The free agency period kicks off three days from now in the NFL, many suitors will be vying to fill specific needs for their respective teams. Many will choose the draft as their number one resource to fill those holes on their team but others with significant cap space may pursue a hot free agent on the market. Do not be surprised if the Browns make a push at one highly sought after free agent, as they were one of the most active organizations in free agency last year. Cleveland leveled their front office though, completely removing all prior members of the staff and naming Ray Farmer the new general manager of the Browns. It will be interesting to see how aggressive their new head of the office may be with the countless holes on offense needing to be solved, along with a few positions on defense. The NFL Draft Daily will try to lend a helping hand to the Browns new head of office, and dabble through the respective free agency players available.
There is one usual common practice most teams like to follow during this time of the year, sign their own potential free agents, especially impact players deserving of a new contract. One of the Browns players they must try to keep is T.J. Ward. The hard hitting strong safety has been a mainstay in Cleveland’s secondary, having started all four years after being drafted in 2010 in the second round by the Browns. Ward has been a constant play maker in the backfield, and has seemingly improved his coverage skills as his experience in the NFL has grown. Ward is considered the second best safety available next to the Buffalo Bills safety, Jairus Byrd, and will demand a hefty price compared to his rookie contract. Another key free agent they need to reconsider keeping is one of the league’s best centers, Alex Mack. Considered a building piece and the quarterback of the offensive line, the center position is just as valuable as any; especially when the Browns plan on bringing in a inexperienced quarterback; potentially with one of their first picks in the draft. Alex Mack is a pro bowl quality lineman and may also require quite a bit of dough to keep him in Cleveland.
Jairus Byrd has become one of the most mentioned free agent names associated with the Browns. New head coach Mike Pettine coached Byrd in Buffalo and may want a familiar face to help simply his defense to the rest of the team. Byrd will not be easily wowed though as he will demand a high price on the market; as he is widely considered one, if not the best, safety in all of football. Some of the open holes may also be addressed as well while the Browns look to solidify certain positions like running back, or the corner position opposite of Joe Haden. A possibility at the running back position may be someone like former Houston running back, Ben Tate. Other rumors swirling around for the Browns is that they may be in the market for a possible wide receiver like Julian Edelman, or maybe a top corner like Alterraun Verner, to pair along with Haden. Anything is possible for the Browns as they look to turn around their franchise in the immediate future. Look for Cleveland to possibly sign one of their top two free agents while bringing in another big name to the Browns roster. Cleveland’s new front office is looking to solve their key issues through the draft and fill holes next week, It will sure interesting to see if the Browns can potentially land one of the top free agents in the market.
This article is one in a series, published daily, which provides analysis, insight, and predictions leading up to the NFL draft and beyond.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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