With free agency approaching on March 9th, it's time to continue looking at all of the Browns' unrestricted free agents, with RT Mitchell Schwartz up next.
RT Mitchell Schwartz
Along with LT Joe Thomas, RT Mitchell Schwartz has never missed a snap in his career. Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
How and When He Joined the Trent Richardson, QB Brandon Weeden, and then Schwartz. People often panned Schwartz, but he by far turned out to be the best of the bunch.: In 2012, general manager Tom Heckert selected RT Mitchell Schwartz in the second round of the draft at No. 37 overall. It looked like Heckert had hit a home run with his first three picks of RB
Productivity Level Last Season: In a contract year, Schwartz had the finest season as a pro. Although he wasn't an All-Pro and didn't make the Pro Bowl, Pro Football Focus had him rated as the best right tackle in all of football, saying, "Though he was solid as a run-blocker, it was his pass-blocking that really stood out, as he allowed just 11 quarterback knockdowns (sacks or hits) all season."
One of the finest accomplishments in hindsight for Schwartz in 2015 was how well he handled Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller. Everyone saw how dominant Miller was this season, especially in the postseason, but there was only one game in which he was truly less-than-average, and that was when he squared off against Schwartz:
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Fans love the fact that LT Joe Thomas has never missed a snap, but Schwartz hasn't missed a single snap in four years either (4,427 snaps). This isn't a case where the Browns would be trying to overpay a player who is a little above average. Schwartz has shown growth every year in his consistency to the point where he is probably a Top-10 right tackle in the NFL. There is no way the Browns could find a better replacement unless they got really, really lucky. It's insane to think that we once wondered if Michael Bowie could supplant Schwartz as the starter. There was never even a competition last year because of how established Schwartz was.
What the Browns Should Do: According to Tony Pauline of Draft Insider, "people at the combine believed Schwartz will eventually sign a contract that will average near or above $8 million annually." At the end of January, the Philadelphia Eagles extended the contract of RT Lane Johnson to an amount ($11.25 million per year) that makes him the fourth-highest paid tackle in all of football. That is a little deceptive because Johnson will eventually move to left tackle in Philadelphia, but it's still something that Schwartz will try to strive for.
If I'm the Browns, I think it's very important to retain Schwartz, but an amount around $8 million per year would be generous for a guy who has never been named to a Pro Bowl or been an All-Pro. Not including Johnson, it'd make him the highest-paid right tackle in the league. I'm really hoping that Schwartz and C Alex Mack, along with Thomas, have a strong enough bond that the three of them will try to max out their money, but ultimately still stay in Cleveland. I'd offer Schwartz a 5-year, $34 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, which is a contract a little north of what RT Jeremy Parnell got with the Jaguars last year.
Now it's your turn -- vote in the poll below on whether or not the team should try to re-sign Mitchell Schwartz!