When rosters are cut to 53 players at the end of August there are a few Baltimore Ravens who should be claimed by the Browns from the waiver wire.
Cutting down the Cleveland Browns roster to 53 players is hard enough, but there are other rosters that are deeper and can contribute even better players, especially the hated Baltimore Ravens. If the Browns are looking to play all or part of the season without the services of Deshaun Watson, they might want to stay with the Kevin Stefanski ball control offense one more year, meaning they are understaffed in run-blocking tight ends and could use an extra fullback and offensive tackles.
The Ravens are far deeper in those areas than the Browns, and figure to waive a few very good players at the end of summer camp to cut down to 53 players.
This article is not about players who are likely to make the Hall of Fame, but they could become very important in January when rosters are thin and the team needs real players. The bottom of the roster is also important to a football team, not just the superstars up top, and Cleveland can beef up the competition at the bottom with these players.
3 Ravens the Cleveland Browns should claim at roster cutdown
3. Fullback Ben Mason could replace Andy Janovich
The Browns had a very good fullback in Andy Janovich, but he’s playing ball for the Houston Texans. To add insult to injury to the Watson debacle, the Browns decided to do away with the fullback position in favor of a wide-open offense featuring more multiple wide receiver sets, so Janovich was cut.
However, if Watson is suspended this season (just hypothetically, of course), they might want to go back to the run-first, two-tight-end-and-a-fullback concept favored by the head coach, rather than install an offense for a quarterback that does not play for the team.
Fullback Ben Mason was drafted in the fifth round by Baltimore in 2021 out of That School Up North, where he was coached by John Harbaugh’s little brother Jim. Accordingly, they should have had some decent intel on Mason.
This was part of general manager Eric DeCosta’s master plan to civilize the Ravens team. Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta was on a bit of a crusade to convert Lamar Jackson into a pocket passer for a while. Yet it’s so tempting to pull the ball down and run when there is a Pro Bowl fullback like 311-pound Patrick Ricard on your team.
Ricard is definitely a load. He doesn’t really block you so much as steamroller you like a pancake. He’s 50 pounds heavier than anyone else at the position and he hits like a ton of bricks. A ton of big, fat, overweight purple bricks.
Unfortunately for DeCosta, Ricard also wanted to get paid what he was worth, and in 2021 he was worth $4.0 million dollars, which is big bucks for a fullback. So DeCosta figured, “Hey why not draft this highly-rated Ben Mason kid? Then I can cut the veteran and his bloated contract! It’s genius!” So that’s what happened.
The only problem is that coach Harbaugh didn’t think that Mason could perform at Ricard’s level. Mason was waived and Ricard stayed.
The New England Patriots gave him a shot but decided they were actually okay with German-born fullback Jakob Johnson. The Bears also gave him a practice squad contract, but they do not actually use a fullback in their offense, so that was not going to work out.
Hence the Ravens signed him for another attempt to unseat Ricard, but really he’s playing for a position on the practice squad. The Browns can probably sign him from the waiver wire.
The question the Browns must answer is whether they will use a fullback, and if so, whether Mason is a better option than Johnny Stanton. Or are they going to follow the recent fad of playing the fullback as an H-back, and if so, who is better suited for the task?
Stanton is a converted quarterback, who also plays linebacker, and who has also gotten some snaps at tight end. He has been very impressive in the preseason the past two years but he has had trouble staying healthy and we have hardly ever seen him in the regular season. He has five total career touches for 12 total yards from scrimmage. How well do we like him?
Also, do we still believe that Mason is the hot prospect at fullback that the Ravens thought they had in 2021? Or was he over-drafted? It’s disappointing that he did not stay on anyone’s practice squad very long last season. Nevertheless, he is probably worth a shot. It’s a three-week commitment, and if he does not pan out, the team gets to reload and try someone else.