With the start of NFL Free agency now less than one month away, Andrew Berry’s job as General Manager is starting to heat up. Earlier this week he released four players, which cleared millions in cap space, but also added to the list of positions that need filled. Berry will soon be faced with decision of resigning Browns restricted and unrestricted free agents. Eight of them are unrestricted, meaning they can chose to test free agency, including: Rashard Higgins, Joe Schobert, and Damarious Randall. If the Brown’s are unable to come to terms with Randall or Schobert, here are 5 free agents Berry and his staff could target.
Austin Hooper (TE) ATL
It’s no secret that Kevin Stefanski likes to run two TE sets. Assuming Njoku is healthy, and the Brown’s front office elects not to trade him, this would give Cleveland two extremely talented tight ends. Last year in Atlanta Hooper hauled in 75 catches for 787 yards and 6 TDs. Statistically speaking, he ranked in the top 5 for almsot every TE category last season. At only 25 years old, the Stanford grad’s best football very well may be ahead of him. Coming off of back to back Pro Bowl seasons, Hooper will likely demand a “Top 5 TE Salary” which should cost around $9 million per year.
Byron Jones (CB) DAL
Upon the somewhat surprising release of T.J. Carrie, the need for a CB has risen drastically. In 2015 the Cowboys selected Byron Jones out of UConn with the 27th pick in the draft. You may remember Jones’s incredible combine where he set the World Record for the standing broad-jump. During his time in Dallas, Jones has played both free safety and corner back. This versatility would make Byron a great 3rd corner to pair with the young duo of Williams and Ward. Carrie was costing Cleveland $7.75 million a year and Byron Jones should be seeking a similar salary
Cory Littleton (MLB) LAR
Middle linebacker is one of the biggest question marks for the Browns this off-season. Uncertainty still remains around Christian Kirksey’s future and Joe Schobert may very well test free agency. Should Cleveland lose one or both of these MLBs, Cory Littleton would be a very suitable repalcement. Littleton was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Washington in 2016 and worked is way into a starting job for the Rams. He is outstanding in pass coverage and has games where he is all over the field making tackles. Kirksey is set to make over $9 million this season, which would likely cover the cost of Littleton’s annual salary.
Vonn Bell (S) NO
With three safeties from last year’s team, including Damarious Randall, set to become free agents; it is one of the most critical positions the Browns need. Von Bell played college football just down the road for the Buckeyes and would be an instant fan favorite in Cleveland. In his four season with the Saints, Bell has started the majority of games recording over 80 tackles every season. Most impressively on his career, Bell has forced seven fumbles and recovered eight. For the value, Vonn would be a great addition to the 2020 roster.
Jack Conklin (RT) TEN
It’s no secret that the Brown’s offensive line needs drastically improved. Greg Robinson will not be retained at LT and many fans believe that Berry will select his replacement in the first round of the upcoming draft. Chris Hubbard and Kendall Lamm split time at RT last year for Cleveland, and neither did enough to solidify a starting job moving forward. When healthy, Jack Conklin is one of the best right tackles in the game. According to PFF, in his rookie season Conklin was the 5th highest rated offensive lineman in the NFL. The Titans drafted Conklin 8th overall in 2016 by trading the 15th and 76th picks to Cleveland, which the Brown’s used to draft Corey and Shon Coleman.
Andrew Berry will be faced with several tough decisions over the coming weeks and inevitably the Brown’s roster will have several new faces in 2020. Best of luck to the new front office regime, as always Cleveland looks forward to welcoming a new crew of Browns players.