After the NFL Draft, the NFL officially (not officially) is going into its dead period. With the draft out of the way, teams have filled most of their holes on the roster. It’s time to look deep into the NFL free agents still available and find a couple that can still help the Cleveland Browns this season. Veterans like Mitchell Schwartz and Richard Sherman are looking for their new home for the foreseeable future. After signing cornerback Troy Hill, safety John Johnson III and linebacker Anthony Walker, the Browns don’t have many holes to fill on an already championship-caliber roster.
With that being said, here’s four NFL free agents still available who could help the Browns this year.
NFL Free Agents Still Available Who Can Help the Browns
Sheldon Richardson, DL
Sheldon Richardson was unfortunately a casualty of the Jadeveon Clowney signing. However, it seems like the possibility of a reunion between the Browns and Richardson gets better each day. The interior lineman had a great couple of years in Cleveland. Even though Richardson was productive, he wasn’t productive enough for the team not to pursue other possibilities. Enter Jadeveon Clowney signing. With Clowney on the books, Richardson was a contract that the Browns didn’t need at the time.
However, a reunion between the two is absolutely still in the cards. Richardson has yet to sign with another squad this offseason, and many believe he wants to come back to Cleveland. If the Browns were to sign Richardson, which would mean he takes a pay cut, he would immediately be starter on the defensive line. Hopefully the two sides can agree on a deal, as it would be great to see Richardson back in orange and brown.
Kwon Alexander, LB
If you look at Kwon Alexander’s production over the past couple of years, it’s hard to see why he’s still available on the NFL free agent market. However, one of the major concerns with Alexander is his Achilles. He suffered a torn Achilles in a Week 16 win over the Vikings.
Alexander was the 124th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The 26-year-old was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2015 and played there during his first four seasons in the NFL. The Saints acquired the linebacker for Kiko Alonso and a draft pick. This past year, he only had 30 combined tackles and forced one fumble. He did, however, have three tackles for loss and had one QB hit. The Browns aren’t necessarily thin at linebacker, but he would be an immediate upgrade from Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson. If you mix in Alexander with the rest of the defense, it becomes even more vulnerable.
The only real problem with Alexander is his recent injury. The Browns already have a player who is constantly injured in cornerback Greedy Williams. However, Alexander, even as a two-down linebacker, would immediately improve an already good defense.
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Melvin Ingram, EDGE
Right about the time that the Browns signed Clowney, Melvin Ingram was thought to be a consolation prize if the Browns couldn’t land the former first-round pick. Now, it seems less likely that the two teammates from South Carolina will once again terrorize opposing quarterbacks. During the one year they played together at South Carolina, they combined for 18 sacks, 27 tackles for loss and two interceptions. It’s fair to say that during Ingram’s final year at South Carolina, 2011, his production was better than Clowney’s, who was only still a freshman.
Signing Ingram would instantly add another playmaker to the defense. Last season was his worst year in the NFL by far. He recorded no sacks or tackles for loss. However, he did have an interception during the 2020 campaign. Ingram would help bring veteran leadership to a defensive line rotation that is headlined by Myles Garrett. Ingram may not pack the box score, but he’s an efficient pass rusher that’s at the crossroads of his career. A two or three-year deal in Cleveland could help re-vitalize the veteran’s impact on the defensive side of the ball.
Duke Johnson, RB
Duke Johnson started out his career in Cleveland. The 27-year-old was then traded to Houston in 2019. He had a decent first year in Houston, but this past season he really jumped out. Johnson had 235 rushing yards and a touchdown. He was also a threat in the passing game, as he caught 28 passes for 250 yards and a receiving touchdown. The Browns are set at running back, but the possibility of Johnson re-joining the new and improved Browns offense is still exciting.
In this scenario, Nick Chubb still gets most of the carries, along with Kareem Hunt. Johnson would be a great third down back. As he’s shown over his NFL career, he’s more than capable of being a part of the passing game. Subbing him in on a third and short, or fourth and short immediately helps quarterback Baker Mayfield, as the majority of the defense’s eyes shoot to Johnson. Overall, Browns fans loved him while he was in Cleveland. Fans will love him even more if he’s added to this roster.
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