The Cleveland Browns are one of the teams that Grantland’s Bill Barnwell thinks should dominate free agency. If his plan comes to fruition it will certainly be a one of the most active free agency periods in Cleveland Browns history.
Barnwell claims the Browns should re-sign T.J. Ward, while acquiring the services of Knowshon Moreno, Geoff Schwartz, Brandon Spikes, Calvin Pace and Antonio Cromartie. That’s a whole lot of imported talent. Let’s go through these options a bit.
A lot of it makes sense though. I think the Browns should bring back T.J. Ward. Ultimately I don’t think he’s going to demand the kind of money on the open market that everyone else seems to think he will. Remember back to last season when the Browns signed Paul Kruger. Kruger ended up signing a rich deal, but even at five years with more than $40 million of potential value, it still turned out to be $20 million in guaranteed dollars. Compared to what the rumors were prior to Kruger’s signing, he actually came cheaper than the hype. Some might argue the Browns still paid too much, but that’s what happens in free agency. The point is that maybe T.J. Ward will end up coming back at something less than what people seem to think.
Geoff Schwartz makes tons of sense. He’s a professional NFL guard and the Browns need help. Additionally, it might be a bit gimmicky, but I can’t imagine putting the Schwartz brothers together on the Browns’ offensive line will make either one of them worse. Mitchell Schwartz has had an uneven first two years in his career, but as the Browns enter a new offensive system under Kyle Shanahan, he might just be a better fit. We’ll see.
Brandon Spikes also makes a lot of sense. The former Patriot has reportedly had some maturity issues, missing meetings for example, but is a play-maker. He could step in for the Browns where D’Qwell Jackson’s departure leaves the team thin. Plus, Spikes sounds like he might have learned a thing or two about his behavior in New England.
Speaking on NFL AM Spikes said, “I think overall (if) I could do some things differently I would,” he said, “but it is what it is. It’s in the past and I think it’s just time to move on.”
On the outside, I’m unsure why Barnwell would put Calvin Pace on the Browns as the team has some depth at OLB with Mingo, Kruger, Sheard, and Groves.
Last, but not least, Barnwell pegs Antonio Cromartie with the second corner spot for the Browns opposite Joe Haden. While this makes some sense, I would be surprised if the Browns go out of their way to sign a 29-year-old corner. Maybe it’s a somewhat new day with slightly different strategies now that Mike Pettine and Ray Farmer are shepherding the roster, but we’ll see.
Either way, I think Barnwell’s right about one thing. I expect the Browns to be pretty active. I guess I would hope the Browns do something in the way of either wide receiver or running back in free agency ahead of the NFL draft.