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Browns Free Agency: 5 players tiered from “must re-sign” to “no thanks”

We look at 5 of Cleveland’s pending free agents, and their re-signing priority levels.

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Cleveland Browns v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have 26 current players who are set to become free agents on March 13th. The team is going to have quite a few tough decisions to make regarding different position groups, but Andrew Berry and the rest of this Browns front office have done an excellent job in this area as of late.

Out of the team’s 26 free agents, only 7 of them played over 30% of offensive or defensive snaps in 2023. Though there aren’t many “core” players hitting free agency, there’s a decent amount of guys that have been solid contributors for the team throughout their tenures in Cleveland.

Here are 5 of the team’s pending free agents, and their priority level of being re-signed when the new league year begins.

Must re-sign

Maurice Hurst

2023 Stats: 22 tackles, 4 TFL, 1.5 sacks. 1 fumble recovery, 1 Interception, 10 QB pressures

PFF Grade: 81.0

Hurst ended up being one of Cleveland’s top free agent signings of the 2023 offseason, and he solidified this statement with his play during the regular season. Before his injury in week 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, he was having a dominant year for the Browns. He was a preeminent force all season long as an interior pass rusher, as well as an asset against the run.

Hurst was actually graded out as one of the best defensive tackles in the league on a play-by-play basis in 2023. It would be incredibly surprising to see Cleveland pass up on the opportunity to bring him back.

Projected APY: $2,186,000

Should re-sign

Sione Takitaki

2023 Stats: 65 tackles, 3 TFL,2 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass deflections

PFF Grade: 68.7

Takitaki has been a valuable member of this team’s linebacker core for the majority of his 5-year NFL career so far. He’s always been one of the Browns’ better run defenders when on the field and has played a fairly large role on special teams as well. His overall versatility and production have been above-average as both a starter and a sub-package defender since he’s been in Cleveland.

There’s a chance that the team looks for cheaper options in free agency, but Takitaki is a reliable piece of this stout defense that should be re-signed.

Projected APY: $4,778,000

Could re-sign

Corey Bojorquez

2023 Stats: 87 punts, 4294 yards, 49.4 yards per punt, 35.6% inside the 20.

Bojorquez has been a very consistent punter throughout his 2-year career in Cleveland, and that’s a great sign for a punter, especially with the type of weather that special teams’ players have to deal with being next to Lake Erie. He had a big year in 2023, averaging almost 50 yards per punt and pinning 31 of them inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the team bring “Bojo” back next month based on his familiarity with and performance in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Projected APY: $2,899,000

Maybe

Nick Harris

2023 Stats: 2 starts at C, 311 total offensive snaps played, 0 sacks allowed

PFF Grade: 59.5

Nick Harris has been a fun story in Cleveland, going from being seen as the team’s starting center for a short period to becoming the team’s starting “fullback” in the 2023 season. He’s always been an athletic, technically sound player on the offensive line but his time in Cleveland might be coming to an end.

The Browns most likely drafted Luke Wypler in the 2023 NFL Draft to be the team’s backup center going forward, and it’s unclear whether or not this new offensive staff will value his fullback skills.

Projected APY: $2,286,000

No thanks

Jacob Phillips

Phillips has only participated in 20 games since being drafted in 2020, and he’s shown quite a few major flaws when he did manage to get on the field. He was out for the entire 2023 season due to a torn pectoral muscle that he suffered in a preseason game against the Commanders.

There’s no reason that Cleveland should consider bringing Phillips back for a 2nd contract.

Projected APY: $1,500,000+


Who do you think the Browns should re-sign in March? Join fellow Browns fans in the comment section below.