What other options are out there?
if you take the view that the Browns intend to be close to level-funded this season, they would probably be receptive to a deal involving David Njoku for a draft pick because that would trim a few dollars off the budget and thus allow another player to be signed to replace him.
In addition, having undrafted rookies come through could allow some veteran contracts to be moved, much like Jamie Gillan, the Scottish Hammer, allowed the Browns to clear $2.2 million in salary cap last year. Britton Colquitt landed on his feet in Minnesota, by the way, so his story turned out well also.
The big deals are coming in 2021 for Myles Garrett, with Baker Mayfield also being restructured in 2021 unless he has a bad year. For whatever reason, the quarterback is almost always taken care of prior to year four, unless the team is unhappy with his performance.
Defensive linemen (see Khalil Mack for example) can be left hanging until year four, although there really is not much of a decision to be made about Garrett. Sign him now if the asking price from agent Bus Cook is at all reasonable. Why would the Browns want to damage their ability to take care of those two players in order to pick up non-impact players? So Andrew Berry is unlikely to seek to burden his future career with an unsustainable path forward.
Nevertheless, this year there is an unusual number of veterans still looking for new teams this late in the pre-season. The league as a whole started out with a voracious demand for free agent talent and drove up expectations, but it ground to a halt when COVID-19 hit, and future budgets suddenly became unpredictable.
Teams even delayed signing their draft picks, because they did not want to write the checks for the bonus money, as hard as that is to believe. So there’s still talent out there, and the Browns may want to revisit the cost versus benefit analysis of being overspent. It’s a weird economy this year.
What happens if, say, defensive ends start getting ill, but there are some star defensive ends that are available on the free-agent market. It’s a difficult question to answer, and it is not clear who actually has leverage.
The estimated budget on the previous page assumes a penny-pinching $3 million dollars for injury replacements; assumes no additional free agent signings; no trade deadline deals; no waiver deals, no summer camp deals. Although an extension for Myles Garrett would obviously be a huge deal, the impact this year might be minimal because the extra money kicks in next season.
If Garrett’s deal parallels Khalil Mack’s, the finances will not get really hairy until about 2022 and beyond, because the bonus money will be paid to Garrett immediately, but the salary cap charges are amortized over the length of the contract.
The Browns also have to have a long-term plan in place to sign Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Denzel Ward, while continuing to pay Odell Beckham, Jr., Jarvis Landry, Vernon Sheldon Richardson, and others. If the Browns like these players, they might not want to blow all their carryover dollars on near-term fixes and accumulating non-impact players.
It will be interesting to see how Berry works things out. Will he be able to keep all of the stars happy?