Welcome to Day 4 of free agency for the Cleveland Browns and the rest of the NFL! Day 3 brought the official signing of several free agents along with another signing of a defensive player to a one-year contract.
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.)
2020 Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Day 4
5:45 PM: While the Colts said “hello” to Philip Rivers, quarterback Jameis Winston took to social media to say farewell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
It's been a great 5 seasons as a Buccaneer. All love and respect, I love Tampa and I look forward to seeing y'all again in February. #SBLV #2020Vision #Dreamforever pic.twitter.com/MIPiCfreXW— Jameis Winston (@Jaboowins) March 21, 2020
Winston, of course, lost his job when Tampa Bay made the decision to sign Tom Brady in free agency.
3:45 PM: Not Browns related (exactly), but the Indianapolis Colts have officially signed quarterback Philip Rivers:
A message from the man himself: pic.twitter.com/2clX1UcAAL— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) March 21, 2020
With Rivers in Indianapolis, that means former Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer’s time with the Colts has come to an end:
With Philip Rivers signing and Jacoby Brissett due $15M this year, Hoyer is on his way out (I know, I know, NE may need another QB). This is another sign Indy will keep Brissett. https://t.co/jleJARpGfP— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 21, 2020
1:55 PM: The details of safety Karl Joseph’s contract are out, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter:
Including the $2.5 million in base salary, new Browns safety Karl Joseph has a roster bonus of $31,250 per game on the 48-man roster. Could add up to another $1 million in NLTBEs via interceptions and playing time.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) March 21, 2020
12:25 PM: The Indianapolis Colts have released cornerback Pierre Desir, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
Source: The #Colts are releasing Pierre Desir.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 21, 2020
Desir spent two seasons with the Cleveland Browns after being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Not sure if general manager Andrew Berry would have any interest in bringing Desir back to town, but the Browns can certainly do worse - and have done worse - when it comes to looking for a suitable third cornerback in recent years.
12 PM: Grading how teams do in free agency, especially when no one has seen the new players in even a basic practice, can be a bit silly. But it is also harmless, so let’s take a look at how SI.com’s Conor Orr grades the two biggest free agent signings by the Browns:
Tight end Austin Hooper: I would try, for a moment, to look past the optics of the Browns reportedly signing the largest tight end contract in NFL history. By the time a wave of premium extensions from other tight ends around the league hit, this will not look as gargantuan as it does now. This was a move that immediately pacifies new head coach Kevin Stefanski, who requires a tandem of dangerous tight ends to run his offense most effectively. In theory, Hooper and David Njokou is something for opposing defense to game plan for. GRADE: B-
Right tackle Jack Conklin: While this could all be said about the flurry of moves Cleveland made last year, this was a slam dunk and represented the Browns’ biggest need this offseason. Negating the offensive line in free agency last year was a missile headed straight for Baker Mayfield’s development. There was plenty of competition for Conklin this spring and perhaps a twinge of regret down the road for the Titans, who signed Dennis Kelly as a replacement later on in the day. Conklin had one of the best pass block win rates among tackles in the NFL last year. That is relief for Mayfield who, along with a much more sensible play action game, is going to have more time and more receivers to throw to. GRADE: B+
11 AM: Details are starting to come out about the contract the Browns are giving right tackle Jack Conklin. According to Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk:
On paper, Conklin signed a five-year deal. By its language, however, the contract voids to three years in February 2023, allowing Conklin to get back to the market again. Over the next three years, Conklin will earn $42 million, with $30 million of it guaranteed.
He gets the money in the form of a $15 million signing bonus, a fully-guaranteed 2020 base salary of $5 million, and a fully-guaranteed 2021 base salary of $10 million.
So it’s a two-year, $30 million deal with a team option to extend the deal to a third season at $12 million. If the Browns make it a three-year deal, Conklin will earn on average $14 million per year.
10:10 AM: We have our first bit of news today as the Browns are reportedly signing cornerback Donovan Olumba, according to Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports:
Former cowboys CB Donovan Olumba will sign with Browns, per source— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) March 21, 2020
Olumba was released by the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday. He joined Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and spent all but one game of his tenure with the Cowboys on the team’s practice squad.