The Cleveland Browns encountered a disappointing season in 2019. The AFC North franchise was initially expected to rise to the occasion under the direction of first-year NFL head coach Freddie Kitchens. However, the Browns remained mediocre en route to finishing in third place in the AFC North division behind both the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
As a result of the team’s failure to produce despite possessing a wealth of talent on both side of the line of scrimmage, the Browns ultimately elected to fire the aforementioned Kitchens with another first-year NFL head coach now on board in Cleveland. With former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski now the latest head coach of the Browns, Cleveland will be gearing up for another offseason that could see the AFC North franchise add to its already potent roster.
Because the Browns, according to the team’s roster anyway, aren’t too far away from immense success, Cleveland could once again go all-in by signing a slew of talented free agent players this offseason. What could help a first-time NFL head coach more than that?
Logan Ryan, CB
The Cleveland Browns already employ a litany of impressive superstar-caliber players on the offensive side of the football. Even after a down all-around year in 2019-20, the likes of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, tight end David Njoku and wide receiver Jarvis Landry are still some of the best in the league at their respective positions.
For this reason, the Browns should focus mostly on defense this offseason. Not only that, but Cleveland should add a few veterans to the mix of young up-and-comers already featured on defense. One player that comes to mind is former New England Patriots and current Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, who is now gearing up to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. After the season he had in the absence of fellow Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler in 2019-20, Ryan will obviously be pursued by the Titans and others throughout the league.
However, due to the talent that remains in Cleveland, perhaps the Browns can spend some cash and lure Ryan away from Tennessee. He won’t come cheap, but he is more than likely worth it at this point in Cleveland’s seemingly never-ending rebuild.
Dez Bryant, WR
With the tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry leading the way for the Cleveland Browns at the wide receiver position, the AFC South franchise doesn’t necessarily need an upgrade along the outside. However, the team could use a veteran presence both on the field and in the locker room while former Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints wide out Dez Bryant could be the answer moving forward.
Because Bryant hasn’t played in the NFL in two seasons while last suiting up for the Cowboys back in 2017-18 after suffering a significant lower-leg injury during his brief stint with the Saints, the veteran pass catcher would more than likely be perfectly fine with taking a backseat in Cleveland in order to join a contending team. Not only that, but due to his recent injury history, Bryant may not be able to be the impact player that he once was — which is just fine for the Browns.
If Bryant is willing to lead this wide receiver group away from the field in addition to catching a few passes on third down for a team that can potentially reach the postseason — if all goes according to plan — perhaps Cleveland could be a top landing spot for the longtime Cowboys standout. It is also worth noting that the Browns took a good look at Bryant during his last go-round as a healthy free agent.
Shaquil Barrett, OLB
The Cleveland Browns already possess two elite pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, who both have the ability to get to the quarterback in a hurry. However, in today’s NFL, a team can never have enough pass rushers at its disposal. With that in mind, the Browns should at the very least explore the possibility of signing Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Shaquil Barrett this offseason. After spending four sub-par seasons as a member of the Denver Broncos, Barrett broke out in a big way for the Buccaneers in 2019-20, which will likely earn him quite a hefty payday this spring.
Over the course of what could possibly become his only season in Tampa Bay, the 27-year-old pass rusher tallied 58 total tackles, a whopping 19.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Prior to this past season, Barrett produced just 14 career sacks across four seasons.