NFL free agency is a long winding road with a lot o bumps between now and the start of training camp with, generally, a couple of curves after that until the start of the season. That road starts out downhill with a lot of speed but quickly comes to an uphill slog with a few decisions here and there.
The additions have been important for the Cleveland Browns even if the names were not the biggest on the market. So far GM Andrew Berry has added or retained four starters which received high praise already:
- Center Ethan Pocic
- FS Juan Thornhill
- DT Dalvin Tomlinson
- DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Beyond those four, the following essential depth pieces are on the Browns roster:
- TE Jordan Akins
- LB Sione Takitaki
- CB AJ Green
Finally, according to reports, Cleveland added two upside players at defensive tackle that could help fill depth needs and, if all goes well, one can break out:
- DT Maurice Hurst - More of a 3-technique with a quick step
- DT Trysten Hill - Still not officially done, Hill is more of a nose tackle to take up blockers
Health and production haven’t shown up yet but taking cheap lottery tickets out on Hurst and Hill makes sense. Hurst would have been a late first, early second-round pick if a heart issue hadn’t popped up on his NFL combine medicals. Hill was a second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys.
Putting all that together, Pro Football Focus has given the Browns an A-, tied for the second-best grade in the NFL:
PFF’s highest graded teams in this year’s free agency ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/oN7iQJibRr— PFF (@PFF) March 18, 2023
A quick look at Miami’s offseason shows why they were given a high grade as they added top-end talent (Jalen Ramsey, David Long Jr.) and a ton of depth (DeShon Elliott, Mike White, Braxton Berrios, Dan Feeney) while losing, so far, Mike Gesicki who didn’t really fit the team’s offense.
Cincinnati’s grade, as the other AFC North team on the list, is more interesting. The Bengals lost their top two safeties (Jessie Bates III, Vonn Bell) and their primary backup running back (Samje Perine). Their big addition was LT Orlando Brown who was PFF’s 19th-rated tackle in the NFL last year. They also retained LB Germaine Pratt and upset OT Jonah Williams, with the Brown addition, so he’s asked for a trade.
In the end, all that matters is what happens on the field but we have a long, long road ahead before we can gather that information. So far, Berry has done what he can and, with some salary cap space left, might have a few moves left up his sleeves.