The AFC North might just be the best division in football. Last season, they had three of the four teams make the playoffs, and it looks like this division will repeat that performance next year.After being NFL bottom feeders for decades, the Cleveland Browns have finally risen to the top of the league.
The past few years have been impressive as we’ve witnessed the front office be aggressive and make a ton of moves to improve the roster.
With a relatively strong defense led by Myles Garrett, this franchise was able to stay close throughout most of their games. Additionally, Baker Mayfield seemed to come alive at the right time, making the case to be considered a top 10 quarterback in the league.
Being in the AFC North means there is no rest for the Browns as they aim to win the division next year. The roster is stacked with very few holes, so most of the transactions will be acquiring depth players. However, this organization has a great chance to put this team over the top for the 2021 season. Here are four bold predictions for the Cleveland Browns offseason.
Trade Odell Beckham Jr.
Since being traded to the Cleveland Browns in 2019, Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t lived up to the hype the fan base had hoped for. During his two years with the franchise, Beckham has only acquired 1,354 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Additionally, his 55.1% catch percentage is alarming, and his injury last season has some worried about his return.
It hasn’t been all that great for Beckham since joining the Browns and a new change of scenery might just be what he needs to get back on track. He’s only 28 years old, and we’ve seen him play at an incredibly high level as well.
For Cleveland, it appears as though the offense has played better without Beckham on the field. Considering he still has time on his side, the front office could acquire a solid draft pick trading away Beckham right now. Even though the front office claims they want to keep Beckham, it would make more sense to trade him now before his value possibly declines.
Sign Mackensie Alexander
The run defense was one of the best in the league and they proved that during their game against the Tennessee Titans, stopping Derrick Henry for just 60 rushing yards. However, they allowed a ton of yardage through the air which allowed their opponents to stay close through most of their games. Improving the secondary is likely high on the Browns’ priority list this offseason.
Look for Cleveland to potentially pursue Mackensie Alexander during free agency. He was a beast for the Cincinnati Bengals last season, putting up 47 total tackles, six pass deflections, and one interception. He was clearly the best cornerback on the roster and is arguably the best corner available in the free-agent market.
Bringing him into Cleveland would accomplish two things. First, he’d fill a positional need on the defense and would immediately improve the Browns’ secondary. Second, they’d be signing him away from a division rival. Alexander emerged as an elite corner in the league and the Browns should highly consider signing him if they plan to win the AFC North next year.
Sign Tyus Bowser
Another weakness on the Browns’ roster is the linebacker position. Tyus Bowser played more on the outside for the Baltimore Ravens, but his uncanny ability makes him versatile within the front seven. He’s capable of playing outside linebacker and inside linebacker. He can step up and stop the run, and drop back in coverage to stop the pass.
He played in every game for the Ravens, however, he technically started in just three games. He came off the bench as a rotational player for the Ravens defense in 2020, but next year aims to be a valuable starter for whichever franchise signs him.
He’d be the perfect fit for the Cleveland Browns as his versatility allows the coaching staff to put Bowser in the right position at all times. Also, he’s another player the Browns could steal away from another divisional rival, making the signing all that much more sweet to Browns fans.
Draft Levi Onwuzurike
With the 26th pick in the upcoming NFL draft, the Browns should highly consider drafting Levi Onwuzurike, the defensive lineman who played for the Washington Huskies.
At 6-3, 288 pounds, Onwuzurike has the size to dominate the interior line for the Cleveland Browns. They already have an impressive run defense, but selecting Onwuzurike could be what the team needs to put the defense over the top. He opted out last season due to COVID-19, which is likely why he’s projected to be a late first-round or early second-round pick.
It’s unclear as to how exactly the former Husky would do at the professional level since he sat out last season. However, he seems like a player the Browns could take the time to develop, then bring him into the starting lineup once he’s ready.