Re-grading 2020 Cleveland Browns free agency additions

Browns, Jack Conklin. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Browns, Jack Conklin. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

With three offseasons for Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry in the book, let’s look back at his first free agency as the head man in charge.

When general manager Andrew Berry took over the Cleveland Browns before the 2020 season the team was coming off a disappointing 6-10 record in 2019. Former GM John Dorsey had acquired some talent at the top of the roster, but the bottom of the roster was in sore shape. The team also was without solid options at offensive tackle.

In his first free agency period as general manager, Berry began to add veterans and former high draft picks to churn over the bottom of the roster. He laid the groundwork to improve the team overall heading into his first draft later in the offseason. Let’s look at some of the key signings he made during that offseason and how they played out.

2020 Cleveland Browns key free-agent signing number 1- Jack Conklin, offensive tackle, Tennessee Titans

Signing Jack Conklin was an absolute slam dunk for Berry, earning All-Pro honors in his first season with the team he was a perfect fit. He was exactly what new coach Kevin Stefanski needed in his offensive scheme and helped the Browns break their long playoff drought.

Injuries limited him in his second season with the team but when he has played for them, he has been great. If the Browns are to return to the playoffs in 2022, Conklin will need to be healthy and continue to play at a high level.

Grade: A

2020 Cleveland Browns key free-agent signing number 2- Austin Hooper, tight end, Atlanta Falcons

Kevin Stefanski’s offense relies on tight ends to block and factor in the passing game so adding the top tight end on the market made a ton of sense. He was overpaid but historically that has been what it took for the Browns to get guys to come to Cleveland.

He never lived up to the contract but his blocking and play in 2020 played a big part in the playoff run. Hooper was never the player he was in Atlanta, resulting in cutting him after 2021, but it makes sense where the roster was in 2020 why he was brought in,

Grade: C

2020 Cleveland Browns key free-agent signing number 3- Case Keenum, quarterback, Washington Football Team

Baker Mayfield had a really tough 2019 season, so bringing in a backup quarterback with experience was a must. Case Keenum had his most success under Kevin Stefanski in Minnesota, so he had the leg up in understanding the offense well when he walked into the building. Keenum was a mentor helping Mayfield learn the system and helping set up the team for success.

He didn’t play much in Cleveland but the security he provided was valuable, as well as the draft pick the Browns got back once he was traded.

Grade: B-

Overall the Browns didn’t add a ton of players in 2020 that will suit up for them in 2022, however, plenty of them did contribute to the 2020 playoff run. Berry has remained aggressive, always identifying a need and attacking it to improve the team. In the end, the team goes from 6-10 to 11-5 and a playoff win after the 2020 offseason.

2020 Free Agency overall Grade: B

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The Browns need to be consistent winners for Berry to stick around, but he has also locked down homegrown talent and kept the young core around to build a consistent contender.