NFL Offseason Previews: Cleveland Browns
The NFL offseason is upon us, and teams will begin working to craft their 2023 rosters in the coming months. In this series of offseason previews, we will look at what each team has to work with and their biggest needs. Today we begin with the Cleveland Browns offseason preview.
As a reminder, here are dates to keep in mind for the 2023 NFL offseason:
- March 7: deadline for teams to use the franchise tag
- March 13: legal tampering period opens
- March 15: NFL free agency begins and the new league year starts
- April 21: deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets
- April 27-29: NFL draft
- May 1: deadline for teams to exercise 5th-year options on 2020 first-round draft picks
- July 15: deadline for franchise tag players to sign an extension
You can find previous teams offseason previews here: Bears | Bengals |
After going 11-5 in Kevin Stefanski’s first season in Cleveland and making the playoffs, the Browns enter the offseason on the heels of back-to-back losing seasons. Cleveland was 7-10 in 2022. However, they were without quarterback Deshaun Watson for the first 11 games of the season as he served a suspension for sexual assault allegations.
Watson threw for 1,102 yards, seven touchdowns, and five interceptions, leading the Browns to a 3-3 record down the stretch. Jacoby Brissett threw for 2,608 yards, 12 touchdowns, and six interceptions in Watson’s absence. The Browns were 4-7 with Brissett under center. Nick Chubb was among the NFL’s best rushers all season. But the Browns’ defense allowed 22.4 points per game, which ranked 20th in the league.
Key Positional Needs
Here’s where the Browns need to find help this offseason:
Key Free Agents
Here’s a look at the Browns upcoming key free agents:
- Kareem Hunt (RB)
- Jacoby Brissett (QB)
- Ethan Pocic (C)
- Jadaveon Clowney (EDGE)
- Deion Jones (LB)
Salary Cap & Draft Capital
Here’s a look at the salary cap room and draft capital that the Bengals have to work with this offseason:
- Current draft picks: 42 (2), 98 (3), 111 (4), 126 (4), 142 (5), 144 (5), 190 (6), 231 (7)
- Cap space: -$14.6M
The Browns know they will have Watson under center for all 17 games next season, but they have needs and very little cap space to work with. Cleveland also has no first-rounder (due to the Watson trade), complicating their offseason even more.
The Browns’ big focus this offseason should be on the defensive line. Cleveland was 25th in rushing yards allowed (2,295) and rushing yards per attempt (4.7) last season. Myles Garrett is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but the Cleveland defense was putrid against the run.
Cleveland also needs to figure out their wide receivers room. Amari Cooper presents the only cap relief ($8.6 million) regarding cuts. But that would leave the Browns with Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jakeem Grant, and David Bell.
Cleveland has to find help along the defensive line and at wide receiver through the draft, and they’ll have to do it in the middle rounds.
If you’re looking for more offseason reading, Sam Hoppen at 4for4 (our sister site) is previewing each division: