BEREA — Cleveland Browns addressed a major need by signing defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal worth $11 million. There are still things to tackle as the Browns continue through their off-season program.
OTAs kick off on Tuesday for Cleveland. Players will be able to practice together as a team voluntarily. They essentially don’t have to be there, but most will. The majority of the offense just returned from the Bahamas. Deshaun Watson put together a trip for the offense to get some work in, this kind of thing is necessary for team chemistry. With it being Watson’s first year with the team, he has to win over the locker room, especially with all of the legal issues he is working through.
The Browns are set on the offensive side of the ball, it will be just about getting acclimated. Amari Cooper is the team’s top receiving threat and is just one of the new faces on that side of the ball. Rookie wide receiver David Bell is another one who will have an important role in the team’s offense. Bell is projected to take over for Jarvis Landry in the slot receiver position. Cleveland drafted Bell to replace Landry — that is no secret.
There is a chance the Browns still could add another receiver in free agency, one to watch would be Will Fuller. Fuller has been rumored to link back up with Deshaun Watson — the two played together in Houston.
Cleveland will have their entire offensive line back from last season, minus J.C. Tretter at center. Tretter was released as a cap space casualty and replaced by Nick Harris, who the team has been grooming for this for a couple of years now.
Jedrick Wills being healthy in 2022 is a big necessity. Wills was not healthy last season and played on a bummed ankle. The ankle affected his performance and his play was not where it needed to be, despite some very good moments at times.
Where the Browns’ offense can go in 2022 largely depends on what happens with Watson. If he is suspended for a long period of time, the team will have to roll with Jacoby Brissett under center. Brissett is a capable backup, but he’s not going to win you games himself. If a short suspension happens, it’s important that Watson and the offense quickly connect on the field.
Cleveland’s defense is nearly complete on paper, but there is one glaring hole, it’s gaping. The defensive tackle position may be the worst in the league. Browns have no proven talent at the position and still need to sign some help there. Bringing Clowney back helped the cause, but he is only going to play inside on some passing downs.
As it currently sits, the Browns have Tommy Togiai, Jordan Elliott, Perrion Winfrey, and Sheldon Day to count on. Togiai is a guy that didn’t show much his rookie season and needs to play better in his second season. The Ohio State product is capable, the strength is there, he has to win other ways though.
Elliott is in what looks to be a make-or-break year. The former third-round pick hasn’t shown a ton over his first couple of seasons, nothing to make the Browns think they can heavily rely on him. Winfrey is a rookie, a promising one, but still a rookie. To depend on a rookie to come into the NFL and win in the middle is unfair. The best-case scenario for Winfrey is that he can slowly become that guy for the Browns, one that can help stop the run, we know he can rush the passer.
There are certain things left the Browns need to do this off-season. Finding a defensive tackle is important, as is trading Baker Mayfield and at least part of his contract. For now, both subjects are just a waiting game. Not a matter of if, a matter of when.
Follow Brandon on Twitter at BrandonLittleFB