A new defensive coordinator will not be the only hole the Cleveland Browns will have to fill this offseason. While it is their starting point, and a ton of their defensive personnel adjustments will depend on who they hire based on the scheme, there are still plenty of holes left on the roster to address in free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft.
Luckily for the Browns, they are rolling over the most cap space of any team in the NFL, and have the ability to clear a ton more with a contract restructure or two. As we move into the playoffs, then toward free agency and the draft, what are the top positions the Browns have to address?
Browns LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. [Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]
The linebacker corps of the Browns is in better shape than perception leads on. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a stud WILL linebacker, Tony Fields II has proven more than capable as a SAM in base packages, and they have plenty of opportunity to bring back depth pieces like Jordan Kunaszyk.
All of Anthony Walker Jr., Sione Takitaki (who likely isn’t playing football until late fall, or early winter in 2023), and Deion Jones being a free agent is a valid argument. However, Walker Jr.’s injury came in Week 3, so he may be ready to roll by training camp as he was playing excellent football.
In all reality, the Browns can add a linebacker in late day-two or early day-three of the draft, re-sign Walker Jr. and maybe Takitaki, and call it a unit.
Browns TE David Njoku. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
The Browns should be pleased with the production they got out of David Njoku off of the new contract. He was on pace for 1,000 yards before suffering an injury that sidelined him for multiple weeks and was consistently on the receiving end of big catches for the Browns.
However, 2022 may have shown us that Harrison Bryant may need to stay in a TE3 role. If the Browns go out and get a versatile move piece at tight end, they have the ability to run a plethora of diverse personnel groupings. Look for another tight end to join the roster this offseason.
Browns S Grant Delpit. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Just a year ago, we were having conversations about whether or not the Browns had the top safety group in the league. And now, it looks as though the emerging playmaker, Grant Delpit, maybe the only one to return to the room in 2023.
Ronnie Harrison is not worth even a one-year flier this year like he was a year ago, and the Browns can save nearly $10 million in cap space by releasing the vastly under-performing John Johnson III with a post-June 1 designation.
As the NFL gets increasingly pass-heavy, the Browns will need multiple new faces in the backend of their secondary in 2023.
Browns DE Myles Garrett. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jadeveon Clowney will not return to the Browns after his rant that ended his season early. While Alex Wright was thrown to the wolves earlier than he should have been due to early injuries to Clowney, he is still in the plans for the Browns. Isaiah Thomas will likely fight for a roster spot but proved to be a valuable depth piece in sparing use.
Overall, the Browns will probably seek out two more defensive ends to put on their roster as Chase Winovich is set for free agency, and Stephen Weatherly will likely never play a down for them after suffering a season-ending injury in training camp. This is a position that may be addressed in both the draft and in free agency.
Browns WR Amari Cooper. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports
The Browns are going to transition into even more 11 personnel and are going to want to get more vertical in 2023. This means adding a high-profile field stretcher to their roster this offseason. Anthony Schwartz has not panned out and David Bell is an underneath safety valve.
With Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones both reaching career heights in 2022, the Browns have a great deal of passing success to build off of. However, they are going to emphasize a lethal weapon down the field. It will be near the top of their list.
Browns DT Perrion Winfrey. Brownspregame 4
There is not a bigger hole on the roster than at defensive tackle. While bringing back Taven Bryan in a rotational, pass-rush situation role is not a terrible idea, Perrion Winfrey is the only one in the room who is likely to return in 2023.
Jordan Elliott has not taken a step forward, Bryan is a free agent, Tommy Togiai has proven to be one of the worst at his position in all of football, and Ben Stille will have to earn his roster spot in training camp. Look for the Browns to be active in both free agency and the draft to make significant changes to their defensive interior.