The Las Vegas Raiders announced today that they have cut former 2019 first round pick, Johnathan Abram, after failing to trade him at the deadline. The Cleveland Browns have a deficit in their safety room and a lack of first round picks to fill voids on their roster, which could make them a potential candidate to make a move.
Should general manager Andrew Berry get busy and put in a waiver claim for Abram? Would the Browns have interest if he were to go unclaimed and clear waivers? Here we weigh the pros and cons of what an addition of the former first round safety could look like in Cleveland and for this defensive unit.
A look at the career of Johnathan Abram thus far
Browns Raiders Johnathan Abram. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
There is no beating around the bush: Abram has been bad throughout the three-and-a-half years of his career with the Raiders. According to PFF, Abram has graded over 50 in just one year of his entire career thus far. This season, Abram sits with a defensive grade of 49.5, a run defense grade of 43.4, a tackling grade of 53.5, and a coverage grade of 51.6.
He has missed 15 percent of his tackle attempts throughout his career, has given up a passer rating of 118 when targeted, has allowed catches on over 75 percent of the time he has been targeted and has given up 11 touchdowns.
Sure, he has a good deal of alignment versatility, but he has been putrid. This is why the Raiders attempted to trade him at the deadline. Instead, he became another notch in the hilarious belt of draft picks made by Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock.
#Raiders first-round picks from 2019-2021:
2021: Alex Leatherwood: Cut
2020: Henry Ruggs III: Cut
2020: Damon Arnette: Cut
2019: Johnathan Abram: Cut
2019: Josh Jacobs: 5th year declined.
2019: Clelin Ferrell: 5th year declined.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 8, 2022
Following a trend under Andrew Berry
Browns Andrew Berry. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
General manager Andrew Berry follows the guardrail of churning the bottom of the roster to a T. And he tends to churn it with former first round rejects who burn out from their original landing spot in the NFL Draft.
Safety Karl Joseph, defensive end Takk McKinley (who he put in four waiver claims for in 2020 before signing him as a free agent in 2021), and defensive tackle Taven Bryan all follow this trend of Berry. Adding Abram to the roster in Cleveland would be just another infinity stone in Berry’s former first round gauntlet.
And owed just $1 million for the rest of the season, there is not much of a financial risk to putting a waiver claim in for Abram. The Raiders already declined his fifth-year option, meaning he will be a free agent after the season one way or the other.
If Berry wanted to upgrade his safety room by putting a claim in on Abram, or signing him should he clear waivers, it would have a microscopic impact on the day-to-day operations of the Browns. It would be a non-consequential move.
The Browns have room for improvement in their safety room
Browns. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The secondary in Cleveland has begun to find its stride over the past two weeks. Leading up to that, however, John Johnson III looked incredibly overpaid, Grant Delpit looked like a misfit on the field, and Ronnie Harrison looked lost.
While Harrison still is not much of a contributor and cannot be relied upon, both Johnson III and Delpit have taken steps in a positive direction. After Harrison, the Browns are rostering an undrafted free agent rookie D’Anthony Bell. All of this to say that the Browns have two safety spots, Harrison and Bell, that could be shuffled if a move for Abram was made with no long-term impact on the team.
Bell, however, is under contract at a very minimal cost until 2025. This makes Harrison, a pending free agent after the season, the likely odd man out. The Browns just have to ask themselves: does adding Abram nine weeks into the season make them a better team over their last nine games?
Browns Raiders Johnathan Abram. Nfl Las Vegas Raiders At Tennessee Titans
Abram would not make this team better in 2022.
However, the money between the rest of his rookie deal (which is the rest of 2022) and a contract should he clear waivers would not be significantly different. All of this to say, if the Browns opt to add a former first round pick via waivers, which is a trend they have done under Berry, the move would not be a consequential one.
Abram will be a free agent at the end of the season one way or the other, and could end up in Cleveland in 2023 anyway. Karl Joseph, Takk McKinley, and Taven Bryan are all first rounders who Berry signed on last chance contracts. Some have worked out better than others, but Abram follows that same trend.
He has not been good for the Raiders since he was a top-32 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. However, he is a physical presense when he is playing in control. With the stakes being so low on a move to claim or sign him, it is a move Berry could very easily make to give Abram a change of scenery.
Will he be asked to contribute if the Browns added him? That is to be decided, but in a room with a struggling Ronnie Harrison and an undrafted rookie in D’Anthony Bell, adding Abram cannot make the room any worse.
But he also will not elevate the room.