Cleveland Browns can take advantage of free agent discounts in 2021

Cleveland Browns offseason. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns offseason. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

A few crazy-sounding proposals on how the Browns can benefit

If salaries are crashing, the front office has to ask how they can take advantage of it. Second, do they even want to take full advantage of it?

Do they want to stick it to players that have been with the team and served faithfully for years just because they can? That is an interesting question, and leads to the first proposition:

The Browns could cut players who they intend to keep, trying to sign them at a lower rate

Some players are just going to be cut to create salary-cap sap space, including Sheldon Richardson and David Njoku. But if they cannot negotiate new contracts for Jarvis Landry, J.C. Tretter, and Joel Bitonio, what should the team do? Perhaps they should cut these players in order to force them to renegotiate at a lower rate. All told, the non-guaranteed money is:

Landry                         $11,753,125

Richardson                $11,150,000

Tretter                           $7,825,000

Bitonio                       $10,000,000

Hubbard                       $3,677,875

Kareem Hunt              $3,500,000

Adrian Clayborn        $3,000,000

Ronnie Harrison        $2,183,000

Andy Janovich            $1,437,500

TOTAL                         $54,526,500

On the open market, these players are going to find that they are likely going to receive a 50 percent haircut.

Or perhaps the Browns should take the view that the key players — probably Landry, Tretter, and Bitonio at least — are not going to get gouged, on the basis that the franchise owes a lot to these players, and loyalty is a two-way street. Overall, however, the Browns can probably cut their expenses on these players by $12 million dollars and still keep them on the roster by the time training camp rolls around.

Speculation abounds that Cleveland will negotiate a new deal for Odell Beckham Jr and reduce his cap number for this season as well. However, it is harder to actually cut OBJ because he has too much money tied up in guarantees. Hence the cut-and-renegotiate method would probably not work for him; he would simply wave good-bye.

Trade for future draft picks, but sign free agents right now

Free agents are going to be a huge bargain right now. The Browns might think about trading back to invest in the future, lowering their 2021 investment in draft picks, and using that money to add an additional veteran starter right now. In 2022 it will be time for the extra draft pick to replace a veteran.

In other words, the $1.7 million for 26th overall would be better spent on an extra veteran free agent this season, and next season there will be a few extra draft picks ready to step in.

2021 requires special cap management skills, and this is why Dee and Jimmy Haslam brought in Ivy-League trained contract management specialists to figure out how to do it. Well, this is where they earn their money. 2021 will be the most challenging cap year in NFL history because so many teams are overspent like never before.

Next. Draft prospects Browns should avoid in Round 1. dark

Traditional thinkers will be punished. Those who are able to react to the changing sports economy will reward their fans with wins.