No one in the AFC North will be hampered more by COVID opt-outs than the Browns. There were several reserves who decided not to play but the real impactful loss will be in the middle of their defensive line.
Andrew Billings, Defensive Tackle
Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry added Andrew Billings in free agency and the former Cincinnati Bengals nose tackle was expected to solidify the middle of the Browns defensive line. Their run defense was porous a season ago and the space-eating Billings looked to be exactly what they needed to slow opposing offenses down.
The good news is, his contract rolls over to 2021 so the Browns will have him that season — if they want. And they should want that because this was a quality pick up and while we can’t fault him for doing what he feels is right, it will be a tough loss.
Drew Forbes, Offensive Line
Another loss that could be felt by Cleveland is the loss of Drew Forbes. Entering this offseason, Forbes was expected to battle Wyatt Teller for the starting right guard position. With that battle not happening, it could hurt the Browns as they look for the best player to emerge in that spot.
Drake Dorbeck, Offensive Tackle
An undrafted tackle out of Southern Miss, Drake Dorbeck was a longshot to make the team. Still, he had some impressive traits and could be of interest when he returns in 2021.
Colby Gossett, Offensive Guard
Another player who had a long road ahead of him was Colby Gossett. He joined Cleveland last season in September via the practice squad. On Christmas Eve, he was promoted to the active roster but he never made it into any games.
Malcolm Pridgeon, Offensive Guard
Like Dorbeck and Gossett, Malcolm Pridgeon wasn’t expected to make the final roster for Cleveland. That doesn’t mean his departure won’t hurt them.
With four offensive linemen opting out, there’s much less depth. That really hurts considering how thin they already were at the position. Don’t be surprised if the Browns now elect to add someone from free agency, even if it’s just for depth.