those players for the Browns. As his record signing bonus showed, the Browns want Green on their roster.