The Cleveland Browns had such high expectations going into 2021, but with their inconsistent play on the field and the chaos off the field, what can GM Andrew Berry and Head Coach Kevin Stefanski do to keep the Browns from being the 'Mistake on the Lake' once again?
2021 Record: 8-9 (3rd in AFC North)
GM: Andrew Berry
HC: Kevin Stefanski
OC: Alex Van Pelt
DC: Joe Woods
2021 Statistical Leaders
Baker Mayfield: 253-418 60.5% 3,010 17-13 (14 games)
Nick Chubb: 228-1259-8
Jarvis Landry: 52-570-2
Austin Hooper: 38-345-3
Anthony Walker: 113 Tak, 2 PD
Denzel Ward: 43 Tak, 3 Int, 10 PD
Myles Garrett: 51 Tak, 16.0 Sak
Notable Free Agents:
Pos, Name, Age, Contract Status, 2021 Snap Count
Edge - Jadeveon Clowney (29), Void, 60.4%
Edge - Takkarist McKinley (27), UFA, 28.5%
TE - David Njoku (26), UFA, 60.5%
LB - Anthony Walker (27), UFA, 62.6%
(9) Projected Cost of Rookie Picks in 2022: $4.9m
Round 1 #13
Round 2 #44
Round 3 #78
Round 3 #98
Round 4 #106
Round 5 #155
Round 6 #192
Round 7 #221
Compensatory Picks: 3rd (Kwesi Adofo-Mensah)
The Browns are currently 23.5m under the cap with 52 players currently under contract so they find themselves in a spot a little better than their divisional rival, Baltimore where they have to make a decision about their franchise quarterback, Baker Mayfield. Of the Quarterbacks taken in the 2018 NFL draft, Sam Darnold has been traded to Carolina from New York, Josh Allen has his new deal, there has been an APB for Josh Rosen since he was drafted and the final two from that first round are Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield awaiting deals. The Browns could take a similar road if they think that Baker is their guy, but with the changeover happening in Cleveland all the time, consistency has been tough for him.
In the likely event that the Browns decide that Baker Mayfield is their franchise quarterback moving forward, they can give themselves some cap relief in the first year, however with the looming deal of Denzel Ward (also taken in the 1st round as Baker Mayfield in the same draft) Cleveland will have to make a decision.
Jarvis Landry has seen his numbers drop in Cleveland since his arrival while his contract has gone in the other direction. Now, at age 30, the Browns might want to think about either an extension or moving on from their second LSU Wide Receiver in as many years. Landry is set to have a 16.3m against the cap in 2022 on the last year of his deal. The Browns can clear 14.8m if they simply just walk away from Landry and start new in the 2022 Draft.
Jack Conklin is also in the “final” year of his deal as his contract voids in 2023 and 2024. He has a 15m cap hit in 2022 so if they wanted to keep him, an extension would be necessary.
Many mock drafts have Cleveland selecting a wideout with tier 13th pick, but there are many glaring holes for the Browns before the NFL Draft on April 28th. They need to resolve their cap situation and many decisions have to be made for players who are on the final year of their deals in 2022. With the Free Agency set to take off March 16th, the Browns have to secure their bottom line if they want to walk away from players and add some new ones to make a run in the AFC North.