Back in the day, it was Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News, Sports, Lindy’s Sports, Football Digest, and a handful of lesser-known publications if you wanted to get your NFL news on a national basis.
The one national sports pub that had everyone’s attention was Sports Illustrated (SI). They became known as front and center with anything to do with any sporting event. Their first issue came out in 1954 and Issue #1 brings a healthy sum.
Their reputation continues today.
So when SI comes out with bold predictions of what they expect from the 2023 Cleveland Browns, we as fans listen.
Writer Conner Orr made 100 predictions for the upcoming NFL season, with three being dedicated to the Browns.
#1: Myles Garrett will win Defensive Player of the Year
This one is not so far-fetched or eye-opening now that Jim Schwartz has been named the defensive coordinator. Schwartz’s defense relies on two defensive linemen to be All-World with pressure on the quarterback while the other two DLs are complimentary chess pieces.
Here is what Orr states:
“The Browns spent their offseason intent on setting him up for more good runs at the quarterback. This defense, with a different look under new coordinator Jim Schwartz, could be near dominant. Garrett will lead the league in sacks.”
In the past three seasons, Garrett has had 16, 16, and 12 respectively. And that was in former DC Joe Woods’ system.
Schwartz will emphasize outstanding defensive line play centered around a dominant interior lineman plus an equally dominant defensive end. While the DC with the Philadelphia Eagles, Schwartz inherited a unit that ranked 30th in yards allowed and 28th in points given. In two seasons, those numbers changed to fourth in both categories.
Schwartz explained to USA Today:
“We need to come up with a good plan. We need to execute. We need to keep in mind what we’re good at, keep in mind our matchups and all those different things. And if we do a good enough job at that, we’ll be able to come out with a victory.”
#2. Deshaun Watson will finish the season with a career-high in rushing yards and touchdowns
Everybody associated with the Browns is counting on Watson to have a career year. Here at DBN we asked the question of what happens if he does not return to his 3-time Pro Bowl self. This offense has to keep him healthy and get him back to what he once was.
It is a certainty that Watson has to know his contract comes with high expectations. This was not shown in the final six games he commandeered with Cleveland going down the stretch last year. He was mediocre at best.
Watson has always had a good feel for when to leave the pocket and gain yardage with his legs. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018, 2019, and 2020. In those seasons, he rushed for 551, 413, and 444 yards, respectively, and scored 15 total rushing touchdowns.
Orr offered his reasoning for this assessment:
“While I have not yet done my total-season record predictions, I, like the rest of you, imagine the Browns will be pretty good. The team is solid through the trenches and has a quarterback who you win because of, not with. I think that Watson will undoubtedly feel the pressure of his contract and, while he’s still getting up to speed at the NFL level, will use his athleticism to make plays while his arm catches up. Call it a way to avoid pressing, but 551 yards and seven touchdowns over the course of a 17-game season are not huge barriers to break.”
#3. The Browns will acquire DeAndre Hopkins
Well, this may take a second to decipher. But, things just may be lining up as we speak.
Hopkins was set to make over $19 million when he was abruptly released from the Arizona Cardinals. Any star player will take less from the next suitor, but not a huge cut. At the beginning of this week, Cleveland just had $7 million under the cap.
However, the Browns are set to add an additional $10 million this week and gain $8.9 million in cap space. Suddenly, Cleveland is in the financial ballpark to offer Hopkins a contract.
Which of course would mean he would be reunited with his former quarterback in Watson who has come out publicly and stated he would love to have Hopkins on the Browns.
Orr stated this:
“I think Browns management knows, deep down, that after they completely embarrassed themselves in acquiring Deshaun Watson, the only aspect of the move that could make them look worse would be if Watson underperforms. Through six games as a Brown, Watson has underperformed. Hopkins has already succeeded in extricating himself from one of the worst franchises in sports. Now he gets to pick his next NFL home In Cleveland, he can reunite with the QB from his three first-team All-Pro seasons.”
This week, Hopkins made a move that could be interpreted several ways: he hired a new agent in Kelton Crenshaw of Klutch Sports Group.
Former #AZCardinals star WR DeAndre Hopkins has hired agent Kelton Crenshaw of @KlutchSports to represent him in free agency, source says. Hopkins had previously represented himself before signing with Crenshaw, who also reps Chase Young, Kayvon Thibodeaux and DeVonta Smith.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 30, 2023
Crenshaw’s client list includes Chase Young, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and DeVonta Smith which are all employed by NFC East franchises.
Hopkins’ future landing spot has been a major talking point over the last few days with several teams expected to pitch their clubs as the one to sign with. That list includes the New York Football Giants, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions plus the Browns.
Here is an article on why the Lions is the best landing spot for Hopkins.
During a Monday appearance on the “I Am Athlete” podcast, when asked, Hopkins stated he had five quarterbacks that he would prefer to snag passes from: Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert. Despite playing together all those years in Houston, Watson was omitted from his list.
Keep in mind, the Browns currently have 12 receivers under contract. The starting projections are Amari Cooper, DPJ, Elijah Moore, and Marquis Goodwin. Other reps expected are for rookie Cedric Tillman and David Bell.
The best guess on a contract number for Hopkins’ market value would be somewhere around half of what he would have made with the Cardinals. Incentives would be tacked on which would garner him a higher salary. His next deal in all likelihood would be a little under $10 million,
Which Cleveland now has.
What is your opinion of if DeAndre Hopkins could be signed for around $10 million
This poll is closed
Love it - sign him
Spend that money somewhere else
So, 12 receivers aren’t enough?