Improvements: Potential Boost at Quarterback
Cleveland Browns made one of the biggest trades of the offseason, acquiring Deshaun Watson. Of course, this is a big upgrade over Baker Mayfield. However, the question is will Watson play?
The off-the-field problems for Watson are glaring. Suspension rumors continue to swirl around the superstar QB. Plus, lawsuits continue to come in. There is no guarantee Watson will play anytime soon. After the trade, the Browns fully guaranteed Watson’s $230 million contract.
The trade for Watson is still a what-if situation. Will it be a good trade if he does not face a penalty from the league? Absolutely, the Browns would be Super Bowl contenders. But, who knows what happens at this point?
Stayed the Same: Overall Defense
On defense, the unit looks about the same. Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney will lead the pass rush again. Cleveland traded for a good rotational defensive end in Chase Winovich. Their defensive tackles will look a little different with the addition of Taven Bryan and Perrion Winfrey.
In the secondary, every starter is the same. Denzel Ward was extended on a 5-year, $100.5 million deal.
DENZEL WARD TO THE HOUSE
— PFF (@PFF) November 7, 2021
Cleveland added depth by drafting Martin Emerson in the third round. At linebacker, the unit looks identical minus, Mack Wilson.
Overall, the Browns should have a good defense. Keeping their defense unchanged is not a bad thing. Young starters like Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah or Greg Newsome could quickly turn into stars.
Got Worse: Center
To begin the offseason, Cleveland made the surprising move to cut J.C. Tretter. He started 16 games at center in every season from 2017-21. Tretter has consistently been an above-average center since starting.
The Browns moved on for salary cap reasons. The starting job falls to Nick Harris. He was a fifth-round pick in 2020 and has two career starts. At 23, Harris is unproven.
There will be growing pains with Harris starting. Cleveland could miss Tretter in the 2022 season.
If Watson plays, the Browns could be a Super Bowl contender. However, the decision to acquire the controversial QB along with a fully-guaranteed contract is head-scratching. The roster looks the part, but at what cost? The off-the-field element remains an issue in Cleveland.
- Week 1: 9/11 vs Panthers, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 2: 9/18 vs Jets, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 3: 9/22 vs Steelers (Thursday), 8:15 p.m. Amazon Prime Video
- Week 4: 10/2 vs Falcons, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 5: 10/9 vs Chargers, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 6: 10/16 vs Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 7: 10/23 vs Ravens, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 8: 10/31 vs Bengals (Monday), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
- Week 9: BYE
- Week 10: 11/13 vs Dolphins, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 11: 11/20 vs Bills, 1 p.m. CBS
- Week 12: 11/27 vs Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 13: 12/4 vs Texans, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 14: 12/11 vs Bengals, 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 15: 12/17 or 18 vs Ravens, TBD, TBD
- Week 16: 12/24 vs Saints (Saturday), 1 p.m., CBS
- Week 17: 1/1 vs Commanders, 1 p.m., Fox
- Week 18: 1/7 or 8 vs Steelers, TBD, TBD