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Evaluating What the Browns Should do With Their Restricted Free Agents

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we've covered all of the Cleveland Browns' unrestricted free agents, let's take a look at the team's five restricted free agents that they will need to make decisions on by 4:00 PM on March 9th. An explanation on what restricted free agents are, along with this year's tender amounts, are in the sidebar below.

What Are Restricted Free Agents / Tender Amounts?
"Restricted Free Agents" (RFA) applies to players who have at least three years of accrued service in the NFL (i.e. 6 games or more on the roster or IR).

The Browns could choose to place a 1st round tender, 2nd round tender, or original round tender on each player.

The 2016 tenders are $3.635 million for the 1st round tender, $2.553 million for the 2nd round tender, and $1.671 million for original round tenders. Another team can sign a player you place a tender on, but they would owe that team the corresponding draft pick. Players not tendered by the start of free agency revert to unrestricted free agents.

List of the Browns' RFA

  • QB Pat Devlin
  • WR Terrelle Pryor
  • OL Austin Pasztor
  • OLB Scott Solomon
  • S Don Jones

Analysis

Last year, the Browns had several key contributors who were restricted free agents, so they slapped tenders on ILB Craig Robertson, FS Tashaun Gipson, NT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, and CB Johnson Bademosi. Although Kitchen didn't make the team, all four players had significant roles the previous year.

Least Likely: This year's crop of talent is much less impressive. First, let's start with the players who have zero chance at being tendered: Devlin and Jones. Both players were street free agents signed last year to fill in for injury-purposes. Solomon would seem to be pretty close to having no chance of being tendered too. If last year's coaching staff were back, the story might be different, as they planned on him being a starter. Now, a new staff is coming in with very little tape on him.

Most Likely: Because of the uncertainty of the offensive line, the team might consider an original round tender for Pasztor. When he filled in at guard last year, he was serviceable and the team's running game improved. If Hue Jackson sees that on tape, it's reasonable to think he'll want Pasztor in camp.

Biggest Storyline: Will we find out pretty early how much value the new coaching staff has in WR Terrelle Pryor? Or, how much Sashi Brown was intrigued by Pryor's work as a receiver in 2015? The best offer that Pryor will get is an original round tender, but fans who are fantasizing about a Pryor-Gordon duo might see that dream evaporate over the next week.

Conclusion

If I'm the Browns, I wouldn't place tenders on any of the restricted free agents. After Pasztor and Pryor become unrestricted free agents, though, I'd like to see them re-signed for the veteran minimum of $675,000. That would be about $1 million cheaper per player than if they had tendered them, and I don't think there is much of a threat of another team jumping in to sign either player. The team could also give some consideration to signing Solomon for the minimum.