Back in January after the Kitchens hire, John Dorsey said in an interview with 92.3 The Fan that he will not “spend like a drunken sailor” in Free Agency. John Dorsey is a strong believer that teams who overspend in free agency often do not get the bang for their buck. Often the big name deals we hear about do not come to fruition with on-field production.
But with just over $79 million in cap space, per Over The Cap, the Browns are in a unique position to go for it all right now. The young core of Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and Denzel Ward are all on cheap, rookie deals. This gives the Browns the option to spend money on the big names who end up hitting the open market.
Why Dorsey should be wary of spending in free agency
Key pieces of the roster will need extensions sooner rather than later. Myles Garrett is going to be getting a J.J. Watt type offer from the Browns in a year. Joe Schobert will also need to get paid the same year, along with Damarious Randall. Those are three building blocks on defense who will need to be locked up longterm. Jabrill Peppers’ payday is also in the near future. The most important building block of the team, Baker Mayfield, is expected to get a massive contract extension in a couple years when his deal is up. With every game Mayfield plays, the more money he will earn, granted he plays the way the number one pick has so far.
The Browns also gave Jarvis Landry a five year extension, with an out after year two. This deal does not hamper the Browns as much as these other extensions will, because they front loaded Landry’s contract to get the guaranteed money in the first two years. The Browns will be able to get out of that contract after the 2019 season to shore up other assets.
John Dorsey stated he needs to look “3-4 years down the road” when it comes to free agency because he has to have flexible money to keep this young core intact in the future.
Why Dorsey should go for it all now
The Browns remind me a lot of the LA Rams from an offseason ago. The Rams had a young core ready to compete and they took the offseason by storm. Here is a quick recap of the Rams’ offseason from a year ago:
- Traded for CB Marcus Peters
- Franchise tagged S Lamarcus Joyner
- Traded for CB Aquib Talib
- Signed CB Sam Shields
- Resigned DB Nickell Robey-Coleman
- Signed DT Ndamukong Suh to a 1 year, $14 million deal
- Traded for Brandin Cooks, then signed him to a 5 year, $81 million extension
- Signed OL Robert Havenstein
- Resigned Aaron Donald to a 6 year, $135 million extension
The Rams, as you know, went on to appear in the Super Bowl.
With the fifth-most cap space this season, the Cleveland Browns can make some similar moves that the Rams did. Players like Grady Jarrett, Frank Clark, Ronald Darby, Tyrell WIlliams may hit the open market, and all of these are positions of need for the Browns. With a similar young core ready to make a name for themselves and flexible cap space, this could be an alley the Browns explore.
What will likely happen
I expect Dorsey to add a lot of depth and second-tier free agents. The Browns are in the process of evaluating current players, and I expect Dorsey will want to add depth and players who will push for starting jobs.
It is best to roll with what you have and trade for veteran players with the many picks the Browns have. Expect the Browns to roll heavily with what they have, adding depth, and maybe one big name free agent. It is too risky to overspend in free agency, especially when there are a handful of players on the roster that will need extensions very soon.
Expect the Browns to play it smart in free agency and add a bunch of talent with their 10 draft picks, provided they keep them all.
After all, the Browns have one of the best young cores in football, it is all about paying them to stick around now.