Watson’s arrival has Browns eyeing help in draft for new QB
44. CLEVELAND BROWNS (8-9)
LAST SEASON: Perhaps the NFL’s most disappointing team, the Browns fell way short of expectations after making the playoffs in coach Kevin Stefanski’s first season. Quarterback Baker Mayfield suffered a left shoulder injury in Week 2 and never got untracked. He’s on the trading block following the team’s stunning acquisition of Deshaun Watson from Houston. Cleveland’s offense lacked firepower — running back Kareem Hunt’s injury and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr’.s messy release made things worse — and the unit didn’t score enough to complement a defense that played well despite new faces.
FREE AGENCY/TRADES: Acquired Watson from Houston for three first-round draft picks and more. Acquired WR Amari Cooper from Dallas. Acquired DE Chase Winovich from New England for LB Mack Wilson. Released WR Jarvis Landry, C JC Tretter and TE Austin Cooper. Traded QB Case Keenum. Placed franchise tag on TE David Njoku. Re-signed LB Anthony Walker Jr., T Chris Hubbard, K Chase McLaughlin, S Ronnie Harrison. Signed QBs Jacoby Brissett and Josh Dobbs, C Ethan Pocic, WR/KR Jakeem Grant, DT Taven Bryan, P Corey Bojorquez. Lost WR Rashard Higgins, FB Andy Janovich, DT Malik Jackson, S M.J. Stewart, LB Elijah Lee, DE Takk McKinley, QB Nick Mullens, S Jovante Moffatt, WR/KR Jojo Natson, LB Malcolm Smith, P Dustin Colquitt.
THEY NEED: Edge rusher, WR, DT, K, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, S, LB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Alabama WR John Metchie III; Georgia WR George Pickens; South Carolina DE Kingsley Enagbare.
OUTLOOK: Watson’s arrival has altered everything: the draft, the upcoming season, the long-term plan, Mayfield’s future. GM Andrew Berry unloaded three first-round picks, a third-rounder in 2023, and 2022 and 2024 fourth-round selections for Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler accused by nearly two dozen women in Texas of sexual assault. Mayfield is on the market, but the Browns are struggling to find a partner due to his $18.8 million salary next season. Cooper drops into the No. 1 receiver spot, but the Browns still need depth at that position. Landry remains unsigned as a free agent and could return. Defensive end is another priority, but there’s still a chance the team could re-sign Clowney, who was healthy and productive in 2021. Berry has been aggressive in two previous drafts with Cleveland, and given the team’s substantial investment in Watson, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Berry make a major move again for a coveted WR.
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