Now that we’ve covered all of the Cleveland Browns’ unrestricted free agents, let’s take a look at the team’s four restricted free agents. The Browns will have to make decisions on these players by 4:00 PM ET on March 17th. An explanation on what restricted free agents are, along with this year’s tender amounts, are in the sidebar to the right.
List of the Browns’ Restricted Free Agents
- WR KhaDarel Hodge
- LG Anthony Fabiano
- LB Tae Davis
- CB Tavierre Thomas
Biggest Storyline: The biggest name on the list is WR KhaDarel Hodge, who used to be a key contributor on special teams but grew his role as a wide receiver in 2020. I had a bit of a bias against Hodge at first, because I was irked that WR Rashard Higgins wasn’t receiving more playing time instead. Hodge proved to be a reliable receiver when called upon, though, and I can recall a few instances where he hauled in tough catches in do-or-die moments to help move the chains.
It’s hard to believe that Hodge only had 11 catches for 180 yards on the season — it seemed like he was involved a bit more than that. The market for his services won’t be there from outside teams to warrant a first- or second-round tender, so then the question is whether the team wants to give him an original round tender for $2.133 million.
Hodge was only making $750,000 this pastseason, so that would be quite the price hike for Hodge on a one-year deal, especially in a season where the salary cap isn’t going up. I don’t think the Browns will tender Hodge — instead, I think they will try to sign him to a multi-year deal, such as a 2-year contract worth $2.2 million.
Rest of the Group:
- CB Tavierre Thomas: The cat is already out of the bag on Thomas, according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. It says the Browns do not plan on tendering Thomas, who, like Hodge, made only $750,000 this past season. Spoiler alert: if Hodge and Thomas aren’t good enough to be tendered, then the next two guys (Fabiano and Davis) definitely won’t receive it either. Thomas stepped in as the team’s nickelback this season when Kevin Johnson was hurt, but the results were not satisfactory. He was second on the Browns in special teams tackles with 10 and has been considered a special teams ace in the past. I think it would be fair for Cleveland to offer him a 1-year deal worth the minimum salary, but we’ll see if he accepts that or opts for a change in scenery.
- OL Anthony Fabiano: Fabiano was signed heading into the Browns’ postseason run as depth, marking his third stint with the club. He definitely won’t be tendered.
- LB Tae Davis: Lastly, we have Davis, who didn’t end up playing on defense but finished the season with 7 special teams tackles. Davis won’t receive a tender, but could be in a similar position as the other players with respect to a minimum salary contract offer.
Browns’ Exclusive Rights Free Agents
I was planning to write an article on whether the Browns should tender their exclusive rights free agents, but the team ended up acting on them on Friday. As reported, TE Stephen Carlson and DE Porter Gustin were both tendered. In the case of contributing ERFA’s, they are obvious moves, because the tenders are worth the minimum salary already.
No announcements were made on the team’s other two ERFA’s, DE George Obinna and CB Brian Allen. Neither player was on the active roster in 2020, so I am not expecting them to be tendered.