Cleveland Browns' NFL free-agent signings 2022: Jakeem Grant gives Browns much-needed return threat

Jakeem Grant gives the Browns a return threat they haven't had since Josh Cribbs. Morry Gash/AP Photo

NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2022 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year began March 16 at 4 p.m. ET, which means free-agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2022 NFL draft begins April 28 on ESPN.

Cleveland missed the playoffs a season after a banner year in which the franchise secured its first playoff win in 26 years. But its window to contend is still wide open heading into 2022.

Here's a breakdown of every 2022 NFL free-agent signing by the Cleveland Browns, and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Jakeem Grant Sr., WR/KR

The Browns and the former Chicago Bears kick returner/wide receiver have agreed to a three-year deal.

What it means: The Browns have been desperate for a premier return man, really since Josh Cribbs' final season in Cleveland in 2012. In landing Grant, they finally have one who can make an impact. A Pro Bowl performer last season, Grant has had punt return touchdowns in each of the last two seasons, while averaging more than 11 yards per punt return in 2021 (the Browns as a team averaged 7.2). He can also man kick returns, and deliver big plays out of the slot offensively. The Browns didn't produce enough big plays last season, across the board. Grant will help fix that.

What's the risk: The Browns still need help at receiver, and while Grant will contribute there, his forte is returning punts and kicks. Cleveland did get Amari Cooper in a trade, but with Jarvis Landry gone, the Browns' receiving corps overall still looks underwhelming on paper. Also, Cleveland drafted a player in Grant's mold last year in Demetric Felton. It's unclear how that will impact Felton's role, given he was brought in to return punts and kicks, and provide playmaking out of the slot.

Anthony Walker, LB

The Browns and Walker have agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million, his agents tell ESPN's Adam Schefter.

What it means: Walker played a key role quarterbacking a much-improved Browns defense last season and will be back to do it again. Walker's veteran presence in the locker room is an added bonus for a linebacking unit with so many young players, including rising star Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

What's the risk: Browns GM Andrew Berry likes to plug spots on his team with veterans on one-year deals to mitigate the risk. That's the deal Cleveland brought Walker in on before last season. The Browns have opened up plenty of cap space by releasing center JC Tretter, receiver Jarvis Landry and tight end Austin Hooper. So the $5M contract is no big deal.

Chris Hubbard, OT

Hubbard will sign a one-year deal with Cleveland.

What it means: The Browns are bringing back their swing offensive tackle, who has played a valuable role as a versatile sixth man on the offensive line when healthy. The problem is, Hubbard has dealt with various injuries in recent years. He played in only one game last year, after suffering a season-ending triceps injury. The year before, he played in 11 games with five starts, but once again had a season-ending knee injury.

What's the risk: The Browns have other backup offensive tackles coming back, namely James Hudson III, who was a spot starter as a rookie last year. So, they'd presumably be able to withstand another Hubbard injury a little better in 2022. Still, the Browns will be counting on a player coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries.

Taven Bryan, DT

The Browns have agreed on a one-year deal with former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan, per a source.

What it means: The Browns are looking to potentially replace both starting defensive tackles (Malik McDowell and Malik Jackson), so landing a player with starting experience helps. Bryan, a 2018 first-round draft pick, had 17 career starts in Jacksonville, although he wasn't a starter last season. It remains to be seen what the Browns do otherwise up front. But this is the start of rebuilding the defensive line rotation alongside All-Pro Myles Garrett.

What's the risk: Bryan is signing a one-year deal, following GM Andrew Berry's trend of signing veterans to one-year deals to plug holes. Given the limited commitment on Cleveland's part, this has little risk. Of course, the Browns need to do more work at defensive tackle, either in free agency or the draft.

Corey Bojorquez, P

What it means: The Browns needed a punter after parting ways with former starter Jamie Gillan during last season. Bojorquez has plenty of experience punting in cold weather and should be the favorite to take over the job next season.

What's the risk: Bojorquez has experience, but he hasn't established himself as one of the top punters in the league, and there was a reason the Packers didn't bring him back. Cleveland is banking that Bojorquez is the answer. If he's not, Cleveland's punting carousel will continue to spin.

Ronnie Harrison Jr., S

Harrison is signing back with the Browns on a one-year deal, per his agents.

What it means: The Browns needed a third safety, and after canvassing the market, ultimately ended up re-signing Harrison to a one-year deal. This was a little bit of a surprise. Cleveland seemingly had every intention of moving on from Harrison, who had an up and down two seasons in Cleveland. But as the market dried up, both for Cleveland and Harrison, a reunion became more palpable.

What's the risk: The Browns were eyeing an upgrade for a third safety, but got tied up in trading for QB Deshaun Watson, among other moves. The Browns either couldn't find another option, couldn't convince that player to come to Cleveland or simply couldn't afford that player. Either way, they'll need Harrison to be more consistent now that he'll be the third safety again alongside John Johnson III and Grant Delpit.

Josh Dobbs, QB

Dobbs agreed to a one-year deal with the Browns.

What it means: The Browns signed Dobbs to be their No. 3 QB behind Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett, or No. 2 QB, should Watson get suspended this season. The signing is further evidence Cleveland is not bringing back QB Baker Mayfield, despite GM Andrew Berry hinting otherwise at the possibility. Dobbs' style of play fits the offense Cleveland will be running with Watson, as well.

What's the risk: Dobbs is fine as a No. 3 QB. But he also got very little experience in his time with the Steelers. It's not unthinkable he might have to be the No. 2 QB for a significant period of time. The Browns are banking in that scenario Brissett and even Dobbs, in the event of injury, will be able to keep the team above water and in playoff contention.