The Cleveland Browns have only made a couple of transactions since trading for Deshaun Watson, all of which were at the quarterback position. So, what’s the next stop for the Browns this offseason?
On March 18th, the Cleveland Browns made a historical trade for former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. In exchange for Watson, the Browns sent Houston three first-round picks (2022, 2023, 2024), one third-round pick (2023), and two fourth-round picks (2022, 2024). Along with Watson, Cleveland also received a 2024 sixth-round pick.
As expected, the team received a lot of backlash from fans regarding the trade as Watson still faces 22 civil suits for sexual misconduct. It’s also worth noting that Deshaun was not indicted on criminal charges in two separate counties.
Since the blockbuster trade for the 26-year-old star quarterback, Cleveland has made two transactions, both at the quarterback position.
First, the Browns traded backup quarterback Case Keenum to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2022 seventh-round draft pick. The move cleared up around $7 million in cap space.
Shortly after the Browns traded Keenum to the Bills, Cleveland announced the signing of Jacoby Brissett, who will now serve as the Browns’ backup quarterback.
Brissett’s job in Cleveland could be more important than most people think due to the possibility of Deshaun Watson receiving a suspension from the NFL. In the event that Watson is suspended, Brissett will be the team’s starting quarterback.
What’s next for the Cleveland Browns?
So, what’s the next step for the Browns following their recent moves at the quarterback position?
Well, the first order of business needs to be prioritizing Baker Mayfield and where he will be playing next season.
Mayfield has requested a trade out of Cleveland; However, due to his $18.9 million fifth-year option in 2022, he has had just about no market.
Initially, prior to trading for Watson, the Browns denied Mayfield’s request for a trade.
Now, the Browns will need to work hard with Mayfield and his representatives regarding his contract situation to find a way to be able to interest other teams for Baker’s services.
There are a bunch of ways this can play out. An option for the Browns is to simply send Mayfield in a trade with a draft pick to that team to take on his contract. This would be a similar situation from when the Texans traded Brock Osweiler and a second-round pick to the Browns to take on his $16 million salary in 2017.
Either way, the Browns will need to get creative with Mayfield’s contract to find a way to get a team(s) to want him. The worst-case scenario for Cleveland is releasing Baker and having to eat the $18.9 million.
While there are rumblings going around about the Browns potentially keeping Mayfield around until Deshan Watson serves his hypothetical suspension, it doesn’t seem likely at this time for Baker to be on their roster in 2022.
The Browns are also potentially looking at bringing Jarvis Landry back to Cleveland. On March 14th the team decided to part ways with Landry, freeing up roughly $16 million in cap space.
However, now that Watson will be stepping in as the team’s new quarterback, Landry is interested in a return to Cleveland as long as everything else can be worked out.
The Browns are in need of some defensive line depth as well. Re-signing Jadeveon Clowney would be the first step in solidifying the line in order to make a Super Bowl run.
According to a report from Jordan Schultz, the Browns offered Jadeveon Clowney a new two-year deal worth around $24 million. The team is still awaiting a decision from Clowney.
However, many do expect Jadeveon to re-sign with Cleveland due to his relationship with Deshaun Watson from back in their days on the Texans.
Ultimately, Clowney will make the best decision for himself whether that is coming back to Cleveland or heading elsewhere.
In addition to Jadeveon Clowney, it was reported by NFL Analysis Network’s Evan Massey that the Browns have expressed interest in free-agent defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
There is no question that the Browns will make countless other moves this offseason to fill more needs on the roster.
So far this offseason, the Browns have gone from a win-now roster to a Super Bowl contenders roster. Andrew Berry and the organization will continue to find ways to improve the team, any which way they can.