Free agency for the 2022 offseason is set to begin March 16th. Leading up to that date we are going to compile a list of players that the Browns’ front office should be targeting. Cleveland enters the offseason with $29 million to spend in free agency. Obviously that number is subject to change barring any cuts, extensions, or in-house re-signings.
Since his tenure began in the 2020 offseason, Andrew Berry has made a number of big time free agent signings. That offseason was highlighted by the signing of right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper. At least one of those contracts is working out well. 2021 saw that focus shift to the defense where the likes of edge defender Jadeveon Clowney was signed. As well as former Rams teammates John Johnson III (safety) and Troy Hill (cornerback). Berry isn’t afraid to spend in the offseason and his hit rate has been above average.
One of the biggest needs on the offensive side of the ball is at the wide receiver position. The rumor mill is already buzzing about a possible departure for Jarvis Landry, but regardless talent does need to be added. Rashard Higgins is set to hit free agency yet again and many doubt he will be re-signing with Cleveland for a third time. That would leave Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz, and Demetric Felton as the only wide receivers on the roster. Not an ideal spot for a team that hopes to be in playoff contention. Luckily this is a strong free agent wide receiver class. Let’s examine how Cleveland can add some weapons this offseason.
Projected contract figures are courtesy of PFF.com.
Allen Robinson, 3 years, $45 million
Robinson profiles as a true number one option for an offense, which is something Cleveland desperately needs. He is also a bit of a journeyman wide receiver who has spent time with various teams and catching passes from various quarterbacks. Robinson has shown throughout his career that he can produce despite the player delivering him the ball. He is coming off of a down year with the Chicago Bears, but there are many that will lay that blame with Matt Nagy. He could be the prize of this free agency class and make an immediate contribution. Robinson is 28 years old, so don’t expect this signing to change the team’s draft needs.
D.J. Chark, 3 years, $36 million
Our second target is another former Jacksonville Jaguar. D.J. Chark was a second round selection in the 2018 draft class and keeps the Cleveland tradition of preferring SEC talents. LSU specifically in this case. Chark suffered a fractured ankle in Week 4 of this past season, but will have nearly 11 months of recovery time before the 2022 season begins. Chark had a breakout year in 2019 and was named to the Pro Bowl. He has elite speed and will provide a much needed vertical deep threat for this offense.
Michael Gallup, 1 year, $5 million
There will be much value to be had in this free agency class given that we can assume players will return from injury. Gallup suffered a torn ACL in Week 17 of this past season. However, we have all seen the advancements of modern medicine in the sports science field. A torn ACL isn’t the death rattle it once was. There are hopes that Gallup could be ready for Week One of 2022, but the more realistic scenario would be Weeks 5 through 7. In Dallas we have seen him deployed in multiple positions and would pair well if Cleveland could sign a number one option.
Cedrick Wilson, 2 years $12.5 million
Our final option for free agency is another former Dallas Cowboy. Cedrick Wilson was often overlooked as the third and sometimes fourth option in Dallas. However, he performed whenever called upon. He profiles best as a slot wide receiver and could be the final piece to a complete position overhaul by the Cleveland Browns. This would be the third signing from the 2018 draft class which when paired with Baker, Ward, and Chubb would make it the most important draft class for Cleveland to date.
Ideally Cleveland would add two to three of these players this offseason to fill out the receiver room. If the Browns were able to do that, it would really open up the options when selecting at 13 in the draft this year. Based on most industry mocks the Browns wind up with a really good receiver or a really good edge player at that spot. By attacking needs in free agency it gives Andrew Berry the flexibility to go best player available in the draft. That is a philosophy for building a winning franchise.
Be sure to check out the next article in the series as we will examine the defensive line position. The Browns have needs all along the defensive front and we will analyze how they might be able to attack those needs in free agency. If you like the content be sure to follow us on Twitter @FootballSapient and myself at @DanT_NFL for all the latest in Browns this offseason.