The Cleveland Browns are coming off of their best season in the past decade. Rookie quarterback sensation and 2018 1st overall pick Baker Mayfield finished 2nd in rookie of the year voting. Joel Bitonio, Myles Garrett, Jarvis Landry, and Denzel Ward were all named pro bowlers, the most the Browns have had since 2015. Most importantly, the Browns bounced back after a winless season in 2017, and finished the 2018 season 7-8-1, just barely missing out on a playoff spot.
A good deal of this recent success can be attributed to General Manager John Dorsey, who was highered before the 2018 season began. Dorsey immediately made an impact, drafting quarterback Baker Mayfield, Cornerback Denzel Ward, and running back Nick Chubb, who all had phenomenal rookie seasons. Dorsey also traded for star wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who played a huge part in turning the team around with his play on the field, and his infectious winning attitude.
The Browns have already made a splash this off season with the controversial signing of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Hunt was released by the Chiefs this past season after he was involved in a domestic violence incident and is yet to be punished by the NFL. John Dorsey was the man who drafted Hunt to the Chiefs and decided to give him a second chance in Cleveland. Before being released this past season, Hunt was considered one of the top players in the league, which is why the Browns chose to take a gamble on him and bring him to Cleveland.
For the first time in years, the Browns will not be searching for a quarterback in the offseason. Baker Mayfield showed lots of potential this past season and it looks like he will be the Cleveland’s quarterback of the future. There still are some holes on the Browns roster and some positions that need to be upgraded if the Browns want to compete for a playoff spot next year. A few areas that stand out are the offensive line and their defensive secondary. The Browns could also use a more reliable kicker and a big-bodied wide receiver that can use his size to help him make plays.
The Browns will look to address these needs through the NFL Draft and free agency, and could even look to make a few trades as well.
Currently holding their own pick in rounds 1-6 (17th overall in each round) as well as the New England Patriots 3rd round and 5th round picks, Jacksonville Jaguars 5th round and 7th round picks, and the San Francisco 49ers 7th round pick, the Browns will have plenty of opportunities to improve through the draft.
Another thing that Cleveland has is cap space. With the 4th most in the league at $77 million, the Browns could look to sign some big name free agents to help bolster their already impressive roster.
As mentioned previously, some trades could be made as well, as John Dorsey will explore every option he has to help the Browns become a better football team. One name that has recently been linked to the Browns is New York Giants superstar wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. Although Beckham recently signed an extension with the Giants, many believe that he now wants out of New York. John Dorsey seems to be pushing for a trade that would send shockwaves throughout the NFL.
Another reason to believe that the Brows could be a playoff team in 2019 is the coaching staff. After firing former head coach Hue Jackson halfway through the season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams took over as interim head coach. Williams helped coach the Browns to a 5-3 record in their last 8 games. While some thought that may have been enough to sign Williams long-term, he was instead fired in favor of coach Freddie Kitchens. Kitchens also received a promotion halfway through the season, and went from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Kitchens was given lots of credit for his creative play calling, and also for utilizing rookie Baker Mayfield in the Browns second-half of the season turnaround.
No matter what happens this offseason, the Cleveland Browns will be an exciting team to watch in 2019.