After last season, when the Browns made a bunch of big free agent moves in the off-season to little result on the field, it’s good to see them bulk up their signing numbers again this season. We are less than a week into the free agency process, and already the Browns have signed three players. None of the signings have the appeal of a LeCharles Bentley from last season, but they show a commitment from the Browns to do whatever they can to add depth to a very shallow roster.
First the expensive signing. The Browns signed OG/OT Eric Steinbach to a seven year, $49.5 million deal to help bolster an offensive line which was grotesquely out-manned last season. Also, by signing an offensive lineman from Cincinnati, the Browns add to their roster by subtracting from a rival.
So this was a pretty big-time signing with a high cap number, but the rest of the signings are more in line with what the Browns need to do as an overall roster strategy. They need to sign a lot of second-tier guys who will add depth to the roster while not taking up too much money on the cap.
The Browns re-signed Hank Fraley to come back and play center as LeCharles Bentley will most likely have to sit out another full season due to additional knee surgeries. Fraley isn’t flashy, but it he is a veteran and provides some year-over-year stability at center, which should be somewhat beneficial on a line that’s had a whole lot of turnover since the Browns returned in 1999.
The Browns also signed a nine year veteran cornerback in Kenny Wright. Wright isn’t really all that exciting when compared to guys like Nate Clements who were previously available, but he adds veteran experience and depth, a serious position of need on the Brown’s roster. After losing Gary Baxter and Dayleon McCutcheon last season, the only consistent player at cornerback was Leigh Bodden, and even he couldn’t remain healthy for the entire schedule last season.
So, the Browns continue to plod along in free agency. Hopefully they will continue to sign meaningful guys who will add depth to the roster. Depth is really the key here. The Browns aren’t really one or two guys away. They are probably 10 to 15 guys away from being a really competitive team. With that many needs, it will be good to see them continue to find a lot of second-tier guys to add to positions of need. This is also why they should trade down in the draft to gain more picks, but we will have to wait and see if that comes to fruition in the coming months.