Rumors, reports and expectations are running rampant as NFL free agency is just days away. Fans of every team want to know what their team is going to do and are gobbling up information, or anything close to information, as quickly as they can.
For fans of the Cleveland Browns, we’ve tried to provide you with the best information we could at the NFL combine including interest in Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III and GM Andrew Berry’s aggressive nature in conversations.
Bates’ name has been tied to the Browns much of the offseason partially due to him sharing an agent with Cleveland QB Deshaun Watson. We also know that Bates is expecting a huge contract.
Just how big?
According to a report, Bates wants paid like Minkah Fitzpatrick’s deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Bates is looking for a contract similar to the 4-year, $84 million deal Minkah Fitzpatrick received with the Steelers last season.
Derwin James, Jamal Adams and Fitzpatrick are the three highest-paid safeties in the NFL. Bates seems destined to join that group this offseason but will he exceed their deals?
For the Browns, while Bates would be a helpful addition, paying that high of a price for one player this offseason may be better spent on the defensive line or split up between a couple of players. With only one true starter on the defensive line (Myles Garrett), spending a huge amount of their limited cap space on a safety may not work out for the team as a whole.
It is possible that Berry could get creative with Bates but look for Cleveland to pivot to more inexpensive safety options like Juan Thornhill and Julian Love if the Bengals safety gets his desired contract.