In a contribution special to ESPN Insider, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus listed their top 5 underrated and top 5 overrated signings of NFL free agency. New members of the Cleveland Browns were included on both lists, but this is viewed from a roster management perspective, not necessarily a talent evaluation perspective.
The underrated signing was C J.C. Tretter, who signed a 3-year, $16.75 million contract with $10 million guaranteed. Monson explains why Tretter could be a steal for that type of deal:
Tretter started seven games for the Packers last season and allowed just eight total pressures. Cameron Erving, meanwhile, started at center for the Browns for 12 games last season and surrendered 29 total pressures. Erving's run blocking was poor as well, and Tretter is a clear upgrade. The 26-year-old has looked like a starting-caliber center every time he has been on the field, but he hasn't been able to show it over a full season. When he surrendered the starting job back to Corey Linsley last season, Tretter was PFF's No. 5-graded center. Along with free-agent acquisition Kevin Zeitler, the Browns have upgraded the interior of their offensive line, and the deal they got for Tretter -- only $10 million guaranteed -- could be a steal.
The overrated signing was RG Kevin Zeitler, who signed a 5-year, $60 million contract with $23 million guaranteed. The issue that Monson had with the signing is that he feels the Browns were already fine at the guard position between Joel Bitonio and John Greco.
Zeitler is an excellent player who has been consistently good over his NFL career, but the issue with his long-term contract in Cleveland is that the Browns' guard play was already pretty good. They re-signed Joel Bitonio to a big extension, which leaves John Greco the odd man out, but Greco allowed just 24 total QB pressures last season and had four perfect games of pass protection while run blocking well inside. The Browns have likely upgraded, but it is a lot to pay -- $31.5 million guaranteed -- for what might prove to be a marginal boost at the position.
That’s fair, but I would counter with the fact that Greco will be 32 years old this season and is entering the final year of his contract with Cleveland. If they can’t retain him long-term, why not be a step ahead of things with one of the best offensive guards in football? Plus, Greco may still be able to contribute at right tackle this year.