Undrafted free agents are Cleveland Browns key to 2021 NFL draft

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 26: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces a pick by the Cleveland Browns during the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT /
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Cleveland Browns
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – JANUARY 10: Porter Gustin #97 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates an interception during the first half of the AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on January 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Browns roster breakdown for 2021.

It is going to be tough to find space for UDFAs based on the current roster breakout. Here is one hack’s attempt to look at the roster, along with the estimated cap number according to OverTheCap.com. Of course, they might be able to negotiate a different deal at some point, so these numbers could change.

First, let’s start with some players who we can be rather confident will make the final 53 player roster for the opening game, along with the cap number:

42 Players who should make the Cleveland Browns:

1 Odell Beckham Jr. $15,750,000
2 Jarvis Landry $14,753,125
3 Sheldon Richardson $13,166,668
4 Jack Conklin $13,000,000
5 J.C. Tretter $11,075,000
6 Baker Mayfield $10,569,130
7 Joel Bitonio $10,000,000
8 Denzel Ward $9,449,886
9 Myles Garrett $9,352,120
10 Austin Hooper $8,250,000
11 Case Keenum $7,333,333
12 David Njoku $6,013,000
13 John Johnson $5,250,000
14 Kareem Hunt $5,000,000
15 Chris Hubbard $4,971,875
16 Jedrick Wills $4,477,935
17 Nick Chubb $4,246,381
18 Takkarist McKinley $3,687,500
19 Andrew Billings $3,500,000
20 Ronnie Harrison $2,183,000
21 Wyatt Teller $2,183,000
22 KhaDarel Hodge $2,133,000
23 Troy Hill $1,875,000
24 Greedy Williams $1,761,457
25 Grant Delpit $1,696,605
26 Andy Janovich $1,437,500
27 M.J. Stewart $1,173,153
28 Charley Hughlett $1,145,000
29 Rashard Higgins $1,127,500
30 Sione Takitaki $1,090,219
31 Jordan Elliott $1,042,824
32 Sheldrick Redwine $1,030,102
33 Jacob Phillips $1,022,591
34 Malcolm Smith $987,500
35 Cody Parkey $987,500
36 Harrison Bryant $972,258
37 Nick Harris $858,662
38 Jamie Gillan $853,334
39 D’ernest Johnson $850,000
40 Stephen Carlson $850,000
41 Porter Gustin $850,000
42 Donovan Peoples-Jones $826,652

Dead Money:  $1,015,102 (money paid to players no longer on the team)


If you see any players here that the Browns need to get rid of, post your suggestions below. Otherwise, if the Browns draft nine additional players, that brings us to 51 players and adds another $8,931,008 based on current draft position according to OverTheCap.com.

Now, you may select only two players from the following list, or, alternatively,  UDFAs.  Some of these guys can actually play.  Wilson has started 22 games for the Browns the past two seasons, and Switzer has been in 41 NFL games and has over 500 receiving yards.  But if you choose these two, there are zero UDFAs to start the season.  Are you sure this is what you really want the Browns to do?

UDFAs @ $660,000 each, or choose from this list:

Drew Forbes $892,334
JoJo Natson $875,781
Mack Wilson $927,201
Ryan Switzer $920,000
Elijah Lee $850,000
Robert Jackson $850,000
Joe Jackson $850,000
Colby Gossett $850,000
Cameron Malveaux $850,000
Montrel Meander $850,000
John Kelly $850,000
Ja’Marcus Bradley $780,000
Jordan Franks $780,000
Matt McCrane $780,000
Derrick Willies $780,000
Trevon Young $780,000
Alexander Hollins $780,000
Kyle Lauletta $780,000
Jovante Moffatt $780,000
Michael Dunn $780,000
Curtis Weaver $660,000
Blake Hance $660,000
Kyle Markway $660,000
Elijah Benton $660,000
Javon Patterson $660,000
A.J. Green $660,000
Cordel Iwuagwu $660,000
Johnny Stanton $660,000
Alex Taylor $660,000
UDFAs $660,000 ea

TOP 53 PLAYERS SUBTOTAL $199,033,818
Practice squad $3,584,000
Dead Money $1,015,102
Replacements $3,000,000
Estimated 2021TOTAL SPEND $206,632,920
Overspend $24,132,920
Carryover for 2022 $4,910,308 (how much they would really have left)

Based on these estimates, the Browns 2021 carryover of $29,043,228 will have been spent down to $4,910,308 for 2022.  They would still have positive money in the bank for next season, and would still be able to restructure contracts to create salary-cap room if necessary.

If the Browns do not create roster spots for UDFAs, they will still store players on the Practice Squad roster (16 players, based on the current Covid-adjusted rules), but these players are subject to “poaching” by the rest of the NFL teams that are better at managing their rosters. It stands to reason that the best players will be pilfered first, so if there are players that the Browns want to keep, they had better create roster spots for them, not assume that the rest of the NFL will ignore the ones on the Practice Squad.

If they believe in the UDFA process, they need to clear roster spots by consolidating some draft picks. Nine is too many. They should probably also trim some fat from the budget by making a few salary cap cuts during training camp, allowing them to protect the players that they want. During the season, if they find players they like better, then they can promote the ones they like and release the ones that fall out of favor. They may take a serious look at thirty or forty individuals in order to find five really good UDFA players.

Bottom line, there is every reason to be optimistic that there’s an unusual number of NFL starting quality players who will be found among this year’s crop of UDFAs, and probably even a few Pro Bowlers. Currently, the Browns do not have roster space for UDFAs if they adhere to the current plan to draft nine players in the NFL. They need to consolidate those picks, especially because the quality of the draft is never very certain and this year is worse than usual.

dark. Next. Where do Cleveland Browns still need to improve?

UDFAs are a hellacious investment this season, so are free agents, but late-round draft picks are just not a good bet this season.  So why invest so heavily in draft picks this season?