ESPN’s Bill Barnwell ranks Browns offseason in the top half of NFL

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The Cleveland Browns offseason has been an interesting one primarily surrounding the acquisition of QB Deshaun Watson. If they hadn’t acquired him, after trying, the discussion around their belief in QB Baker Mayfield and his ability to return to health would dominate the headlines.

Instead, Mayfield’s future remains in doubt.

The Watson acquisition, with the uncertainty around league discipline, makes it hard to really assess the team’s offseason. Outside of Watson, the trades for WR Amari Cooper and DE Chase Winovich, along with retaining DE Jadeveon Clowney, TE David Njoku and DB Ronnie Harrison stand out as their biggest moves.

The team also extended CB Denzel Ward while releasing WR Jarvis Landry, TE Austin Hooper and OL J.C. Tretter.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell (subscriber, $) went through ranking all 32 NFL teams’ offseasons and slotted Cleveland’s at #15. In regards to Watson, Barnwell had this to say:

Even if Watson didn’t have the off-field allegations over his head, three first-round picks and a fully guaranteed $230 million would be a staggering commitment to acquire any player. Watson has to be a superstar for the entirety of this deal to justify the move. He’s capable of playing at that level. On the field, it’s easy to understand why the Browns would see upgrading to a different class of quarterback as an easy victory. Off the field, the trade is difficult to stomach or regard as a success.

Barnwell lauded the team’s decisions at receiver (adding Cooper and David Bell while releasing Landry) but had questions regarding Njoku’s extension and the use of a draft pick on kicker Cade York. He also thought the team could have been better off spending money on the interior of the defensive line instead of bringing back Clowney.

No matter what, the 2022 offseason will be defined by the trade for Watson and the fate of Mayfield. Everything else may turn out well but what happens at quarterback will decide how this transaction period is viewed in the future.