The Cleveland Browns could still look to sign some talented free agents.
Despite the heart of the NFL offseason being over with, there are still some quality players available to be signed. The Cleveland Browns could surely bolster some of their position groups by adding some talented players.
Given that these players have yet to be signed, it is quite possible the Browns could sign them for less than their value may typically be.
To be clear, the Browns have built a great roster and do not need to reach for these players and overpay, but if the right opportunity arises, they could be a huge addition to the group.
Honorable mention: Clay Matthews
Clay Matthews has to make this list in one form or another. The Matthews' name is a fan favorite in the city of Cleveland as his father, Clay Matthews Jr., played for the Browns for 16 seasons and is a legend in the city. Matthews III could sign for the Browns for a one-year deal and help produce for his father’s old team.
Matthews has had an incredibly productive career in the NFL as he had six trips to the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro nod. He can come in and provide great leadership as well be productive as situational depth at defensive end or outside linebacker. He would not be an every-down player for Cleveland, but can be a good player off the bench and could be a serviceable replacement if a starter were to be injured.
Matthews still has some left in the tank and could be a steal for the Browns given that he will likely sign for an inexpensive contract.
Darron Lee, Linebacker
Darron Lee is a linebacker who played at The Ohio State University and went to the Jets for three years before spending last season with the Chiefs. He has had some quality production in the NFL, but certainly has room to improve. This could benefit the Browns as Lee would likely not require a large pay day, yet would add immediate help at linebacker.
Lee would be a great addition to the young linebacking corps. He is extremely athletic, as he ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.43 seconds. That time beats most running backs, receivers, and defensive backs. He can cover ground sideline-to-sideline and really make some electric plays. He and Mack Wilson would be an athletic linebacking duo.
The current group of linebackers for Cleveland has a lot to prove. They simply have not played many snaps in the NFL. There is a chance Wilson, Sione Takitaki, and rookie Jacob Phillips could turn into great players, but as of now there is a lot of uncertainty.
A proven veteran could be a perfect addition to this group. It can give the defense stability and a leader at the second level. Lee can provide just that for the Browns. Adding the former Buckeye could be a huge gain for the defense.
Larry Warford, Guard
Larry Warford is a guard who last played for the Saints. The last three seasons Warford has earned Pro Bowl honors for New Orleans. He is a solid player and has been a staple for the interior of the Saints’ offensive line. The Saints could not afford to pay him an extension, so they decided to cut him.
A team like the Browns could be the perfect suitor for Warford. The Browns have recently improved their line, as they drafted Jedrick Wills Jr. in the first round of the draft and signed highly coveted tackle Jack Conklin. They also retained J.C. Tretter and Joel Bitonio. That leaves right guard with quite some uncertainty.
As of now, it seems as though it is between Drew Forbes and Wyatt Teller to start at right guard. A guy like Warford would come in and play from day one and at a high level. If Warford were to join, the Browns would not only have the most improved offensive line in the league, but they could have a very strong unit.
The Browns probably cannot afford Warford long-term, but a one or two-year deal could be very beneficial and plausible for both parties. This would be an excellent addition to the offense.
Cam Newton, Quarterback
Cam Newton was cut from the Panthers after they acquired Teddy Bridgewater and did not want to deal with the uncertainty of Newton’s health. Newton was a former MVP of the NFL and is still in unbelievable shape. He definitely has some left in the tank if he is healthy and could be a lethal weapon to any offense in the league.
The Browns could take a flier here and get Newton to sign a one-year deal for a small salary. He can certainly still start in this league for some teams, and thus would become the best backup quarterback in the league behind Baker Mayfield.
The Browns could incorporate some packages specifically for Newton. He can have a run package, goal line package, and obviously still throw. Newton can be an asset to the offense that is similar to that of Taysom Hill for New Orleans.
Sure, this may be a stretch for the Browns to acquire Newton. There is not an immediate need at quarterback as the Browns have Mayfield and Case Keenum. Newton is also unlikely to take a deal to make him a backup. Because Newton recently worked out with Odell Beckham Jr., story lines were flying, but this is mostly wishful thinking.
Everson Griffen, Defensive end
Everson Griffen is a defensive end who has played for the Vikings from 2010 to 2019. Although he is 32-years-old, he is playing good football and seems healthy because he is still a productive player. He has earned a Pro Bowl invite in four of the last five seasons. In the past, he has had previous seasons of 10.5, 12, and 13 sacks respectively. Griffen is a true force on the edge.
Griffen and Myles Garrett could combine for arguably the best defensive end duo in the entire NFL. The two would create absolute chaos for opposing offenses to deal with and try to scheme around.
Opposing teams would have to run faster-developing plays or send multiple blockers at Garrett and Griffen, which helps the defense. The best help for a secondary is a good pass rush. The Browns struggled with depth and production on the defensive line last season, which in turn hurt the entire defense.
Olivier Vernon was injured and unproductive for much of last season. The Browns could release Vernon with no dead money and sign Griffen as a replacement to completely solidify the defensive line. Griffen would add a powerful presence opposite Garrett that would sure improve the defense.
Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive end
The last, and potentially best possible free agent the Browns should add is defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney was drafted first overall in the 2014 NFL draft. He has been to the Pro Bowl three times in his young career.
Clowney has underachieved according to some due to his extremely high expectations coming into the league. Despite not living up to the hype yet, he is still an incredible athlete and force on the defensive line. His pure talent and athleticism are hard to match in the league. He and Garrett would surely be the best pair of defensive ends in the league.
This addition would largely mirror the benefits of Griffen, but magnified more due to the talent Clowney is. Clowney is also only 27-years-old and heading into his prime. He can blossom as a part of the Cleveland defense.
His asking price has lowered significantly in the last few weeks. What was once over $20 million a year, has since dropped to around $15-17 million a year. The Browns can afford to give him a one-year deal easily.
As mentioned earlier, the Browns could cut Vernon for no dead money and replace his $15.5 million salary with Clowney and have a huge increase in production, or they could even keep Vernon for one more year and have one of the deepest and most talented lines in the league.
If the Browns could somehow add Clowney, the team would instantly get a lot better.
Any of the players on this list would greatly help the team in areas of need. Some proven veterans could be exactly what this young team needs as it looks to make a playoff push.