Facts with Felty: What moves do the Browns need to make in the offseason?


AP Photo/David Richard

“Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) reacts during the first half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Cleveland.” (AP Photo/David Richard)

Dylan Feltovich, Staff Reporter

This is our year.

No, let me try that again.

This WILL be our year.


This WAS our year.


There it is. The famous statement said by every Cleveland sports fan, and the stages each fan goes through.


As a Cleveland sports fan myself, I always seem to ask myself, “why do we set such high expectations, knowing that we struggle to achieve them?” Instead of just Cleveland fans overhyping the Browns this season, a lot of the sports media industry fabricated a high standard for the Browns to achieve. 


Famous names in the industry like Skip Bayless and Chris Simms believed the Browns could win the AFC and conquer strong teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens and the Buffalo Bills. Since general manager Andrew Berry solved our “only” issue, the secondary, we were destined for greatness.




Despite what everyone believed, the organization did not address the deep, underlying issues that would truly haunt the Browns this season. Yes, Cleveland experienced many complications out of their control, like injuries. However, a multitude of different problems arose over the course of the season that need to be addressed this offseason.


QB Problems

In this league, there are two ways to run a winning franchise. You either have a superstar quarterback who can overcome any problems or a perfect team with a game-managing quarterback. The Kansas City Chiefs may not have a perfect team, but Patrick Mahomes has proven he can overcome most obstacles to win a game. On the opposite spectrum, you have the San Francisco 49ers, who have an average quarterback but a system and a team that find ways to win games.


Both teams are competing for a chance at the Super Bowl this season.


Last season, the Browns attempted to build the ideal roster around a quarterback who is considered a game manager.


However, this was not the case.


In order to be a top-tier game manager, the main priority is to be accurate and make completions when needed, especially in big-time moments. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are the most well-known game managers because they executed their role in big moments. 


Baker Mayfield has countlessly failed in clutch moments.


Even before the injury-riddled season, Mayfield’s main knock was his ability to complete passes in crunch time. If you look at Week 1 this season against the Chiefs, he threw an interception that gave Kansas City their first victory of the 2021 season.


This below-par play in game-deciding moments has been historically bad.



In this data chart, %OE (Offensive Efficiency) represents how successful drives are compared to what was expected. The data takes all the drives that a quarterback has been in a tie or trailing up to 16 points with less than 10 minutes and determines if he performed or underperformed. 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who just took down the mighty Green Bay Packers, ranks 10th all-time since 1999.


Baker Mayfield? 101, two spots behind backup Case Keenum.


In order to take the next step, the Cleveland Browns need a drastic change at the quarterback spot. Whether it is trading for Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, or Russell Wilson, the Browns desperately need a quarterback that can be reliable in a two-minute drill. This team has proven to be elite, and it deserves a quarterback that will not drag them down.


New Weapons

Along with poor quarterback play throughout the season, the wide receiving core was horrendous. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Cleveland’s highest-rated wide receiver all season was Jarvis Landry, who finished with a 66.3 rating(73rd best out of all qualifying wide receivers). Their “best wide receiver,” Odell Beckham Jr., is now catching passes in the NFC Championship after a massive fallout.


Despite the quarterback situation, the Browns need to revamp their wideouts for 2022. Luckily for Andrew Berry, general manager of the Cleveland Browns, there are a plethora of wide receivers in the draft and free agency class.


In the draft, the Browns will most likely target a wide receiver with their first round pick. With the 13th pick, Cleveland will have the cream of the crop due to teams ahead of them with primary concerns that are not wide receivers.


Browns fans should watch out for three names: Drake London from University of Southern California, Garrett Wilson from The Ohio State University, and Treylon Burks from University of Arkansas.


Both London and Burks are  very physical and athletic wide receivers. London and Burks feature a rare combination of speed and size at 6-foot, 5 inches tall and 6-foot, 3 inches tall.


 While Garrett isn’t as physically gifted as the other two, he is the best separator in this draft class. Size can be a plus for a quarterback who struggles, but a threat that can quickly get open can be a blessing.


Even if the Browns trade their first round pick for a new quarterback, multiple wideouts will fall to the second round that can fill the void. Prospects like David Bell from Purdue, Jahan Dotson from Penn State, and John Metchie III from University of Alabama could find their way to Cleveland.


The draft is not the only way the Browns need to fix their pass-catching problem. Odds are they won’t land a superstar like Davante Adams, but they could sign a reliable pass catcher to be the number one.


Three players that could be linked to the Browns are Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson and Michael Gallup. Godwin, one of the best route runners in the league, may be out of reach. However, Robinson and Gallup are two wideouts who fly under the radar due to a poor, outlier season in 2021.


A dynamic one-two punch could give the Browns offense a new dimension in the 2022 season.


Addressing Free Agency

Other than signing a wide receiver, the Browns need to retain two key free agents, 

Jadeveon Clowney and Tight End David Njoku. 


Clowney may not be the most flashy EDGE rusher, but his role is crucial in the Browns pass rush. He is good enough where teams can’t put all their focus on edge Myles Garrett, which applies pressure on opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines. 


The former first-overall pick totaled 37 tackles with 19 quarterback hits to finish his 2021 campaign.


On the offensive side, the Browns should look to keep longtime Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku.


A quarterback‘s best friend is a reliable tight end, and Njoku is a safety blanket to Brown’s passing game. Njoku was a physical target for the Browns. Standing at 6’4”, 246, he fits the new wide receiver/tight end hybrid that is taking the league by storm.


To round off the primer defense, the Browns lastly will be on the hunt for help on the interior of the defensive line. Browns’ defensive lineman finished the season with horrendous grades, and it proved to be one spot Cleveland struggled with all season.


Fortunately, there is a market for the big men upfront. If they want to look at a veteran to solidify the line, look no further than Akiem Hicks and Calais Campbell. Both can provide an immediate impact on the pass and rush game. If they wanted to take a younger direction, Folorunso Fatukasi and B.J. Hill should be two talented players the Browns could ink for 2022.


For all the Browns fans who have stayed with the team through the pain and suffering: stay with them. To all the doubters: trust the process. It’s hard to remain positive through heartbreak, but the time will soon come.