Cleveland Browns offseason blueprint: How many roster spots are up for grabs?

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Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OHIO – OCTOBER 11: Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns pauses after making a reception during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 11, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns defeated the Colts 32-23. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns may be Super Bowl contenders, but there is potential for much roster turnover.

2021 is the first year of the Cleveland Browns Super Bowl window. No, that is not a typo.

The team has an opening over the next few seasons, and needs to take advantage while not jeopardizing the long-term plan. This offseason will feature plenty of movement, so how many spots are actually open on the roster?

Let’s begin by projecting how many players at each position will make the final roster.

QB – 2

RB – 3

FB – 1

WR – 6

TE – 4

OL – 9

DL – 9

LB – 5

DB – 11

Specialist – 3

Based on the ideal scheme of defensive coordinator Joe Woods, linebacker will continue to be marginalized in favor of the defensive line and secondary. Next, let’s log the team’s most important players who are all but guaranteed to be here in 2021. Contract situation will be taken into account.

Offense

QB

Baker Mayfield

Nothing must be said. Elite QB.

RB

Nick Chubb

Kareem Hunt

Chubb may be gone after this season (it’s never wise to pay a running back, no matter how good they are), but unless a team were to offer the Browns a boatload for his services, the best runner in the NFL will be taking handoffs from Mayfield in 2021.

Hunt could easily be dealt if a team were to offer a third-round pick for him (he is, after all, just a backup RB), but that’s tough to see happening given his off-field history.

FB

Andy Janovich

Janovich is one of the league’s better fullbacks, although his role may not be as large next season.

WR

Odell Beckham Jr.

Donovan Peoples-Jones

In reality, Peoples-Jones is the only real lock in this room. Beckham could  be dealt, but given his lack of production in 2019 and torn ACL in 2020, it’s very difficult to see a team offering what he’s actually worth, and it’s even more difficult to see the Cleveland front office letting him go for less than that.

TE

Austin Hooper

David Njoku

Harrison Bryant

Hooper had a disappointing 2020, while Njoku played the best football of his career. Given Hooper’s low cap hit last season, he could effectively be cut after this year, having earned about $23 million over two campaigns. His play and the play of Njoku and Bryant in 2021 will go a long way to determining which route the Browns take.

OL

Jedrick Wills Jr.

Joel Bitonio

J.C. Tretter

Wyatt Teller

Jack Conklin

Chris Hubbard

Nick Harris

Drew Forbes

The offensive line will be the group that features the least turnover. All five starters from the best OL in the league will return, as will the primary backup at four spots, Hubbard. Harris is Tretter’s long-term replacement, and Forbes will compete with Alex Taylor, Michael Dunn, and Blake Hance for the three reserve spots. Forbes’ athleticism and play during the 2019 preseason gives him an inside track to making the team.

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