clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cleveland Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Rumors, Signings, and More

Our live blog and free agency tracker for the Cleveland Browns will be going all day long, so make sure you continue to refresh this page for the latest updates!

NFL: Super Bowl LI-City Scenes Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports



Free agency officially begins for the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the teams in the NFL at 4:00 PM ET. We've heard about plenty of rumors the past several days, but today is the day where we'll find out how many moves the Browns will be able to execute as they have roughly $100 million in available cap space.

We will have all of the Browns-related coverage on free agency here at Dawgs By Nature throughout the day. We will have individual posts about each free agent signing that Cleveland makes, or any other relevant news.

This thread will act as a "live blog" of sorts, with brief but important updates about the latest rumors, signings, or trades involving Cleveland or other NFL teams. You should also use the comments section as your free agency open thread! (Newest updates will be at the top of the live blog below)

2017 Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Day 1

5:00 PM: I’ve never had to do a “Part 2” of a free agency live blog, but today has been so crazy. Also, my story editor is getting laggy from too many updates and comments, so let’s start fresh with a new thread.

4:55 PM: I can’t believe that teams want QB Brock Osweiler, and neither can Benjamin Albright of CBS Sports...but he also is hearing of teams’ interest:

4:52 PM: Some news on the safety front: the Buffalo Bills have signed former Browns S Jordan Poyer, and then also added S Micah Hyde. The market for safety is thinning for the Browns, but there are still some options out there.

4:40 PM: Some contract details for new Browns C J.C. Tretter: they got him for relatively cheap, only $5.5 million per year.

4:35 PM: Per Jason La Canfora, the Browns are trying to unload QB Brock Osweiler for an extra 3rd round pick in 2018, which they can then use in a big package for QB Jimmy Garrapolo.

4:28 PM: Why is there a demand for QB Brock Osweiler? Per ESPN, teams are already asking the Browns about him. But Ian Rapoport also re-affirmed that the club is likely to release him soon, barring trade interest.

Building off our earlier report of something illegal, Josina Anderson of ESPN tweeted: which Michael Lombardi responded, “which is illegal.”

4:25 PM: Despite WR Terrelle Pryor visiting the Redskins, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora is still keeping hope alive for a return to Cleveland:

Also, former Browns GM Michael Lombardi likes the moves, but thinks that if the Browns release QB Brock Osweiler, it could borderline violate league rules. La Canfora says he is looking in to the possible violation:

4:15 PM: Per multiple reports, WR Terrelle Pryor is taking a free agent visit with the Washington Redskins. Former Browns DE Jabaal Sheard is also visiting the Miami Dolphins.

Also, we never heard any news on the likes of FS Jordan Poyer, OL Austin Pasztor, DL Jamie Meder, and others, so we assume those guys have all become free agents.

4:13 PM: Former Brown news: the Arizona Cardinals are signing K Phil Dawson.

4:10 PM: Some more evidence, this time from a “Browns executive,” that the team really doesn’t intend on QB Brock Osweiler being a part of their future:

4:04 PM: Free agency has officially started. Deals are coming in, but WR Alshon Jeffery is getting a 1-year, $14 million deal with the Eagles. Makes you wonder if WR Terrelle Pryor hopes to get the same thing from someone:

3:56 PM: I’m just going to dump a few more tweets here for you to consider -- the Browns might just release QB Brock Osweiler right away, or cut QB Robert Griffin III to in essence buy the second round pick for only $8.6 million.

3:52 PM: If you’re having trouble keeping track of what the trade parameters were for QB Brock Osweiler, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network does a good job concisely summarizing it here:

And now a look at their draft picks in 2017 and 2018:

3:50 PM: Our story on the crazy trade for QB Brock Osweiler is here. How the heck can we digest all this, and now free agency goes live in ten minutes? Good lord!

3:40 PM: What the hell? According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns have traded for QB Brock Osweiler:

The trade makes it sound like Cleveland is giving up almost nothing for Osweiler. We are getting the quarterback and a 2nd round pick in 2018 from them. Basically, the Browns are taking Osweiler off the books and could be looking to ship him to someone else right away:

Texans trade QB Brock Osweiler AND a 2018 second-round pick to Cleveland for the Browns to take Osweiler’s $16M salary of Houston’s books, per league sources. The move clears out millions in salary-cap space for Houston to intensify efforts to sign former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, per sources. To be exact, Houston saves $16 million in cash and $10 million against their cap this season.

The Texans also will get the Browns’ fourth-round pick this year in exchange for their own 6th-round pick. So Cleveland gets Osweiler’s contract, a 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 sixth-round pick, and Houston gets Cleveland’s 2017 fourth-round pick, saves $10 million in salary-cap space and $16 million in cash. Cleveland is not committed to keeping Osweiler and is likely to try to trade him, per sources. If so, it would turn into a basketball-like trade in which NBA teams routinely trade contracts to get them off their books; only it rarely, if ever, happens in the NFL.

It’s hard to remember in the salary-cap era another team when a team traded a contract to get it off its books. But Houston was so anxious to rid itself of Osweiler and move on to its next quarterbacking chapter that it is giving Cleveland extra picks to take him and his contract. The Browns headed into this free-agent signing period with over $100 million worth of salary-cap space and would struggle to spend it all. Now they can devote some of it to Osweiler’s contract and acquiring extra draft picks from Houston. But this is one of the most, if not the most, creative trade in NFL history.

3:30 PM: We do have one sour note via Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, who says it now seems “unlikely” that WR Terrelle Pryor will return to Cleveland:

3:10 PM: I still have my fingers crossed that we’ll hear positive news on WR Terrelle Pryor. Today is already a great day, but getting Pryor back would just make it the ultimate feel-good day of free agency for the Browns. Meanwhile, we have a live look in at how Sashi Brown is feeling so far:

3:00 PM: Some fun nuggets on RG Kevin Zeitler:

2:52 PM: Look at what Jason La Canfora tweeted Wednesday night:

Assuming none of Cleveland’s deals fall through, today’s news serves as a big FU to La Canfora. Here is our story on Zeitler, by the way.

2:42 PM: AND WE’RE OFF! Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns are getting OG Kevin Zeitler and will make him the highest-paid guard in NFL history:

2:20 PM: Some news on the wide receiver market: despite already adding WR Torrey Smith, the Eagles are looking to add WR Alshon Jeffery:

Meanwhile, as free agency is about to commence, we have WR Terrelle Pryor posting more of his relentless workout videos:

2:18 PM: Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, here are the year-by-year details of Bitonio’s extension, which we’ll spend more time breaking down when we have time:

The $8.5 million roster bonus gets that on the cash spend for 2017, providing a nice bump if you read our 89% requirement post for 2017-2020. Missing from Wilson’s year-by-year figures is $2.5 million, which could be a $500,000 signing bonus spread over the final five years of the deal.

2:15 PM: So it sounds like the Cowboys will try to trade QB Tony Romo instead of releasing him. We do have some Browns-related news, though, and it’s the fact that SS Johnathan Cyprien will sign with the Titans. Cleveland will have to explore some other safeties now, which I’m sure they’ve been doing.

2:04 PM: Speaking on the contract of OG Joel Bitonio, former Browns CEO Joe Banner and CBS Sports’ Joel Corry weighed in. Both of them think Cleveland got good value, and don’t understand why Bitonio didn’t wait another year. It’s the same type of things that was said after Cleveland extended LB Jamie Collins.

2:00 PM: Alright, here are the updates we’ve been waiting for on OG Kevin Zeitler and WR Terrelle Pryor. Both reports come via Yahoo Sports’ Benjamin Albright, who was on Cleveland Browns Daily with Nathan Zegura:

To summarize, Albright thinks the Browns have an 80% chance of signing Zeitler by the end of the day, with the Saints and Jaguars being in the mix too (although an earlier report ruled the Jaguars out). The Browns are still the leaders to retain Pryor, although the Bears are also in the mix.

1:52 PM: Aside from anything negative related to WR Terrelle Pryor, the one thing that could ruin Cleveland’s free agency for me as a fan is if they try to sign QB Jay Cutler. Nothing has connected Cutler to Cleveland, but they are releasing him and the Jets are a place he could land:

1:48 PM: For anyone doubting if C J.C. Tretter to Cleveland will actually happen, here is what his father, Joe Tretter, tweeted in response to a Browns fan. Joe’s avatar on Twitter also includes a “Cleveland Browns” hat.

1:25 PM: Some more contract-related details for LG Joel Bitonio: the extension will keep him with the team through the 2022 season. On a per year average ($10.2 million), it would make Bitonio the second-highest paid guard in football (but probably the third highest after Kevin Zeitler signs somewhere). His deal is very similar to what David DeCastro (Steelers) and Kyle Long (Bears) got last year.

1:15 PM: We have a story up now on the contract extension for LG Joel Bitonio. The extension details were provided first by ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

1:10 PM: The Browns were connected to Texans CB A.J. Bouye a couple of days ago, but Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network just reported that the Jacksonville Jaguars are keying in on him:

1:04 PM: This is a fun piece from former NFL offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, brother of Mitchell Schwartz, who now writes for Geoff discusses how a day like today works from the players’ perspective, and what the five phases of free agency are.

12:53 PM: Alright, I got away with sneaking away for some lunch (Beefaroni!) without missing any breaking headlines. We could try to connect the dots on one thing, though: the Saints are reportedly close to a “big money deal” with DT Nick Fairley:

If you recall, the Browns and Saints were rumored to be the two teams hot on OG Kevin Zeitler. Over the Cap says New Orleans has around $27 million in cap space. While they could make it work with Fairley and Zeitler, it’d leave them little room to do much else.

As an aside, Fairley was the No. 4 player on my wishlist for the Browns. I projected 3 years for $16 million, but based on Rapoport’s tweet, I have a feeling I way under-estimated.

12:15 PM: Just how much of a difference from an analytics perspective would C J.C. Tretter make over C Cameron Erving? Pro Football Focus breaks it down. The first table shows the Top 5 centers in pass blocking, where Tretter is No. 5. The second table shows the Bottom 5 centers in pass blocking, where Erving is the fourth worst.

To make it easier, perhaps compare the quarterback hurry and quarterback pressure columns for Tretter and Erving.

12:10 PM: I make a point to include this every year in my Day 1 free agency live blog: the state income tax and how it could influence where a player signs:

12:05 PM: We’re past the noon hour now! Jason La Canfora says that the 49ers conveyed to QB Brian Hoyer that he will be their starting QB. I still have a soft spot for Hoyer, but man, I can’t believe that since his Cleveland days, he’s found so many opportunities to start with other teams:

11:42 AM: These aren’t related to the Browns, but the QB market in general -- the big deal that Chicago will give Mike Glennon, and some lessening of the rumor that QB Kirk Cousins will leave Washington:

11:36 AM: I love the deal pending for C J.C. Tretter, but one concern is that Tretter, LG Joel Bitonio, and RG John Greco are all coming off of knee or foot injuries. If Tretter is fine, he’s young and was an above average center for the Packers last year.

11:15 AM: We’ve got a separate story up on C J.C. Tretter now. It now sounds like a done deal as opposed to just a rumor:

11:05 AM: More news on the offensive line: Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reports that the Browns are working to sign C J.C. Tretter, who was one of my free agency targets.

10:55 AM: Big news on the offensive guard front for the Browns, but it’s related to one of their own. Per Adam Schefter, the Browns are working on a “monster extension” for LG Joel Bitonio. I had mentioned last year that Cleveland should start thinking ahead about an extension for Bitonio. Coming off another injury, I didn’t think the club would be addressing it just yet, but this is a positive.

10:45 AM: While I have a couple of minutes, I wanted to catch up on some things that the San Francisco 49ers reportedly locked up last night:

  • QB Brian Hoyer - 2 years, $12 million w/ $10 million guaranteed, and up to $6 million more in incentives [more]
  • FB Kyle Juszczyk - 4 years, $21 million, which makes him the highest-paid fullbacks and one of the higher-paid running backs [more]
  • WR Pierre Garcon - Some type of deal that would give him $16 million in year one [more]
  • WR Marquise Goodwin - 2-year, up to $8 million deal [more]

On top of all that, the team would still like to acquire QB Kirk Cousins. Those signings are a bunch of nice-looking signings, but the 49ers, like Cleveland, were a bad football team last year. Those weapons also aren’t anything close to what Kyle Shanahan had in Atlanta. I give credit to them for trying something, but like Cleveland, they still have a whole lot of work to do.

10:28 AM: Oh, boy — stomach-churning time! According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, there are two finalists for OG Kevin Zeitler: the New Orleans Saints...and then your Cleveland Browns. He says the Jacksonville Jaguars are out of the sweepstakes now.

Will Zeitler take more money and Hue Jackson in Cleveland? Or a little less money (presumably) but a team more ready to contend in New Orleans?

10:25 AM: Over at The OBR’s premium forums, Lane Adkins and his team have been reporting all of the latest scoops on free agency, which I do my best to refrain from mentioning here. However, every so often, he hops on to Twitter, where I got to ask him if the Browns would be slapping the ERFA tender on DL Jamie Meder before the deadline today. His response:

10:15 AM: We’ve heard about WR Brandin Cooks being on the market for awhile now, and New England has shown more than any other team that they are willing to make a deal. Per ESPN, the Patriots could be sending CB Malcolm Butler to the Saints in exchange for Cooks:

10:10 AM: I’ve been trying to find a way to shoe-horn the contract details of P Britton Colquitt in, so I’ll quickly get to that now. Per Over the Cap, it’s a four-year deal worth $11.2 million, with a $1.5 million roster bonus. I hadn’t known about the roster bonus previously, so now Cleveland’s cap space should be around $99.74 million, not factoring in the deal for WR Kenny Britt.

10:02 AM: Regarding WR Terrelle Pryor, all we have so far is a blurb from Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer that says, “They still hope to keep Terrelle Pryor, who will become a free agent at 4 p.m. today.”

9:40 AM: Our story on WR Kenny Britt signing with the Browns is up here. Given the fact that he’s projected to receive over $8 million/year from the Browns, this does not look good for WR Terrelle Pryor returning to Cleveland now.

I have to wonder if Cleveland offered the same deal to Pryor, and had waited long enough for him to make a decision and now decided to commit to someone with equivalent production from a year ago.

9:35 AM: Whoa! Here is a big rumor about the Browns. Per Adam Caplan of ESPN, the Browns are expected to sign WR Kenny Britt later today.

9:34 AM: One thing is for sure: the Cincinnati Bengals’ offensive line is getting a whole lot weaker next year. We’ve been talking about OG Kevin Zeitler a lot, but LT Andrew Whitworth is also departing, reportedly to the Los Angeles Rams:

9:24 AM: Although he was never linked to the Browns, CB Stephon Gilmore is about to sign a big-time deal with the New England Patriots.

This illustrates why it’ll be difficult for the Browns, or other teams with poor records, to land the top free agents. Even if Cleveland has the most cap space, a team like New England still has enough cap space to pay a ton of money to one or two top-tier free agents, completely taking the Browns out of consideration for a player like that.

9:20 AM: The biggest free agent of our own we’re thinking about is WR Terrelle Pryor. However, here is the complete list of Browns players who will become free agents at 4:00 PM ET if the team does not take action:

UFA: OT Austin Pasztor, DT Stephen Paea, FS Jordan Poyer
RFA: RB Glenn Winston, CB Marcus Burley
ERFA: RB George Atkinson, RB Rajion Neal, WR Dennis Parks, DT Jamie Meder, DT Dylan Wynn

The biggest under-the-radar name there is Meder, who was a big contributor to the defense last year. If Cleveland uses the ERFA tag before the deadline, they can keep him for the minimum.

9:05 AM: This doesn’t seem to paint a picture that OG Kevin Zeitler is signing with the Jaguars, but we know that they are making it a mission to revamp their offensive line too:

8:55 AM: Wednesday night, we looked at several late developing rumors, including SS Tony Jefferson and OG Kevin Zeitler being offered massive deals by the Browns. Despite that, Jefferson has reportedly decided to take a lesser deal from the Baltimore Ravens so he can be paired up with S Eric Weddle as part of a dynamic duo. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora said not to expect a final decision until the morning hours, and now this morning, he’s convinced that it’ll be the Ravens:

After a Browns fan tweeted Jefferson that he’d be enemy number one next year now, he responded with a swinging golf club emoji and the acronym, “f%$& outta here.” Yep, he’s definitely not coming to Cleveland.

That doesn’t close the door on the safety position at all for Cleveland, who I expect to make a strong push for SS Johnathan Cyprien from the Jaguars now. Jacksonville already signed his replacement, so Cyprien needs a new home.

8:43 AM: A reminder that as of our last estimate, the Browns have $101.24 million in available cap space, which is broken down in the following manner:


NFL 2017 Salary Cap (Projected): $167.0 million
Browns' Rollover from 2016: $50.123 million
Browns' 2017 Adjusted Salary Cap: $167.0 million + $50.123 million = $217.123 million


Browns' Top 51 Cap Total: $109.448 million*
Browns' Dead Money for 2017: $6.432 million
Browns' Total Cap Spent for 2017: $109.448 million + $6.432 million = $115.88 million

When you subtract the two subtotals above ($217.123 million - 115.88 million), we conclude that the Browns have about "$101.24 million in cap space.” The 49ers are right behind Cleveland, but are projected to have several deals ready as soon as 4 PM ET hits.

8:40 AM: Welcome to our free agency live blog! I will be with you here at Dawgs By Nature all day long. It'll be a long, non-stop day of coverage. If a headline breaks, especially after 4:00 PM ET, I have to work as quickly as possible to get a separate article posted on the news, an update in this live blog, and then updates on Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy the ride!