Going into free agency with the most salary cap room at over $100 million, the Cleveland Browns addressed a big area of need—early and often—at offensive line in signing former Green Bay Packers center J.C. Tretter (three years, $16.75 million) and ex-Cincinnati Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60 million, $31.5 million guaranteed).
Cleveland would also lock up third-year All-Pro and Pro Bowl left guard Joe Bitonio to a four-year $47.5 million extension, with $23 million guaranteed.
While Cleveland lost quarterback-turned-wideout Terrelle Pryor to the Washington Redskins (one year, $8 million), the Browns found a worthy—and more experienced—wide receiver in veteran Kenny Britt in signing the former Los Angeles Rams pass-catcher to a four-year $32.5 million deal with $17 million guaranteed.
One year after watching Alex Mack, Mitchell Schwartz and Taylor Gabriel leave via free agency, the Browns front office looks to have learned its lesson in failing to act in free agency to fixing a porous offensive line and getting a proven playmaker at WR.
But perhaps the biggest move in all of free agency was made when Cleveland traded for former Houston Texans quarterback—and free agency flop—in Brock Osweiler and their 2018 second-round pick.
While reports are stating that the Browns are likely to cut—or trade—Osweiler within the next few days, the willingness to take on half of his $16 million contract for a ‘18 second-rounder and a ‘17 sixth-rounder raised a lot of eyebrows around the league that Cleveland means business.
As of now, the Browns own five of the first 65 overall picks in the first three rounds of this coming 2017 NFL Draft and five picks thru the first three rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, for a whopping ten.
With such ammo at their disposal, Cleveland suddenly is liquid and very flexible in being able to do a number of things.
Whether it is draft capital to move up in the draft to grab a quarterback prospect such as Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes II or DeShone Kizer or to use as chips in a potential trade for New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garrapollo, Cleveland is in a position to make a dramatic overhaul of its roster going into the 2017-18 season.
Less than 50 days from the 2017 NFL Draft is held outside in downtown Philadelphia, and the Cleveland Browns have a chance to potential be the talk of the “City of Brotherly Love”, for once, they have a chance to be what everyone is talking abut for the right reasons, as opposing to the wrong ones for a change.