NFL free agency is all about the big names, the big money and the big headlines. Rarely do players make it to free agency without some significant reason why their former team didn’t retain them early. Sometimes it is due to injuries, age, performance, attitude or fit with a new regime.
Other times, the NFL salary cap plays a role.
This offseason, the Cleveland Browns have a large number of free agents but not a lot of top-flight ones. Thankfully, Browns GM Andrew Berry has a lot of salary cap flexibility to make moves in free agency if he wants to.
While Cleveland fans dream of WR Tee Higgins, DT Chris Jones and DE Josh Allen, Pro Football Focus has the Browns shooting a little lower on the rung of free agents for the player they “should” sign:
CLEVELAND BROWNS: WR MARQUISE BROWN
As the Browns look to take a step forward in 2024, finding a player who can win downfield would be smart. Brown was once again held back by injuries in 2023, perhaps meaning he is set to sign a one-year, prove-it deal, but has made plays downfield throughout his NFL career. His six receptions on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield this past season resulted in 175 yards and a touchdown.
This Marquise could replace WR Marquise Goodwin as Cleveland’s deep threat but, as noted, has struggled with injuries. In 2023, with a few different quarterbacks throwing him the ball for the Arizona Cardinals, Brown caught 51 passes for 574 yards.
Brown’s best season came in 2021 with the Baltimore Ravens when he had 91 receptions for 1,008 yards.
PFF has Brown ranked as the 17th-best free agent in this year’s class, a sign of the lack of depth this year. They estimate Brown’s contract at 1 year, $12 million in 2024. WR Gabe Davis has the same estimate while fellow receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Tyler Boyd, DJ Chark and Michael Thomas come in at lower yearly averages in the estimations.
Do you think Brown is the type of player the Browns need to take the next step?