After a disappointing 2021 campaign, the Cleveland Browns are still only a few moves away from being true Super Bowl contenders, not pretenders in 2022.
Prior to the 2021 NFL season, everything seemed to be going in the right direction for the Cleveland Browns. They had the reigning Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski at the helm and a young quarterback in Baker Mayfield who was coming off of a great 2020 season. Not to mention a top running attack and a much improved defensive unit.
In 2021, it seemed everything went wrong for the team and the blame was being placed on every single thing imaginable. From injuries to COVID-19 to playcalling and to special teams, Browns fans were all over the place this past season.
It’s safe to say the team did not live up to their high expectations after a disappointing 8-9 record, the inconsistency needs to be corrected.
Here are 3 moves that would make the Browns immediate Super Bowl contenders in 2022.
Cleveland Browns move No. 3: Boost the defensive line through free agency
Among the top in-house priorities for the Browns needs to be to re-sign defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney is headed to free agency and had a great 2021 season lined up alongside Myles Garrett. He recorded 9 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss and 2 forced fumbles. While Clowney will have money as one of his top priorities on the open market, he reassured Browns fans that he would love to remain in Cleveland.
"“Asked if he would like to return to Cleveland, Clowney said, “I would, but we haven’t talked about anything right now. Still finishing the season. Got a lot of guys on this team that’s on a one-year deal that might be heading back or don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but right now, it’s just all about the next game and trying to get through the season and doing what I can do for the team right now.” – Clowney said via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal"
Myles Garrett also confirmed that he wants Clowney and has talked to him about staying in Cleveland.
In addition to Jadeveon Clowney, the Browns also need to bring in an interior defensive lineman. Two names that could potentially be on Cleveland’s radar are Bears’ DT Akiem Hicks and 49ers’ DT D.J. Jones.
In 9 games last season with Chicago, Hicks tallied 3.5 sacks, 25 combined tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, and 9 quarterback hits. A former Pro Bowler, Hicks would be a great fit in the middle of this defensive line.
On the other hand, D.J. Jones is also a name that could potentially find his new home in Cleveland. In the 2021 regular season, Jones recorded 56 combined tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks. Like Hicks, Jones would be a big presence in the middle of the defensive line and be a crucial piece to help stop the run.