With a new front office in town, what players could be on the move and what does new head coach Kevin Stefanski have in mind for Baker Mayfield? The Broulis Beat Report takes a look.
BROWNS ON THE MOVE-
Joe Schobert (linebacker)- Drafted by Cleveland in the fourth round in 2016, Schobert has been a solid player for the Browns. Schobert is an unrestricted free agent now. When it comes to rush defense, Schobert struggles tackling, but turns into a Pro Bowler when it comes to pass coverage. Based on general manager Andrew Berry’s comments recently by saying Joe Schobert “Has earned the right to test the market”, I’m going to say Joe will be playing elsewhere next season.
I don’t like that. I think that would be a huge loss for Cleveland’s defense. Schobert has been a model of consistency and a pro on and off the field.
Christian Kirksey (linebacker)- Kirksey was drafted in the third round in 2014 out of Iowa. Here is the big problem. When healthy, Kirksey can be a good linebacker. He’s a smart player, very physical and a leader on and off the field. No, that’s not the problem. The big problem is Christian being on the field. Kirksey missed nine games total with multiple injuries.
In 2020, Kirksey is owed $7.7 million, $8.2 in 2021 and will become an UFA (unrestricted free agent).
Unless Cleveland thinks second-year man Mack Wilson is ready to step in and even Sione Takitaki if they plan to lose both, I’d resign Schobert and keep Kirksey. At least for another year.
Olivier Vernon (defensive end)- Acquired through a trade with the New York Giants, I don’t see the Browns paying an injury prone Vernon $15 million. If Vernon is on this roster come next season, I’d be shocked. They could draft a DE later in the draft to take his spot.
Rashard Higgins (wide receiver)- An unrestricted free-agent this summer, I don’t think Higgins would get much, maybe from a team that is over-paying. I could see Cleveland resigning Higgins. He might even have a bigger role depending on when Jarvis Landry comes back from hip surgery.
Odell Beckham Jr. (wide receiver)- I expect Cleveland to keep Beckham for now. With that said, I wouldn’t be shocked if GM Andrew Berry can trade him for an offensive lineman or a package deal. I’m on record of saying I wouldn’t mind trade OBJ if it meant giving QB Baker Mayfield more protection and/or helping out the defense. You don’t have to have a top flight receiver to win in the NFL.
Cleveland would also free up a lot of cap-space if they traded Beckham.
David Njoku (tight end)- The two main reasons I see the Browns keeping Njoku. First, this is the final year of his rookie contract. Owed only $1.7 million. Second, Njoku is 6’4 and 246. He’s very athletic for his size. If Njoku could block better and consistently catch passes, he’d be a Pro Bowler. I see Njoku back.
ABOUT BAKER AND STEFANSKI-
Stefanski has made it clear that he’s had discussions with Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mostly about working on being a better quarterback. Whether that be working on his foot work or being in shape. He must put more work in.
I think Stefanski is going to have Mayfield under center a lot more than he’s used to. That will help the rushing attack and sell the play-action much better than being in the shotgun so much.
Hearing only a few Browns fans wanting the Browns to draft another quarterback high in the draft due to Baker’s poor season last year makes me roll my eyes. That’s an idiotic idea. Cleveland has more pressing needs and should be doing everything in their power to build this team around Mayfield.
They invested the number one overall pick in Baker. There’s no reason, at least for this year, to freak out over one bad year.
Improve the offensive line, make sure Baker is doing his part and see how this season goes.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis