Continuing our preview on the Cleveland Browns’ free agent class, we now take a look at OL Austin Pasztor.
How and When He Joined the Browns: The Browns claimed Pasztor off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars at the start of the 2015 season.
Productivity Level Last Season: For the first time in his career, Pasztor started all 16 games. 15 of them came at right tackle, but he was moved to right guard in the season finale as the club decided to toy with the offensive line a bit.
After a rough start to the season, Pasztor turned things around and regularly graded as one of the Browns’ best players on offense. Considering guard might have been his projected strong suit, his work at right tackle for most of the year was admirable and his pass protection improved to match his run blocking.
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Cleveland’s offensive line is still in a bit of chaos heading into next season. We know Joe Thomas will start at left tackle, but will both starting guards (Joel Bitonio and John Greco) be back from injury? Who fills in at center? With so many questions, sticking with Pasztor would be a nice insurance policy.
What the Browns Should Do: I thought Pasztor far exceeded expectations in 2016, but I’m stuck with what to do. In an ideal scenario, I would retain him as a versatile backup offensive lineman. We’re talking about a guy who, and this might sound surprising, has started 43 games in the NFL. He’s only 26 years old, so this is the time when he’s going to want to pitch himself as a starting offensive lineman to a team who will pay him low starter-level money.
It’s possible that Cleveland will buy in to Pasztor for that low-level starter money. However, I know that they worked toward developing Shon Coleman all of last year so he could compete to be the right tackle in 2017. Cameron Erving might also get a shot at right tackle. Spencer Drango got some experience at guard, in the event that Greco is near the end of his time with Cleveland. Cleveland could also decide to add another offensive lineman through the draft. Do we really want to lock ourselves in to Pasztor? I’d say we should shoot a little higher and let another team have him.
Let us know below whether or not the team should try to re-sign Austin Pasztor!