5. Retaining Kareem Hunt and Rashard Higgins on the cheap
It might be a little bit of cheating to start this list off with two separate moves at No. 5, but the Browns being able to re-sign two key role players had similar effects. Kareem Hunt is a player they took a chance on last season as they signed him after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs following a domestic violence incident.
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He served his suspension but then came in and proved he could be a factor in the passing game. The Browns placed a second-round tender on him which kept other teams from signing him (as it would have cost them a second-round pick to acquire Hunt). It also kept his cap hit low, despite the fact that he can be a game-changer.
The Browns were also wise in the case of Rashard Higgins. One of Baker Mayfield‘s favorite targets in 2018, Higgins spent the majority of this past season in Freddie Kitchens’ enormous dog house. Kitchens seemed to really love two things as a head coach — one was throwing it deep even when it wasn’t working, and the other was keeping players benched. He did this with Higgins, David Njoku, and more during his short tenure as frustrations grew for fans who had to watch talented players watch helplessly as the offense struggled.
Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski will hopefully not share this strategy, and bringing Higgins back on a one-year deal could be proof of that — as is the fact that they picked up the fifth-year option on Njoku.
Cleveland has a lot of talent in the starting lineup, but John Dorsey never seemed to care enough about depth. Keeping Hunt and Higgins this offseason shows that the new regime might see things a little different.