American Football

5 Browns free agents the team should re-sign before the free agency period begins

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There are some really good players on their free-agent list

The Cleveland Browns have 26 free agents this year. GM Andrew Berry has until the league year begins on March 13 to re-sign any of these players or offer new multi-year deals, or extensions. After March 13, the start of the new league year, then all of them are unrestricted free agents and can negotiate with any team they wish and find employment elsewhere.

RELATED: BROWNS FREE AGENT LIST

Numerous players on the Browns list are really good players and in positions of need for Cleveland. Berry can’t sign them all, and we wish he could bring back quite a few. But here is a list of the top five that Berry could feel comfortable re-signing before the league year begins and help this ballclub.

In no particular order:


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DT Maurice Hurst

The ability to stop the run took a nose dive after Hurst went down with a bicep injury in the Week 14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The talented defensive tackle was a huge surprise with his overall play during the season and eventually was taking snaps away from starter Jordan Elliott and the other backup Shelby Harris.

Hurst provided a stout run defense up front and paired with Dalvin Tomlinson and last year’s rookie Siaka Ika would provide the ability to plug gaps and create balance advantages while providing a good pass rush. Hurst has quickness and a relentless motor with a quick punch to disengage blockers.

Despite playing a rotational role last year, Hurst was a Top-20 DT in pass rush win rate. He has stated he is happy playing in Cleveland and would prefer to return. This is one move that both Berry and Hurst’s camp should get done.

2023 salary: $1.08 million


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S Rodney McLeod

The defensive backfield for the Browns was stellar this past season, with an emphasis on the cornerback situation. But the safety group held its own until the injury bug crept up and decimated this group.

Grant Delpit led the team in tackles until he went down with a groin injury and was placed on IR on December 13. Meanwhile, Juan Thornhill had his ups and downs with various nicks throughout the year including a calf issue that lingered throughout the season. This meant McLeod was needed more than playing the nickel or being another safety whenever the 4-2-5 was implemented.

A 12-year veteran, McLeod is a sure tackler who possesses good coverage skills and does not shy away from sacrificing his body in run support. Is a savvy vet that understands how to sift through traffic to make plays. His forte is he can key on his run fit early. McLeod shines in pass coverage with great breaks on underneath passes with good closing speed.

The Browns are happy with their younger backups D’Anthony Bell and Ronnie Hickman, but each has come along slowly with limited snaps. McLeod is an experienced player who is a coach on the field that can be just plug and play when other injuries arise going forward without breaking the bank.

2023 salary: $1.318 million


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P Corey Bojorquez

For many years, the Browns tinkered with one punter after another. Then Bojo shows up and displays amazing kicking skills with plenty of balls that land inside the 20 ranked fifth league-wise in this category. The knock on him is that he often out-kicks his coverage which allows their opponent the opportunity to have a return.

Bojo has a cannon for a leg. He finished as the ninth-best punter in the league. His average was 49.4 which is just 3.7 yards off the league leader. He ranked fourth in both net yards (3,694), total yards (4,294), and number of punts (87). Bojo’s longest punt of the season was 73 yards.

2023 salary: $1.325 million


NFL: AUG 17 Preseason - Browns at Eagles
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OG Michael Dunn

Every year, the Browns keep 10 offensive linemen at the final cutdown. During the heat of the season, that number is not nearly enough. Attrition creeps into every ballclub, but for some reason, Cleveland has more injured offensive linemen than most.

Dunn has proved that he is a valued commodity along the line. He has versatility in that he can play all five positions, although offensive guard is where he fits the best. He has been inserted for LG Joel Bitonio more than once with his assorted ailments. Dunn played 32 games at left tackle, seven at right tackle, and nine at right guard while in college. He has played some center in high school although he was primarily a tackle.

Pro Football Focus gave Dunn a grade of 76.2 this past season with only two penalties and one sack allowed. He has now played for Cleveland for four years with six starts but has played in 40 games. But the Browns have played a vital role in shaping him into a better player. Dunn particularly credited offensive line coach Bill Callahan for furthering his development.

Dunn offers the franchise the ability to bring him in once yet another teammate along the line becomes injured for a few plays, several games, or the remainder of the schedule.

2023 salary: $1.01 million


NFL: DEC 24 Browns at Texans
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LB Sione Takitaki

Versatility is Takitaki’s trademark as he excels at the SAM position and has also taken reps in the middle when Anthony Walker went down for the season. He simply does his job and is a workout prince. He also has value as a locker room presence.

Takitaki had 65 tackles in just seven starts last year so he knows how to get to the ball. He plays like this is his last game with a high level of pursuit. He plays faster than his timed speed which in college was 4.63. He also holds good reaction quickness and can play all four downs. Takitaki is sometimes an erratic tackler in space and lacks top-end speed, but his short-area bursts help him get into position to make plays.

2023 salary: $2.43 million


Which do you think the Browns should re-sign quickly? Which do you think they will get done before the league year starts?

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