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Cleveland Browns’ grade through start of free agency

How have the Browns fared in free agency? We look at all their player additions and losses so far.

Even Money Podcast | Ken Barkley: NFL Free Agency & March Madness

The Cleveland Browns had a massive down year in 2021, failing to make the postseason after nearly making the AFC Championship game a year earlier. They finished the season 8-9 and dealt one of their best players, Odell Beckham Jr., to the Los Angeles Rams at the trade deadline.

They’re looking to revamp the roster this offseason through free agency and trades to get back to their winning ways. Though it’s still unclear where the team stands at the most important position on the field. Baker Mayfield has gotten mixed reviews his entire tenure in the NFL and his inconsistent play has become more consistent in the wrong direction recently, so the team might be looking to change things up.

But that’s a discussion for down the road. Right now, Cleveland is signing players and releasing players to get as much talent as possible on the squad.

Browns players added (as of March 16)

The Browns traded a couple of draft picks for former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper. He’s racked up over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in two of the last three seasons, so he should make a major immediate impact. Cleveland also brought in DT Tayven Bryant, a former first-round pick. He’ll add a layer of depth to the defensive line to go along with Myles Garrett on the outside.

They also got OLB/DE Chase Winovich, a former Michigan standout, in a straight up trade for LB Mack Wilson. Winovich is a fantastic pass-rusher, but he struggles a bit getting off blocks to defend the run. The Browns also addressed their poor punt return unit by adding Pro-Bowler Jakeem Grant to a 3-year deal. That will be an automatic upgrade and bring dynamic energy to special teams.

Browns players lost (As of March 16)

The biggest name Cleveland lost is probably Jarvis Landry. The team released the 5-time Pro Bowl pass catcher and he’s yet to find a new home yet. He struggled with injuries last year and never seemed to be on the same page as Mayfield. The team also released center JC Tretter, who has started every game for the Browns since arriving in Cleveland back in 2017. They also lost out on safety MJ Stewart, who left to play for the Houston Texans, who are struggling just about everywhere on the roster, but especially in the defensive backfield.

Grade so far (as of March 16)

Anytime you can get an elite talent like Cooper, you’re going to get a good grade. Though it’s going to be interesting to see how that works out since the last two big-name wideouts, Beckham Jr. and Landry, failed to find any consistent success on the shores of Lake Erie. Losing your center for the last five seasons is tough, but that was a move the organization intentionally made, so they have to believe in the options they have behind him or the ability to get another player in free agency or the draft down the road. The bulking up of the pass rush is critical too and will help Garrett out immensely.

Grade: B+