With free agency approaching on March 9th, we continue to take a closer look at all of the Browns' unrestricted free agents, with FS Tashaun Gipson up next.
FS Tashaun Gipson
Gipson has missed eight games over the past two seasons to injuries. Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
How and When He Joined the Usama Young and T.J. Ward was the team's other starting safety. He played in 10 games as a rookie, but showed some glimpses to be named a surprise starter in Ray Horton's first year with the club in 2013.: Gipson joined the Browns as an undrafted free agent in 2012, where he was a backup to
Productivity Level Last Season: Gipson arguably had the worst season of his career in 2015. He started 13 games and finished with 60 tackles, 2 passes defended, and 2 interceptions.
In 2015, CB Joe Haden was pretty much concussed all year, and Cleveland's group of cornerbacks played awful. I've never seen so many cornerbacks beat on deep balls up the sideline. Gipson's role was to be the single-high deep safety, and quarterbacks never seemed to attack the middle. They didn't have to. In a way, it made it feel like Cleveland was playing with 10 players on defense -- but again, that doesn't mean Gipson wasn't doing his job. If I had one knock that could be attributed to Gipson this year, it's the fact that he missed more tackles than he had in previous years.
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Gipson is an interesting case because he was largely a non-factor in 2015, but that doesn't mean he necessarily played poorly. In 2014, Joe Haden and Buster Skrine were having very good seasons, which gave Gipson some more freelance opportunities to log interceptions when quarterbacks tried to force passes. Remember that Gipson had 19 passes defended and 11 interceptions for 301 return yards from 2013-2014, which are damn good numbers and signs of a game-changing player.
Pro Football Focus summarizes my feelings on Gipson pretty well:
 was his worst coverage grade in a single season since entering the league, but when you look back at 2014, you see why the Browns should want to bring him back. He had our sixth-highest coverage grade that year, coming away with six interceptions and a pass breakup. Like Schwartz, he too has age on his side, and will be 26 when the season begins.
What the Browns Should Do: While Gipson would be nice to have back, he is upset at the organization. He held out last year, feeling the second-round tender around $2.3 million used on him was disrespectful compared to what he was worth. Guess what, though? Nobody tries to sign Gipson away from the Browns (it would have cost them a second-round pick). When I look at that, plus the down season in 2015 and injury issues Gipson has had, I think he is setting the bar way too high if he thinks he'll nab a 5-year, $47.5 million type of deal like Devin McCourtey got.
The bridge seems like it's been burned for Gipson, and the only way I see him being brought back is if he tests the market, doesn't receive anything lucrative, and then returns for whatever Cleveland's best offer is. Given Donte Whitner's age and decline in performance last year, it would be nice to have the ball-hawking version of Gipson back, which is why I wouldn't mind offering him a 4-year deal worth $28 million, which is the same as what Whitner got a couple of years ago. If the Browns lock up Gipson, it actually opens the door for them to consider cutting Whitner, since paying the tandem so much money together seems a bit crazy when you think about it.
Now it's your turn -- vote in the poll below on whether or not the team should try to re-sign Tashaun Gipson!