Over the next couple of days, I hope to deliver a series of thoughts on what has happened the first few days of free agency and examine what it does for each team and see what fantasy implications could come out of all of the moves.
Lets start with everyone’s favorite downtrodden squad; The Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have been incredibly active so far this off season, trading for WR Jarvis Landry, QB Tyrod Taylor, and CB Damarious Randall. Signing FA RB Carlos Hyde, TE Darren Fells, and CB Terrance Mitchell. And that’s not even starting to look at the fact this team has 6 draft picks in the top 75 overall picks this year!
If you think 6 top 75 picks is impressive, here’s stat to blow your mind, no WR for Cleveland reached 30 receptions last year. Duke Johnson led the team with 74 catches, followed by Seth DeValve with 33…Seth DeValve!! Njoku then had 32, and you have to go to the 4th on the team to find the first WR, Ricardo Louis, who had 27 receptions. 27! 2016 1st round pick Corey Coleman had 23……This has to change.
Enter Jarvis Landry, a guy who has caught the most passes through his first 4 years then any player in NFL history (400). While not a big fan of Landry myself, he fills a need for Cleveland, he plays hard in the middle of the field and can help Cleveland move the chains. Landry could also help open things up for Cleveland’s outside receivers, allowing Coleman to get deep and take advantage of Tyrod’s history of accurate deep ball passing. I still think Cleveland has to add another WR in the draft. If DJ Moore falls to pick 33 (which would be a crime by itself), they have to add him to this roster. Coleman, Moore, Landry, and Duke Johnson could be a difficult group for opposing defense’s to slow down. That is of course assuming Coleman’s hand somehow doesn’t shatter before week 6.
Back to Landry though, with his 400 career catches he is averaging 10.1 YPC. That is not super great for a WR, but its wonderful for an RB. And Cleveland has one of these RB’s in Duke Johnson, who has a career 9.3 YPC.
In all honesty, Landry’s skill set is similar to Duke Johnson’s. Matt Kelley once called Jarvis Landry a “running back that is playing wide receiver,” and I completely agree with that analysis. But having two shorter yard options, that can win in the middle of the field, for new QB Taylor, is not a bad strategy for a team that was 28th overall in 3rd down conversion percentage…although Landry was a Dolphin last year and Miami was 32nd. Sooo was Landry a part of that or is it on Cutler. I’ll let you decide.
And speaking of Duke Johnson, let’s move over to Cleveland’s run game. I love the Carlos Hyde signing for Cleveland. Hyde is a better version of Isiah Crowell, but I would’t say a much version. But either way I would rather see this team look elsewhere with picks 1.01 and 1.04 than Saquon Barkely. Don’t get me wrong I love Barkely! Like a lot, we will discuss that more later but for this team, a top 5 pick on a RB is a luxury they just can’t afford. Dallas could afford it with Zeke the same way Jacksonville could last year with Fournette, because they had so many other positions locked in. Cleveland just does not at this moment.
You have to take a chance on a QB with this draft class, and Sashi Brown knew it, and that’s why he was aggressively acquiring picks over the past few years. Hyde allows this team the ability to do that. Heck has deep as this RB class is you can still find wonderful talent at the position with a 3rd or 4th round pick so Cleveland can still add a difference making back if you really think they need one. They just don’t need Barkley at 1 or 4.
While Hyde had some early injury issues in his career but in 2016 he carried the ball 217 times at 4.6 YPC and last season he had a career high 240 carries at 3.9 YPC. An average of 4.25 YPC over the past two seasons on 457 attempts, on a bad San Fran team, with a much less impressive offensive line than Crowell had in Cleveland. Crowell over the past two seasons with that line, 4.45 YPC on 404 attempts.
On the other side of the ball I like the Damarious Randall trade a lot, and not just for Cleveland, but for Green Bay, who acquired DeShone Kizer in the deal. Kizer got a raw deal last year, I thought he was incredibly talented coming into the league and wanted to see him go somewhere and sit behind a starter and lean for a couple of years just like Aaron Rodgers did with Favre. Now Kizer gets to do that with none other than Rodgers himself. Although I can’t help but wonder if GB is actually starting to plan on possibly losing Rodgers before his career is done. There have been a lot of odd things going on in Green Bay, but that’s for a later time as well.
Joe Thomas announced his retirement as well and that is a blow to this Cleveland O line that has been above average the past few seasons. With Nate Solder off the market now its a weak OT FA market so i imagine they will look this way as well in the draft with some of those many picks they hold.
Yesterday they traded away Jason McCourtey and a 2018 7th round pick to New England for a 2018 sixth round pick. Now while I don’t love that move for Cleveland I cant help but think of the shenanigans these twins can now get into in New England. haha Now that’s a hot take!
Now with all the good things I’ve said, this team is still being coached by Hue Jackson and Greg Williams, so my faith is just not with them. I hope for Browns fans this team turns a corner and they sure have made some decent moves and are starting to have a roster that is full of a lot of talent.
Now the big question is…can they put it all together??