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Cleveland Browns Free Agent Review: OG Billy Yates

We are currently in process of doing brief reviews of all of the free agents on the Cleveland Browns. Today, we take a look at our other free agent offensive lineman.

OG Billy Yates

How and When He Joined the Browns: Yates has been in the league since 2003. He spent his first year with the Miami Dolphins, but played for the Patriots from 2004-2008. Yates ended up starting a few games during his span with New England, filling in for injured players, and also won a Super Bowl ring. When the Patriots let him go at the start of the 2009 season, the Browns scooped him up and released LB Leon Williams and DB DeAngelo Smith (S Ray Ventrone was also signed).

Productivity Level Last Season: I kept on joking for the first half of last season that we would be in big trouble if Yates had to start any games, and I thought it was a given that rookie Shawn Lauvao would be given favoritism over him if an opportunity arose. An opportunity came up last season though and Yates delivered big time. In fact, he started three games at right guard, and those were arguably some of the best games the Browns played all season before he landed on the injured reserve.

Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Right now, Alex Mack is the only true center on the team. Last year, the "backups" on the depth chart behind Mack were Yates and Lauvao. Neither of them were very good as backup centers, but Yates probably had the edge over Lauvao. On top of that, Yates played surprisingly well as a starting right guard, and I can't imagine he'll be a coveted free agent for other teams.

What the Browns Should Do: Whether or not the Browns keep Yates will depend on two things related to Floyd Womack, in my opinion. First, if Womack is not re-signed, then Yates should definitely be retained. If Womack is re-signed, if he is a starter, we'll probably need someone besides Yates who can play backup tackle. If Womack ends up being a backup, he can be the backup tackle while Yates can serve as a backup guard again. It seems like a weird situation, but in the likely scenario, I see Yates not being retained. If Lauvao and Jason Pinkston are both backup guards, why would we need a third backup guard? His spot would need to go to a backup tackle.

Now it's your turn -- vote in the poll below on whether or not the team should try to re-sign Billy Yates!