The Cleveland Browns ended their offseason program on June 14. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals: The Browns had two clear goals: Develop some clarity at the quarterback position and bolster the roster with more experienced players. They had to find someone who could bring stability to the position at which they have started 28 players since 1999, and they did that when they gave up a third-round pick for Tyrod Taylor. Taylor immediately becomes the starter. How long he holds the job is up to him. To bolster the roster, the team added 14 players via free agency or trade. All bring some level of experience and talent to a team that didn’t win a game in 2016.
How they fared: Above average
Move I liked: The Browns brought great potential to the wide receiver room when they traded for Jarvis Landry, a three-time Pro Bowler who had 400 catches the past four seasons in Miami. The move accomplished three things: It brought a high-energy player to a team that needed positive energy coming off a winless season. It gave the receiver group as a whole a huge jolt; pairing Landry with Josh Gordon gives the Browns one of the best tandems they've had in years. Finally, it provided a level of insurance if Gordon cannot stay on the field. When Gordon was suspended the first 10 games last season, the Browns had nobody to rely on. If Gordon has another slip, the team will have Landry on the field.
Move I didn’t like: This could work out the way the Browns envision, but taking Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick has risks that have not gone away. It’s unfair to call this pick a mistake, but it’s not wrong to say there are concerns Mayfield must answer. His approach and demeanor have been excellent, but he has to overcome some things to be the long-term answer the Browns need. In offseason work, he at times got lost amidst the trees of offensive linemen and pass-rushers. If that happened in drills without pads, Mayfield might find it tougher in full-speed drills. The Browns believe in Mayfield, and they could prove correct. They have to be right, though; teams cannot afford to make a mistake with the first overall pick.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Left tackle. Joe Thomas’ retirement leaves a huge need at the most important position on the offensive line. Shon Coleman got the longest look in the offseason, but the Browns have to work out who starts at the position and how much they can ask from him. Thomas was so good that the team could start each game plan assuming he could handle the opposing team’s best pass-rusher. It will require some work on the coaching staff’s part to account for the drop in talent from Thomas to his replacement.
Quotable: “No more freaking losing.” A soaking wet Hue Jackson said that after jumping into the 57-degree waters of Lake Erie with about 150 other members of the organization on June 1. Jackson’s jump fulfilled a pledge he made after the 2016 season but was also something he said would serve as “a cleanse” for the organization. To Jackson, the lake jump purged the stain of 1-15 and 0-16 and allows the Browns to move forward with a different feel and culture.
Salary-cap space: The Browns have $69.8 million in cap space remaining, according to ESPN’s Roster Management System. This positions them well for future additions to a roster that saw 17 veterans added via free agency or trade in the offseason.
2018 draft picks: 1a. QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma); 1b. CB Denzel Ward (Ohio State); 2a. OL Austin Corbett (Nevada); 2b. RB Nick Chubb (Georgia); 3. DE Chad Thomas (Miami, Fla.); 4. WR Antonio Callaway (Florida); 5. LB Genard Avery (Memphis); 6a. WR Damion Ratley (Texas A&M); 6b. CB Simeon Thomas (Louisiana-Lafayette)
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: TE Julian Allen (Southern Mississippi); WR Evan Berry (Tennessee); DB Elijah Campbell (Northern Iowa); OL Christian DiLauro (Illinois); DL Daniel Ekuale (Washington State); DL Marcell Frazier (Missouri); LB DeMarquis Gates (Mississippi); DB Micah Hannemann (BYU); OL Desmond Harrison (West Georgia); RB Dontrell Hilliard (Tulane); OL Fred Lauina (Oregon State); DB Montrel Meander (Grambling State); QB Brogan Roback (Eastern Michigan); DB Tigle Sankoh (Greenwich, England); WR Da'Mari Scott (Fresno State); DL Trenton Thompson (Georgia); WR Derrick Willies (Texas Tech)
Unrestricted free agents signed: OT Chris Hubbard (Steelers); CB TJ Carrie (Raiders); RB Carlos Hyde (49ers); TE Darren Fells (Lions); DE Chris Smith (Bengals); CB Terrance Mitchell (Chiefs); QB Drew Stanton (Cardinals); CB E.J. Gaines (Bills); LB Mychal Kendricks (Eagles); OT Donald Stephenson (Broncos); WR Jeff Janis (Packers)
Restricted free agents signed: None
Players acquired via trade: QB Tyrod Taylor (Bills); WR Jarvis Landry (Dolphins); FS Damarious Randall (Packers)