Who else are the Cleveland Browns in danger of losing?
The Browns will probably only consider tagging Njoku and Clowney, as departing free agents who are worth a really big paycheck. 2022 has the extra inflationary kicker associated with the increase of salary cap dollars given to all NFL teams in the form of a 14 percent increase in the cap allowance this year.
NFL general managers are all fat kids at heart, and the candy store is about to open. The free-agent salary scale is just going to be reset at a high level, and for that reason, the franchise tag looks a little better than in a normal year.
If the Browns want to qualify for compensatory free agents, and they should, they need to sign fewer free agents than they give up. As a rough guess, the pool of eligible free agents would be those who pull down $3.5 million per year or more. Below that figure won’t count.
The Browns may also lose DE Takk McKinley, OL Chris Hubbard, DT, Malik Jackson, LB Anthony Walker, Jr., WR Rashard Higgins, CB M.J. Stewart, SS Ronnie Harrison, LB Malcolm Smith. A complete list is available from Spotrac.
M.J. Stewart came on like gangbusters at the end of the season and will probably make the list. Jackson and Walker might also. If the Browns tag either Clowney or Njoku, and three other compensation-eligible players leave (totaling four players), the Browns would need to sign three or fewer free agents, preferably to smaller contracts than the player who is leaving.
They might then be due for a fourth or fifth-round pick in the 2023 draft. To understand how this works, the best way is to review how John Dorsey’s 2019 free agent signings messed up the 2020 draft or at least the compensatory picks.
Dorsey, in this fan’s opinion, was a genius at evaluating talent but was less capable of managing the salary cap and trading draft picks.