Welcome to Day 4 of free agency week for the Cleveland Browns, but more importantly, the second day of the league year which means any signings and trades are official. If you missed our Day 3 live blog, check it out here.
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)
2021 Browns Free Agency Live Blog - Day 4
7:20 PM: Hmmm, so now is the time when we can fantasize about the thought of converting to a shutdown secondary.
The #Bears are releasing veteran CB Kyle Fuller, sources say, a cap casualty. In a tough 2021 offseason, this is Chicago’s only cut due to cap space. A former All-Pro corner now hits the market.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
7:03 PM: Former Browns CB Kevin Johnson is signing with the Tennessee Titans on a 1-year deal. No word on the financials yet.
Former Browns’ CB Kevin Johnson is going to the Titans on a one-year deal, per @DrewJRosenhaus. Back to the AFC South, where he once starred for the Texans.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2021
6:48 PM: We see that DT Larry Ogunjobi cashed in for the Bengals. Even though it’s only one year, I don’t fault him at all for taking this deal. You also have to think that the Bengals kind of overpaid a bit. It’s essentially a 1-year deal with $6.2 million guaranteed.
Larry Ogunjobi (Bengals) one year, $6.2M, $4.6M signing bonus; salary $1.4M, up to $200K per game active roster bonus, up to $1M sacks incentive— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 18, 2021
6:38 PM: Here is our article on the Browns signing CB Troy Hill. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports likes what Andrew Berry has done with the Browns, taking his time to choose great value and not mortgaging the house down the line. You have to agree: the strong offense has been kept in tact, while the defense has seen upgrades in the secondary. Don’t forget that we still have the draft too.
Berry is having a great free agency picking and choosing without blowing a lot of money or mortgaging down the line. It’s a nice start after a really good offseason last year. And the #Browns aren’t done. At least 1 more good piece (and possibly 2) can/will be added on defense. https://t.co/3WORVwKOvj— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 18, 2021
6:15 PM: The Browns have reportedly signed offensive lineman Greg Senat to a one-year deal, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot:
#Browns have signed OL Greg Senat to a one-year deal, source says— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 18, 2021
Senat, who is 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, opened the 2020 season on Cleveland’s practice squad before being signed by the Dallas Cowboys in early October. Originally a sixth-round selection by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2018 NFL Draft, he spent the majority of his rookie season on injured reserve with a foot injury that caused him additional trouble when he Tweeted out a photo of his injured foot in a walking boot.
Senat was waived by the Ravens in 2019 and picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs, where he spent most of the 2019 season on Kansas City’s injured reserve list.
5:35 PM: The Browns have added another new face to the secondary as they have reportedly signed former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Troy Hill to a four-year, $24 million deal, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
The #Browns are signing former #Rams CB Troy Hill to a 4-year, $24M deal, source said, adding to their defensive haul in free agency. The Youngstown native, who had three defensive TDs last year, returns home.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2021
Hill spent the past five seasons with the Rams, making 39 starts. He has seven career interceptions, 172 solo tackles, and three fumble recoveries.
4:54 PM: Here are the contract details for LB Malcolm Smith; he takes up a little less than $1 million in cap space. We’re still waiting to see the detailed contract extension information for WR Rashard Higgins, even though we already know it is fully guaranteed.
3:10 PM: Fullback Johnny Stanton is showing that he is a team player by switching his uniform number to 40 so newly signed safety John Johnson III can retain his No. 43, according to WEWS reporter Camryn Justice. (No word on what type of financial incentive Stanton may have received for giving up the number.)
#Browns FB Johnny Stanton will switch to No. 40 this season, which opens up No. 43 for S John Johnson to keep in Cleveland.— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) March 18, 2021
2:40 PM: I’m going to work on posts for the contracts that WR Rashard Higgins and LB Malcolm Smith agreed to. Then, I’ll come back here to provide an update on how much available cap space Cleveland should have, with those additions in mind.
2:30 PM: In a small roster move, the Browns announced that they have waived OT Drake Dorbeck. After opting out of the 2020 season, he would have been able to return this year, but was on a 3-year deal. The Browns will carry $1,500 in dead cap for Dorbeck. He had a $5,000 incentive bonus too, but I’m unclear if that was earned or not.
10:54 AM: Last night, DT Larry Ogunjobi signed a 1-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals. I haven’t seen the terms of his deal yet. I wish him the best of luck — although you always prefer to see a player go outside the division. Ultimately, I didn’t mind the Browns not re-signing him. As much as you hate to see it, the numbers don’t line about his production as a starter vs. rotational player.
The year-over-year regression of Larry Ogunjobi's play over his first four seasons is shocking. Hopefully DL coach Marion Hobby can bring out the best in him. pic.twitter.com/LSwoVAHON3— John Baines (@johnthebaines) March 18, 2021
10:35 AM: Good morning, Browns fans! Free agency is always one of my busiest weeks of the year for covering Browns news, along with draft week. It just so happened that this year, for the first time, free agency week coincided with a virtual conference that I’ve been attending all week related to my full time job. I just finished my own presentation for that this morning, and I think I had over 400 attendees! Thanks to Thomas Moore for stepping in to help run the live blog when I was busy last night and prepping for today. -CP
The big news for Cleveland fans last night is that WR Rashard Higgins re-signed with the team. Before free agency started, I predicted a 2-year, $4.5 million deal for Higgins. His actual deal? 1-year, $2.38 million, fully guaranteed. That’s along the same lines, and I truly feel like it’s a discount, making me appreciate Higgins all-the-more. I place no blame on players who go for the biggest contract, but it’s also nice to hear guys like Higgins and FS John Johnson take less money to play for a team they feel more passionate about — that tells me you’re really going to get an all-out effort from them, as well as some good team chemistry in the locker room.
10:25 AM: The Browns are hosting linebacker Anthony Walker of the Indianapolis Colts for a visit today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Colts free-agent LB Anthony Walker is visiting the Browns today, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2021
Walker has played four seasons with the Colts, and was a starter the past three years. In 2020, he finished with 92 tackles, an interception, five passes defensed and recovered a fumble. If the Browns are interested in Walker that could be a sign that they are not looking to re-sign linebacker B.J. Goodson.
Goodson finished with a higher overall ranking from Pro Football Focus last season - 21st compared to 69th for Walker - so other than being a couple of years younger, Walker may not be much of an improvement at the position.
10:10 AM: The Cleveland Browns are off and running as they are re-signing wide receiver/kick returner JoJo Natson, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot:
WR JoJo Natson re-signing with the #Browns after coming off a torn ACL in last season— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) March 18, 2021
Natson played in three games for the Browns in 2020 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. He had three punt returns for 25 yards and one kickoff return for 31 yards.