Browns linked to several free agent offensive tackles

After an injury-filled campaign, the Cleveland Browns could be adding depth at offensive tackle

Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries and inconsistent play from the offensive line proved to be a major problem for the Cleveland Browns in 2023. That’s why it’s no surprise to hear they’re being linked to several free agents this offseason. The only question is how feasible will it be to add a starting-caliber player.

Jack Conklin, who was lost for the year in Week 1, just inked a four-year extension worth $60 million. That has him coming into the year with a cap hit of more than $12 million. And releasing him as a post-June 1 would result in no relief while a pre-June 1 cut would be devastating to the cap.

At left tackle, Jedrick Wills enters his fifth season in the league and since his option was picked up ahead of 2023, he has a guaranteed salary of $14.58 million. Releasing him isn’t on the table since it would do nothing to their salary cap, meaning it would only leave a hole on the roster.

While a high-profile starter might be out of the question, the Browns could look to add someone with upside as a potential emergency option. Or they could look for someone who hasn’t lived up to their draft status in need of a fresh start. That’s apparently the line of thinking for Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus who has Cleveland tied to pending free agents such as Mekhi Becton of the New York Jets as well as George Fant and Josh Jones of the Houston Texans.

Browns could add competition, depth this offseason

Of the three names mentioned, Becton is the most recognizable. He was a first round pick in 2020, going one spot after Jed Wills. Like Wills, Becton was solid as a rookie but has seen his performance decline since then. New York declined the fifth-year option in his deal and he could be looking for a one-year “prove-it” contract. Adding him could lead to a competition between the two left tackles, which might not be a bad thing.

Fant could also bring competition after spending 2023 as a right tackle in Houston. Fant, who spent time with the Jets and Seahawks as well, has also started on the left side. He could potentially be a swing tackle but could start if needed — on either side.

Jones feels like a swing tackle who would be an upgrade over James Hudson. He was a third-round pick for the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 and has 24 starts in 60 appearances between the two franchises. He’s played both tackle positions as well as guard, proving to have some versatility — which is huge for a team that had to go to the end of their depth chart this past season.

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