NFL free agency grades: Browns pass the test during tampering period

The Browns kept several key players and upgraded one important position ahead of free-agency

Browns, Jameis Winston
Browns, Jameis Winston / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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Browns outside additions

In addition to signing a few of their own guys, the Browns came to terms with a couple of outside free agents. The biggest name was easily Jameis Winston, but he's not the best player they agreed to terms with. Let's dive in and see who they landed during the tampering window.

Jameis Winston, QB, One-Year, $8.7 million: B

At first glance, it seemed this was a worse deal than it is. Early reports said this was a one-year deal worth $8.7 million, which seemed like a lot. But considering their $235 million quarterback played 12 games in two years, it was an annoying necessity.

However, Tom Pelissero reported that the deal for Jameis Winston has a base of $4 million. That's much more managable, keeping this at a B.

What keeps this from being an A is the fact that Winston has a shady past that everyone wants to gloss over. He's goofy and makes people laugh but the accusations while at Tallahassee and then again in the NFL were ugly. The PR hit won't be as bad for Winston though, since people seem to ignore this.

Nyheim Hines, RB, One-Year, $3.5 million: C+

Nick Chubb is coming off a torn ACL and MCL. Nyheim Hines is coming off a torn ACL. Yes, he has talent — and can return kicks — but the Browns have two backs coming off a serious knee injury and Jerome Ford. That's not ideal.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Two-Years, $8 million: A

This might have been their best move of the offseason and it hardly made a sound. Jordan Hicks is one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL and he has experience with Jim Schwartz. The two were together in Philadelphia — Hicks was ever on the roster in 2017 when they won it all.

Losing Anthony Walker was expected. Losing Sione Takitaki hurt. But adding Jordan Hicks and his 874 career tackles, 14.5 sacks, and 13 picks is an upgrade.

Hakeem Adeniji, OT, One-Year (Terms Undisclosed): C+

This was nothing more than a depth piece but since Hakeem Adeniji has 15 career starts, it's not a bad one. He just hasn't seen the field much as of late with zero offensive snaps in 2023 and just 220 in 2022.