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3 free agents the Browns should avoid signing

This year’s free agent signings will be significant and critical

Kansas City Chiefs v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Browns have needs all across the roster. Some groups are greater than others whereas there are a few units that look like they could stand pat - such as special teams, cornerback, running back, and offensive guard.

But even in obvious need positions, there are players out there that on the surface might be an athlete on Cleveland’s radar. We are here to place a stop to that nonsense and avoid a crucial mistake.

Players the Browns should avoid signing: 2023 edition.

NFL: DEC 24 Titans at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

QB Marcus Mariota

On the surface, this appears to be a great fit. Cleveland is going into the 2023 season with Deshaun Watson and Kellen Mond as his primary backup. This equates to a need of an experienced signal-caller in the event Watson becomes injured. And Mariota has a lot that would interest the Browns in a backup. He is 6’4” and weighs 222 pounds. He also runs a 4.52 in the 40.

Mariota has similar skills as Watson, which is what his backup should possess so that the offense won’t have to be altered at some point. And he would come relatively cheap.

Atlanta originally had signed him to a two-year deal yet released him after only one season. This is odd because the Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith was the OC in Tennessee when Mariota was their starting QB.

So, why is Mariota on this list if he checks so many boxes?


With Atlanta, he had a knee strain that landed him in IR. It was later diagnosed as a chronic knee condition.

In 2021, Mariota missed the preseason because of a quad injury. A month later, he aggravated a strained quadriceps, was placed on IR and missed five games. The year before it was a cervical neck stinger. In 2018, he suffered a chest pectoral strain Grade 2 before the season began which landed him on IR for five games. Later in the season, twice he had a neck stinger which caused him to miss two games.

Other injuries: 2017 – hamstring pull; 2016 – broken fibula; 2015 – right shoulder sprain, MCL sprain Grade 2, sprained right MCL.

In eight seasons in the league, Mariota has not played an entire year. As much promise and NFL experience that Mariota has, the probability that he will get hurt in 2023 is 40%, or 3% per contest. The Browns need more insurance than that.

Philadelphia Eagles v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

DE Yannick Ngakoue

There was a time when Ngakoue would wreak havoc in the offensive backfield and could guarantee any defensive unit from eight to a dozen sacks a year.

Not known to be an exceptional run support, Ngakoue’s play has significantly dropped off since then. Once the best available pass rusher in free agency, he has struggled in most categories except for sacks which he accumulated 8.5 this past season.

He graded out on Pro Football Focus at a paltry 51.4. His pass-rushing numbers remain healthy, but his inability to stop the run is a good indication of why his stint with Indianapolis was his fifth team in the past four years. His total tackles in the past five seasons are: 29, 28, 11, 12 and 23.

Although Ngakoue is just 27 years old and this year is a thin crop for pass rushers, Cleveland’s needs are more of a run stopper who can penetrate on passing downs. The veteran pass rusher was entering the final year of his two-year, $21 million contract to which Indy had to make a decision to allow Ngakoue to test free agency. So far, he’s proven why the Colts chose the former.

Tennessee Titans v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

WR Robert Woods

  • Woods is reportedly signing with the Houston Texans

The former second-round pick of Buffalo back in 2013 is a former track star so you know he can run. When healthy, he will take the top off the defense. Sadly, being injury-prone is his greatest ability.

A back injury, knee and ankle sprains, groin tear, and a foot injury all occurred in just his first four seasons. When he was finally healthy, he busted out for 1,219 and 1,134 yards in back-to-back seasons with the Los Angeles Rams which included eight touchdowns.

But a left shoulder sprain, another groin injury plus a torn ACL in the Rams’ Super Bowl run all hindered his playing time. After a trade with Tennessee, he experienced career lows in receptions (53), total receiving yards (527) and touchdowns (2). He went from making $6.5 million in 2019 to signing with the Titans for $1.12 million.

If Cleveland inked him to a free-agent contract, Woods would have a 91% chance of being injured. Despite his talent and downfield threat, let’s just pass.