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Cleveland Browns Free Agent Review: RB Isaiah Crowell

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Should the Browns retain their starting running back?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

With free agency approaching on March 14th, it’s time to take a closer look at all of the Browns’ unrestricted free agents, starting with RB Isaiah Crowell.

NFL: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
Crowell had some fun moments in his four years with the Browns.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

How and When He Joined the Browns: The Browns signed Crowell as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He was expected to be a fourth-round pick and was the seventh-rated running back of the draft class. Cleveland gave him a $10,000 bonus as an incentive to sign with them over other teams after the draft.

Productivity Level Last Season: Last season, Crowell had 206 carries for 853 yards (4.1 YPC) and 2 touchdowns to go along with 28 catches for 182 yards. Overall, the production was a slight step down from his career-highs in yardage in 2016, but the 206 carries he had last year were a career-high.

As was often the case with Crowell, it was a tale of two seasons for him. In the first 7 games, Crowell averaged 3.15 YPC. In the final 9 games, he averaged 4.92 YPC. Oddly enough, those final 9 games were when LT Joe Thomas was out.

Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: Without Crowell, the Browns would be down to Duke Johnson and Matthew Dayes as their running backs. As exciting as Johnson is, in three seasons with the club, he’s had 379, 358, and 348 rushing yards. The coaching staff views him as a receiving back (534, 514, and 693 yards), and he’ll often leave games in spurts after taking a hit. In other words, it’s hard to envision him being the bellcow back. Keeping Crowell would continue giving Cleveland a guy who remains injury-free and gets you close to 1,000 yards rushing each year.

What the Browns Should Do: I rarely lay money on things, but you can pretty much bet that Crowell is gone. He was not happy with his inconsistent utilization by Hue Jackson last year. After the 0-16 season, the vibes coming off of Crowell screamed, “I’m signing with any team in 2018 but Cleveland.” Even if the free agent market isn’t very lucrative for him, I think he’d take a cheap deal elsewhere just to get away from Cleveland.

As far as a contract goes, after Le’Veon Bell, this is a pretty lackluster free agency class for running backs. Crowell is probably the second-best back after Bell, and could be in line for a $5 to $6 million per year. I’d guess around 3 years, $18 million. It’s something Cleveland could afford easily, but like I said earlier, don’t count on it. The Browns seem likely to pursue another running back in the draft.

Let us know below whether or not the team should try to re-sign Isaiah Crowell!

Poll

Should the Browns re-sign RB Isaiah Crowell?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Yes
    (727 votes)
  • 73%
    No
    (1988 votes)
2715 votes total Vote Now