Browns strike big in deal for Elijah Moore

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Wide receiver is no longer a position of need for Cleveland.

For the second straight offseason it is the Cleveland Browns acquiring a wide receiver via trade. This time around it is Elijah Moore coming to Cleveland. The Browns and Jets agreed to terms on a deal that will send Moore and a third round pick to Cleveland while New York receives a second and fifth round selection.

The fact that Cleveland made a move for a wide receiver is hardly surprising as it was abundantly clear that their group of wide receivers was incomplete. Cleveland recently hosted Marquise Goodwin for a visit while also being rumored to still be in pursuit of Jerry Jeudy. After exploring their options it was Moore and the trade package required to acquire his services that won out.

Moore is a speedy receiving option who will be able take advantage of teams focusing on Amari Cooper. Cleveland has been lacking a reliable vertical threat and they believe they now have that in Moore. 46 of Moore’s 80 career receptions have gone for first downs while averaging 12.3 yards per reception. This seems like a good addition to a receiving group featuring Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

Things did not work in New York between Moore and quarterback Zach Wilson. Moore was better without Wilson under center and Cleveland is betting that Deshaun Watson gets the most out of their new acquisition.

Another aspect that is quite appealing to Cleveland is Moore’s current contract. Moore is cost controlled for the next two seasons with $1.4 and $1.8 million cap hits. The Browns have a lot of their financial resources tied up at the moment, acquiring a contract like Moore’s adds long term flexibility to their books. It also prevents from Cleveland from having to jettison good players to cut financial commitments they cannot afford. This should extend their window just a bit more longer, all they have to do is capitalize on it first.

Browns still pursuing Jerry Jeudy

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The Cleveland Browns are still pursuing the Denver Broncos wide receiver.

Jerry Jeudy to the Browns? That may still be possible as Cleveland is reportedly still attempting to acquire Jeudy from Denver.

This comes just a few days after what the Broncos were looking for in trade came to light. Denver is asking for a first round pick or a high second rounder and a player.

If the Browns were to be in on Jeudy they would have to go the second round and player route as Cleveland does not own a first round pick until 2025.

Jeudy was limited to just 10 games in 2021, but came back strong in 2022 with 67 receptions for 972 yards and six touchdowns. It is possible that the talented almost 24-year old receiver continues to develop, which is why Denver’s asking price is so high. Also worth considering is Jeudy’s contract as he is entering his fourth season. The fifth-year team option, if picked up by the acquiring team, would have a talented player with an upward trajectory at a team friendly number.

When comparing Cleveland’s options via the trade market, it is clear why they are still in on Jeudy and out on DeAndre Hopkins. The Browns have to manage their financial situation very carefully. It is better to take on what would be a large cost down the line rather than upfront at this current juncture.

Browns not in on DeAndre Hopkins

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The Cleveland Browns are reportedly not in on trading for the Cardinals wide receiver.

It appears that DeAndre Hopkins will be landing with a new team sooner rather than later, but it does not appear to be Cleveland. The Browns are not one of the teams in on trade talks according to Josina Anderson.

This is not the most surprising development as Cleveland needs to manage their spending well. Without restarting his contract Hopkins has a near $31 million cap hit in 2023 and just over $26 million in 2024. The Browns are currently allocating $23.7 million to Amari Cooper over the next two seasons, so adding a player with a cap hit like Hopkins’ is not necessarily ideal. Unless something happens with Hopkins’ contract it appears are content with looking at options who will not require that type of financial commitment.

Marquise Goodwin visits Browns

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The free agent wide receiver visited the Cleveland Browns Monday and Tuesday.

Pass catching depth is an area of need for the Cleveland Browns and they hosted a possible option early this week. Marquise Goodwin spent Monday and Tuesday with the Browns according to reports.

Goodwin is a speedy pass catching option capable of stretching the field for the offense. The last few seasons have seen production drop off from his 2017 campaign which saw career-highs in receptions (56) and yards (962). Considering the year prior and the following four it appears that season may have been an outlier. Excluding his first season in San Francisco (2017) Goodwin averages 22.2 receptions and 342.4 yards over the last six seasons.

The Browns do have a need for a reliable speedy receiver to take the top off the defense as the Anthony Schwartz experiment has been a failure. Signing Goodwin to a short deal would help Cleveland capitalize on what needs to be their contention window.

Areas Browns still need to address

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The Cleveland Browns have made some additions to their roster, but what areas still need to be addressed?

It was a solid start to free agency for the Cleveland Browns. Agreeing to terms with players who may not be particularly flashy, but can play important roles for the team. Adding Dalvin Tomlinson, Juan Thornhill, and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo shows that team is attempting to improve their defense. Following these moves it was time for some bargain hunting as they signed Maurice Hurst and Trysten Hill. Cleveland even agreed to terms with former Texan Jordan Akins to round out their tight end room. After all that what needs do the Browns still have?

Defensive tackle

Bringing in Tomlinson to improve the defensive interior was a good start, but the job is not done. Hurst has not played in a meaningful capacity in four years. Jordan Elliott has not been able to produce enough to warrant a starting spot and the less said about the rest of the group the better (Tommy Togiai, Perrion Winfrey).

Defensive end

It is a big time gamble signing a player who really only has a half-season of production to his name in Okoronkwo to a multi-year deal. Perhaps Okoronkwo is able to build upon last season, but the Browns should safeguard themselves in case a player with a career-high of 44% snaps played does not work out. Adding another pass rusher to create a timeshare opposite Myles Garrett would be the best path forward to get the most out of both players.

Linebacker

The Browns found themselves dealing with a lot of injuries last year which saw the team bringing in Reggie Ragland out of desperation. The team has re-signed Sione Takitaki to a one-year deal and there is still a chance Anthony Walker returns. Takitaki is working his way back from a major injury and until another linebacker is added to the equation this is still an area that needs to be addressed.

Wide receiver

This is not about Amari Cooper, it is about everyone else. Donovan Peoples-Jones had a nice 2022 season, but has more than likely reached his ceiling in terms of output. David Bell is still a relative unknown who is similar to Peoples-Jones when it comes to not being particularly fast or great at creating separation. Jakeem Grant is basically a return man with occasional contribution on offense. As far as Anthony Schwartz goes, why is he still here? Cleveland needs to add someone to bump Peoples-Jones into the third receiver spot he rightfully belongs in and take some pressure off of Cooper.

Backup quarterback

Jacoby Brissett has signed with the Commanders and now the team needs a backup for Deshaun Watson. Kellen Mond is under contract, but should not be a serious consideration for anything more than a practice squad body.

Cavs without three versus Wizards Friday

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The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without three players when they take on the Washington Wizards.

Friday will see the Cavs playing host to the Washington Wizards as they look to get back into the win column. Cleveland will be without Jarrett Allen, Sam Merrill, and Isaiah Mobley in the contest according to reports.

Allen continues to miss time with an eye injury with an uncertain timetable for his return to play. The Cavs have gone 2-1 over their last three Allen-less games although their two wins were against the lowly Charlotte Hornets with their loss coming against Philadelphia. Mobley has just one appearance for Cleveland over the last 12 games while Merrill has two over the last seven.

The Cavaliers should, emphasis on should, be able to take care of business against the Wizards with their current available players. If not, it just shows how integral Allen is to the success of the Cavs.

Browns go bargain hunting for D-Line depth

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The Cleveland Browns have dove into the bargain bin when it comes to adding depth to their defensive line.

After making some signings that will ultimately raise the floor of the Cleveland Browns defense, the team has decided to go bargain hunting. Cleveland has agreed to deals with Maurice Hurst and Trysten Hill.

In the grand scheme of things these are signings which more than likely will not amount to much of anything. Injuries have prevented Hurst from playing as he last played in 2021, last appeared in more than two games in 2020, and last saw more than 39% of snaps in 2019. Hill has also seen his time limited due to injuries, appearing in just 18 games over his first three seasons before a career-high 12 in 2022. It was only 228 defensive snaps for Hill split between Dallas and Arizona last season.

The approach from the Browns time around appears to be different from those of the past two seasons. Cleveland counted on bargain signings to be key players defensively previously only for it to blow up in their face (Taven Bryan, Malik Jackson, Malik McDowell). If the approach is to have Hurst and Hill challenge for spots on the bottom of the depth chart that is fine. If they are viewed as key pieces that is a different story entirely. A story which could have an unhappy ending for those involved in the decision making process.

Browns raise defensive floor in free agency

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The Cleveland Browns made some much needed improvements to their defense in the first few days of free agency.

It was not a pretty performance from the Cleveland Browns defensively last season. A combination of an inexcusable defensive scheme from Joe Woods and players who were not simply good enough resulted in what many hoped to be an improved unit ending up as a disappointment. Woods and several of those players are now gone. Cleveland has a fresh start on defense with new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and in order for him to be successful the defense needed help. The Browns went out and made some additions which should raise the floor or baseline of the defense.

Cleveland agreed to deals with Dalvin Tomlinson and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on the first day of the legal tampering period. The defensive line sans-Myles Garrett was a complete disaster and was a clear area of concern. Tomlinson provides a stout presence in the middle of the defense which should help create interior pressure which was non-existent last year. Okoronkwo is expected to play a key role opposite Garrett in place of the now departed Jadeveon Clowney. Okoronkwo is yet to play more than 44% of snaps in a season and that is a big concern. The hope is that Okoronkwo is able to translate last season’s late success over the course of 17 games this season. The Browns would be wise to consider augmenting Okoronkwo with another defensive end to split time as needed.

The defensive line was not the only area that the Browns front office addressed. Cleveland’s secondary was also a complete disaster and needed some help. In their quest to improve that unit they moved on from John Johnson and replaced him with safety Juan Thornhill. Thornhill should be able to provide a more stable presence on the back end of the Browns defense.

Important signings do not have to be at the top of the market

The big takeaway here is while none of their signings were the top guy on the market, they are still an improvement over last season (hopefully). These are the type of signings that raise the floor of a defense and closes the gap with the ceiling. Cleveland has their fair share of quality defensive players, but have been surrounded by subpar talent over the last two seasons. Providing supplementary talent to their best players is a way to lessen their level of variance. This leads to the team being more consistent and ultimately better. These signings in particular (and a few more) could make it so the defense is no longer a major liability.

Browns agree to deal with Juan Thornhill

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Cleveland improves their secondary by signing the former Kansas City Chief.

The Browns knew in order to have a more competent defense next year that their secondary was in need of some help. Cleveland agreed to a three-year deal with safety Juan Thornhill worth $21 million total and $14 million guaranteed over the first two years.

Thornhill appeared in 16 games last season for Kansas City, finishing with nine pass defenses and three interceptions in addition to 71 total tackles. These are all career-highs for Thornhill, with his interception total matching that of his rookie season. Opposing quarterbacks completed 32 of 47 attempts in his direction with five touchdowns allowed. Pro Football Focus and their opinionated analysis has given him a grade of 67.1. Overall Thornhill appears to be a fine player, but not the routine game changer teams covet. That fact is more than fine as players of his caliber are important too.

The 27-year old safety does not have to be a superstar for this signing to be successful. All Thornhill has to do is bring a consistent level of play that John Johnson III simply was unable to. If the Browns can get average play at the back end from Thornhill it will go a long way. When combined with the pre-existing extraordinary talents on the roster it should result in the Browns defense being less of a liability. Perhaps it could even turn into an asset at some point down the line.

Aaron Rodgers intends to play for Jets

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The Green Bay Packers cleared up some rumors and state his intentions for next season.

Aaron Rodgers appeared on the lab that is The Pat McAfee Show as many shivered with antici….pation. While there was not the definitive announcement many people were waiting for, such as he is retiring or that or approving a trade on the air, Rodgers did state his intentions and they are to play for the New York Jets.

As mentioned in a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Green Bay and New York need to work out the details of a trade that would see Rodgers end up in a Jets uniform. Should the trade be finalized it would put the Jets in position to contend in the highly competitive AFC East. New York realized they were in an arms race with the Bills and Dolphins, featuring Josh Allen and Tua Tagoviola respectively, and that Zach Wilson was not the answer they were seeking. Perhaps a fresh start elsewhere could lead to Wilson living up to his status as a high draft pick.

It is ironic that Aaron Rodgers’ saga and the Packers is so similar to Brett Favre’s separation. Rodgers also ending up with the Jets just makes it that much better. Considering where both players are/were in their career when landing in New York it appears that Rodgers has the advantage comparatively. On the surface it should be a better experience for Rodgers with the Jets, but football is not a kind game with a habit of being more cruel to those later in their career. Things were going well for Favre at first with everything unraveling as the season progressed. Rodgers is capable of avoiding a disappointing season in New York, but that is not a guarantee. Now is time for the waiting game as everyone waits for a seemingly inevitable trade.