Speed is overrated trait for Cleveland Browns wide receivers

Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns on the sidelines during the second half of their contest against the Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio on October 22, 2006. (Photo by Steve Grayson/Getty Images)
Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns on the sidelines during the second half of their contest against the Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio on October 22, 2006. (Photo by Steve Grayson/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Browns
Jul 27, 2018; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (21) and wide receiver Corey Coleman (19) go for a pass during training camp at the Cleveland Browns Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

Is this really what Cleveland Browns fans want more of?

Oh, gross. Is this really what the fans want more of?

From the list on the previous page (also shown at the bottom of this page to save you the trouble of flipping back and forth), Braylon Edwards had one year in which he gained 1,289 receiving yards. Then he started leading the NFL in dropped passes.

Recently, he has started openly sharing about his struggles with substance abuse. Edwards was the greatest success among speedy wide receivers, and he’s widely regarded as an underachiever, probably because of his off-the-field issues. He is the gold standard for speedy wide receivers on the Cleveland Browns.

However, no speedster ever had more than one really good year for the Browns as a receiver.

Travis Benjamin was a major contributor during his time with the Browns, though mainly on special teams. In his last year, he broke through with 966 receiving yards, but he was not re-signed. Terrelle Pryor had a 1,000-yard season for the Browns and moved on to Washington.

Andrew Hawkins had one very good year and two decent years as a situational receiver before he was purged by Sashi Brown as part of his youth movement. He was overall a very good signing by Ray Farmer.

Farmer also picked up Taylor Gabriel as an undrafted free agent, though Brown later cut him too. Gabriel was a contributor as a rookie, had concussions as a sophomore, and was not given an opportunity to recover. Bye.

Hodge was an outstanding special teams ace in 2019, but had a so-so season in 2020, partly due to injuries.

Corey Coleman never contributed much to the Browns. Neither did Damion Ratley, Tim Carter or Anthony Schwartz, so far.

So what did it cost the Browns to acquire all of this speedy talent (using the term loosely, of course)? Donté Stallworth was signed as a free agent in 2008 for seven years and $35 million, but he was terminated early due to a conviction on manslaughter. But don’t worry, he could run really fast.

Andrew Hawkins was signed as a Restricted Free Agent for four years, $13.6 million.

From the NFL draft, Braylon Edwards was drafted in the first round as the third overall pick, back in 2005. Corey Coleman, was a first-round pick, 15th overall, in 2017. Anthony Schwartz was a third-round draft pick in 2021. He’s still on the team, of course. Travis Benjamin was a fourth-round draft pick in 2012. Damian Ratley was a 6th round pick in 2018.

Tim Carter was obtained by trade for running back Rubin Droughns. Droughns gained 324 yards from scrimmage for the Giants; Carter gained 117 receiving yards for the Browns with an embarrassing 36.4 catch percentage. Let’s say the Giants got the better end of that deal.

Recycled free agents who were picked up after being waived or cut by other teams included Breshad Perriman, signed after clearing waivers from Baltimore; Terrelle Pryor who was signed and cut and signed again after failing as a quarterback with the Raiders; and KhaDarel Hodge was signed as a free agent and left the same way.

Totaling up the bill, it was two first-round draft picks, a third, fourth and a sixth. There was one pricey free agent and one medium free agent. Carter cost a veteran backup running back, but Perriman, Pryor and Hodge did not cost much and contributed positively for one season only.

The Browns had better success with Kevin Johnson (4.41), slow poke Jarvis Landry (4.77), Dennis Northcutt (4.46), and Josh Gordon (4.52), all of whom have over 3,000 receiving yards as Cleveland Browns. Johnson, Northcutt and Gordon were all second-round picks.

Landry was a rather pricey acquisition. Hence, he has taken a lot of flak over his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $16.4 million in 2022. Currently he is seeking a trade, with the Browns’ blessing.

Remember who Landry is, however: one of the NFL’s greatest No. 3 wide receivers playing on a team that usually uses only two wide receivers. If Landry winds up moving, it is a question of fit, team finances and turning 30. He has been very capable when he has been healthy and when placed in the right situation, and very likely he will once again be a very capable receiver if he can stay healthy.

Player                             from    to    Speed     Tgts   Comp  Catch pct   Yds  Yards/Season
Breshad Perriman      2018 2018   4.25        25         16     64.0%          340        340.0
Anthony Schwartz      2021 2021   4.27        23         10     43.5%          135        135.0
Donté  Stallworth       2008  2008  4.29        45         17     37.8%          170        170.0
Tim Carter                     2007  2007  4.32        22           8     36.4%          117        117.0
Andrew Hawkins        2014  2016  4.34      209      123     58.9%       1424        474.7
Travis Benjamin          2012  2015  4.36      221      109     49.3%       1683        561.0
Braylon Edwards        2005  2009  4.38      499      238     47.7%       3697        739.4
Terrelle Pryor               2015  2016  4.38      148        78     52.7%       1049         524.5
Damion Ratley             2018 2019  4.39         44        25     56.8%          344        172.0
KhaDarel Hodge          2019 2020  4.39         27        15     55.6%          256        128.0
Taylor Gabriel               2014 2015  4.40      120        64     53.3%           862        431.0
Corey Coleman            2016 2017  4.40       131        56     42.7%          718        359.0
AVERAGES                                            4.35                                50.1%