Browns Rumors

2024 Offseason In Review Series

As training camps near, the NFL offseason is winding down. Many unresolved matters remain — much of them pertaining to quarterbacks and wide receivers — but teams’ rosters are mostly set. Leading up to Week 1, PFR will continue to add to its annual Offseason In Review series. Here is where our latest offseason examinations stand so far:

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets

AFC North

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South

  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West

Browns RT Jack Conklin Set To Participate In Training Camp

The Browns were decimated by injuries at multiple spots last year, offensive tackle among them. Jedrick Wills, Jack Conklin and Dawand Jones each suffered season-ending injuries at various points in 2023, making their collective rehab progress a storyline worth monitoring.

Conklin went down in Week 1 with what turned out to be ACL and MCL tears. The 29-year-old underwent surgery and missed the remainder of the campaign, making 2023 his second Cleveland season during which he spent considerable time sidelined through injury. The two-time All-Pro missed OTAs and minicamp while rehabbing, but he recently revealed on Instagram that he has now recovered.

As a result, Conklin is on track to suit up for training camp this summer as he looks to re-claim his starting right tackle role. The former first-rounder should be considered the favorite in that regard, Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal confirms. Jones – who performed admirably filling in for Conklin during his rookie campaign and was healthy for spring practices – would return to backup status in the event Conklin were able to practice at full strength in advance of the 2024 season.

The Michigan State alum inked a four-year, $60MM extension in 2022 tying him to the Browns for the foreseeable future. Much of Conklin’s compensation in 2025 and ’26 consists of non-guaranteed base salaries, however, putting his post-2024 Cleveland future in doubt. His health and performance this fall will go a long way in determining how the Browns proceed at right tackle.

Jones is attached to his rookie contract for the next three years. The Ohio State alum made 11 appearances and nine starts before suffering his own injury, and he could represent a successor to Conklin depending on how the coming season plays out. In any event, better health up front would be a welcomed development for Cleveland compared to how last season ended.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured GMs

The NFL’s general manager ranks featured some key shakeups this offseason. One of the longest-tenured pure GMs in the game, Tom Telesco, lost his Chargers seat 11 years in. The Raiders, however, gave Telesco a second chance. He now controls the Las Vegas roster. Only Telesco and the Jaguars’ Trent Baalke reside as second-chance GMs currently.

Two long-serving personnel bosses also exited this offseason. The Patriots’ decision to move on from 24-year HC Bill Belichick gave Jerod Mayo a head coaching opportunity but also resulted in Eliot Wolf belatedly rising to the top of the team’s front office hierarchy. A former Packers and Browns exec, Wolf held decision-making power through the draft and kept it on an official basis soon after. While John Schneider arrived in Seattle with Pete Carroll in 2010, the latter held final say. Following Carroll’s ouster after 14 seasons, Schneider has full control.

[RELATED: The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches]

The Commanders changed GMs this offseason, hiring ex-San Francisco staffer Adam Peters, but Martin Mayhew received merely a demotion. The three-year Washington GM, who worked alongside Peters with the 49ers, is now in place as a senior personnel exec advising Peters. Rather than look outside the organization, Panthers owner David Tepper replaced Scott Fitterer with Dan Morgan, who had previously worked as the team’s assistant GM.

Going into his 23rd season running the Saints, Mickey Loomis remains the NFL’s longest-serving pure GM. This will mark the veteran exec’s third season without Sean Payton. An eight-year gap now exists between Loomis and the NFL’s second-longest-tenured pure GM.

As the offseason winds down, here is how the league’s 32 GM jobs look:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  4. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010; signed extension in 2021
  5. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010[3]; signed extension in 2022
  6. Les Snead (Los Angeles Rams): February 10, 2012; signed extension in 2022
  7. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014; signed extension in 2021
  8. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016[4]
  9. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017; signed extension in 2023
  10. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017; signed extension in 2021
  11. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017; signed extension in 2023
  12. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017; signed extension in 2024
  13. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018; agreed to extension in 2022
  14. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
  15. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  16. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020: signed extension in 2024
  17. Nick Caserio (Houston Texans): January 5, 2021
  18. George Paton (Denver Broncos): January 13, 2021
  19. Brad Holmes (Detroit Lions): January 14, 2021: agreed to extension in 2024
  20. Terry Fontenot (Atlanta Falcons): January 19, 2021
  21. Trent Baalke (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 21, 2021
  22. Joe Schoen (New York Giants): January 21, 2022
  23. Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears): January 25, 2022
  24. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings): January 26, 2022
  25. Omar Khan (Pittsburgh Steelers): May 24, 2022
  26. Monti Ossenfort (Arizona Cardinals): January 16, 2023
  27. Ran Carthon (Tennessee Titans): January 17, 2023
  28. Adam Peters (Washington Commanders): January 12, 2024
  29. Dan Morgan (Carolina Panthers): January 22, 2024
  30. Tom Telesco (Las Vegas Raiders): January 23, 2024
  31. Joe Hortiz (Los Angeles Chargers): January 29, 2024
  32. Eliot Wolf (New England Patriots): May 11, 2024

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. The Eagles bumped Roseman from the top decision-making post in 2015, giving Chip Kelly personnel power. Roseman was reinstated upon Kelly’s December 2015 firing.
  4. Although Grier was hired in 2016, he became the Dolphins’ top football exec on Dec. 31, 2018

Latest On Browns’ WR Corps

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will be throwing to a lot of the same targets in 2024 that he did last year, but the single addition of a player like Jerry Jeudy largely changes the outlook of that group. The acquisition of Jeudy solidifies Cleveland’s starting group, but some questions still remain further down the depth chart.

Amari Cooper did Amari Cooper things last year, and though he only reached the endzone five times, he put up a career high in receiving yards with 1,250. Former Jets second-round pick Elijah Moore benefitted from a change of scenery last year. Like Cooper, Moore put up a career-high 640 yards, though he only scored twice. Then, the room adds Jeudy, who has mostly failed to live up to his first-round draft stock over his four-year stint in Denver. His best year saw him catch 67 passes for 972 yards and six touchdowns, and if he can reach those peaks again, the top line of the receiving corps is in good shape.

Behind the likely starters, Cedric Tillman, David Bell, and James Proche return from last year. All three players were given opportunities to start following the trade of Donovan Peoples-Jones, but it was the rookie, Tillman, who showed the most growth and promise near the end of the year. According to Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal, those efforts and a strong spring in the absence of Cooper and Jeudy have likely secured Tillman in the WR4 position.

Bell and Proche, on the other hand, will likely join Michael Woods and rookie fifth-round pick Jamari Thrash, among a number of other names, for the remaining roster spots. Bell is likely safe. Though his yardage and target shares decreased last year from his rookie season, Bell finished second in the room last year with three touchdowns. Proche didn’t have any catches in 10 games with the team last year but became the team’s primary punt returner after the departure of Peoples-Jones. Proche’s special teams prowess helps his case, but he may need to show more on offense to earn a roster spot this year.

Thrash is perhaps the next most likely to keep a job as a recent draft pick. After a stellar 2022 campaign with Georgia State that saw him catch 61 balls for 1,122 yards and seven scores, Thrash transferred to Louisville and led the team by far in receptions (63), receiving yards (858), and receiving touchdowns (6). Woods, a sixth-round pick from 2022, faces longer odds after missing all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and receiving a six-game suspension for personal conduct. Behind them, players like Jaelon Darden, Jalen Camp, Matt Landers, and Ahmarean Brown make up the rest of the room competing for roster spots.

With Cooper, Jeudy, and Moore locked in as starters and Tillman seemingly the favorite as the first off the bench, there’s a remaining one to three spots on the roster, depending on the team’s preferences. A combination of Bell, Proche, and Thrash feels like the most likely outcome, but strong training camp performances from any of the others, or poor camps from any of those three, have the potential to shake things up a bit in Cleveland.

RBs D’Onta Foreman, Pierre Strong On Browns’ Roster Bubble?

Attention related to the Browns’ backfield will continue to be directed toward Nick Chubb while his rehab from multiple knee surgeries continues. It is unclear when he will be back on the field, and as training camp approaches Cleveland will have a number of contenders for depth running back spots.

Jerome Ford – who took on starting duties after Chubb’s injury – is in line to reprise his RB1 workload until Chubb is back in the fold. The Browns also have Nyheim Hines in place as a pass-catching and returner option. After missing all of 2023 due to an ACL tear, Hines is hopeful to be on the field in time for the start of training camp. Cleveland has other backs on the roster, and their fates will be determined over the course of the summer.

Specifically, D’Onta Foreman and Pierre Strong could find themselves competing for one roster spot. Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that Chubb’s health will be a key factor in determining how many running backs the Browns keep in the fold to begin the campaign. If the latter misses time in the fall, Foreman and Strong could survive roster cuts. If he is healthy by Week 1, however, keeping both in the fold (in addition to Ford and Hines) may not be feasible.

Strong was acquired via trade from the Patriots last summer, and he played sparingly on offense in Cleveland. The 2022 fourth-rounder logged a notable workload on special teams, though, and his third phase abilities could help him secure a spot. Foreman, on the other hand, has a longer track record of production in the backfield. The 28-year-old has played 52 games with four different teams, and his most productive campaign came in 2022 with the Panthers (914 rushing yards, five touchdowns).

Foreman signed a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum in March, and he is set to carry a cap hit of $1.15MM this season. That is slightly higher than Strong’s cap charge, and the latter is on the books through 2025. Releasing Foreman would create $818K in cap savings, although his track record could make him an attractive option to outside teams looking to add him via the waiver wire. Plenty is still to be determined separate from Chubb’s health, and Foreman and Strong’s showings this summer will be worth monitoring.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

Following 2023’s five-team coaching carousel, this offseason featured a quarter of the jobs becoming available. One HC-needy team (New England) did not put its position on the market, promoting Jerod Mayo, but the rest did. The Patriots’ decision also produced the first shakeup among the league’s longest-tenured head coach list since 2013.

Since the Eagles fired Andy Reid, Bill Belichick‘s Patriots HC stint had run the longest. After a 4-13 season, the six-time Super Bowl-winning leader was moved out of the picture. No team hired Belichick, generating a wave of rumors, and only one (Atlanta) brought him in for an official interview. While Belichick should be expected to take at least one more run at a third-chance HC gig, Mike Tomlin rises into the top spot on this list.

Tomlin is going into his 18th season with the Steelers, and while he has surpassed Bill Cowher for longevity, the steady leader still has a ways to go to reach Chuck Noll‘s 23-season Pittsburgh benchmark. Tomlin, 52, enters the 2024 season 17-for-17 in non-losing seasons, separating himself from his predecessors in that regard.

Belichick’s ouster brought far more attention, but his Patriots predecessor also slid out of the HC ranks after a 14-year Seattle stay. Pete Carroll‘s third HC shot elevated the Seahawks to their franchise peak. No Hawks HC comes close to Carroll’s duration, and while the Super Bowl winner was interested in remaining a head coach, no team interviewed the 72-year-old sideline staple.

Belichick and Carroll’s exits leave only Tomlin, John Harbaugh and Reid as coaches who have been in place at least 10 years. With Mike Vrabel also booted this offseason, only eight HCs have held their current jobs since the 2010s. A few 2017 hires, however, stand out; Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Sean McDermott have now each signed multiple extensions. Now riding back-to-back Super Bowl wins, Reid joined Tomlin in signing an offseason extension.

Here is how the 32 HC jobs look for the 2024 season:

  1. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2027
  2. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  3. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2029
  4. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2027
  5. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2027
  6. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2027
  7. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019: signed extension in July 2022
  8. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  9. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  10. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020; signed offseason extension
  11. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  12. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021; extended through 2027
  13. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  14. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  15. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  16. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  17. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  18. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  19. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  20. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022
  21. Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): January 31, 2023
  22. DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans): January 31, 2023
  23. Shane Steichen (Indianapolis Colts): February 14, 2023
  24. Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals): February 14, 2023
  25. Jerod Mayo (New England Patriots): January 12, 2024
  26. Antonio Pierce (Las Vegas Raiders): January 19, 2024
  27. Brian Callahan (Tennessee Titans): January 22, 2024
  28. Jim Harbaugh (Los Angeles Chargers): January 24, 2024
  29. Dave Canales (Carolina Panthers): January 25, 2024
  30. Raheem Morris (Atlanta Falcons): January 25, 2024
  31. Mike Macdonald (Seattle Seahawks): January 31, 2024
  32. Dan Quinn (Washington Commanders): February 1, 2024

Checking In On Unresolved WR Situations

Wide receiver rumors continue to dominate the NFL’s post-minicamp quiet period. The shift atop the receiver market this offseason has complicated matters for other teams, while multiple clubs are also dealing with players attached to upper-middle-class accords.

With training camps less than a month away, here is a look at where the unresolved wideout situations stand:

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers

This situation that has generated the most offseason rumors at the position; the 49ers-Aiyuk negotiations have dragged on for months. Progress has been scarce here, to the point Aiyuk requested a meeting to address his value and issues with the 49ers’ tactics during these talks. The Vikings’ Justin Jefferson extension has affected these conversations, with Aiyuk’s camp now seeking a full guarantee near the number ($88.7MM) the Minnesota superstar scored. AAV-wise, Aiyuk’s camp has been connected to pursuing a deal that matches or surpasses the $30.01MM number the Lions reached for Amon-Ra St. Brown. Aiyuk did not show for OTAs or minicamp.

Aiyuk, 26, is due a $14.12MM fifth-year option salary. His next step would be to hold out, risking $50K in per-day fines. The 49ers could waive them, as they did for Nick Bosa, since Aiyuk is on a rookie contract. That separates this situation from a few others here, and it is certainly possible the sides do not come together on a deal. Aiyuk not bringing down his guarantee request would run the risk of that happening.

While Aiyuk expects to be a 49er for a fifth season, the value gulf here — one partially created by the big-ticket deals other WRs have agreed to this offseason — threatens to prevent this situation from concluding smoothly like Deebo Samuel‘s did in 2022. The 49ers guaranteed Samuel $41MM at signing, illustrating how far the team and Aiyuk may be apart. Conversely, an agreement here — with the 49ers preparing for a Brock Purdy payday and having drafted Ricky Pearsall in Round 1 — would point to a 2025 Samuel trade. The 49ers discussed trades involving both their top wideouts, but John Lynch shut down those rumors post-draft.

Amari Cooper, Browns

The two-year Browns contributor joined Aiyuk in skipping minicamp, having seen his Cowboys-constructed contract fall in the pecking order (from second to 20th) due to the market booms of 2022 and 2024. Cooper signed a five-year deal, as the Cowboys prefer longer-term accords, in 2020 and missed out on cashing in as the market soared during the contract’s lifespan. Having played the lead role for a depleted Browns offense during an 11-6 2023 season, Cooper is aiming to score another payday ahead of his age-30 season.

Browns GM Andrew Berry identified Cooper as an extension candidate earlier this offseason, and Kevin Stefanski acknowledged talks have taken place. The Browns certainly had to assume they would be dealing with Cooper on the contract front once they gave trade pickup Jerry Jeudy a $41MM guarantee at signing (sixth among WRs). The ex-Bronco has yet to post a 1,000-yard season. Cooper has seven, though last season marked the older Alabama alum’s first 1,200-yard year.

With Deshaun Watson in Year 3 of a $230MM guaranteed extension, the Browns feature an unusual roster component. If Cooper were to hold out, the Browns would be unable to waive his $50K-per-day fines due to the 2015 first-rounder not being on a rookie contract.

As it stands, Cooper is tied to a $23.78MM cap number. Cleveland could reduce that with an extension, but Cooper’s age offers a slight complication. This does not appear an acrimonious dispute, and the sides are hoping for a pre-training camp resolution.

Tee Higgins, Bengals

This matter appears simpler, as Higgins has signed his $21.82MM franchise tender. Unlike Jessie Bates two years ago, Higgins is obligated to attend camp. The other eight players to receive a franchise or transition tag have signed extensions, each doing so several weeks ago. The Bengals have shown no indications they plan to extend their No. 2 wide receiver before the July 15 deadline, and while Higgins requested a trade, he has acknowledged he expects to remain in Cincinnati for the 2024 season. A trade could occur after the tag deadline, but the Bengals are highly unlikely — after resisting trade interest at the 2023 trade deadline — to move Higgins this year.

The Bengals and Higgins have discussed an extension for more than a year, and a modest offer — well south of $20MM per year — prompted the 6-foot-4 receiver to play out his fourth season. Gunning to dethrone the Chiefs and finish a mission they nearly accomplished in Super Bowl LVI, the Bengals tagged Higgins and are preparing to run back their standout receiver pair for a fourth year. If/once Higgins is tied to the tag this season, the sides cannot restart talks until January 2025. It is unclear if the Bengals would consider re-tagging Higgins next year, but the early word leans against this reality.

Joe Burrow‘s cap number spikes by $17MM between 2024 and 2025, moving past $46MM next year, and the Bengals have a receiver extension earmarked for Ja’Marr Chase. Though, Chase talks will be interesting after Jefferson’s guarantee figures surfaced.

Tyreek Hill, Dolphins

This is a rather unusual situation, but one that reminds of another Dolphins matter from recent years. Hill is tied to a four-year, $120MM extension; that deal runs through 2026. But the future Hall of Famer is already seeking a new contract. Teams rarely accommodate players with three years of team control remaining, due to the precedent it sets, but Hill has shown himself to be one of the top receivers of this era. He has delivered back-to-back first-team All-Pro offerings and has made a significant difference in Tua Tagovailoa‘s development. The Dolphins have not shut Hill down on this matter.

Hill, 30, is believed to have approached the Dolphins about an update before the St. Brown, Jefferson and A.J. Brown deals came to pass, but those contracts intensified the ninth-year veteran’s pursuit. Rather than a push for more guarantees on his current contract, Hill confirmed he is seeking a new deal. Teams are not big on giving back years to players, the Texans’ unusual move to lop three years off Stefon Diggs‘ contract notwithstanding, and agreeing on another extension — with customary guarantees — so soon would make for one of the more interesting decisions in this key chapter in WR history.

Dolphins GM Chris Grier has set a precedent on this front, giving in to Xavien Howard‘s demands for a new contract in 2022 despite being tied to a deal that covered three more seasons. The Dolphins have given Jaylen Waddle a big-ticket extension, one that is structured in a more player-friendly way than Hill’s backloaded $30MM-AAV pact. Signing deals that at the time broke the receiver AAV record, Hill and Davante Adams allowed their respective teams to insert phony final-year salaries — which almost definitely will not be paid out — to inflate the overall value.

No trade rumors have emerged here, as Hill wants to stay in Miami for his career’s remainder. Though, it will be interesting to see what comes out of these talks if the Dolphins decline Hill’s request this year. Hill is attached to a $31.23MM cap number.

CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys

The Vikings’ decision to authorize outlier guarantees for Jefferson probably affects the Cowboys most, as Lamb is also a 2020 first-round draftee who has shown himself to be one of the NFL’s best receivers. Lamb, 25, has been the centerpiece of the Cowboys’ passing attack since the team traded Amari Cooper — for salary purposes — in 2022. He is coming off a first-team All-Pro season — the first by a Dallas wideout since Dez Bryant in 2014 — and is tied to a $17.99MM fifth-year option figure. If Lamb does not land a new deal by training camp, he is prepared to follow Zack Martin‘s lead and hold out.

Dormant during the spring, Lamb extension talks are expected to pick up this summer. The Oklahoma alum’s interest in becoming the NFL’s highest-paid wideout veered toward shakier ground for the Cowboys following this offseason’s run of deals. The Cowboys not going through with a Lamb extension last year has certainly cost them, as Lamb’s camp has Jefferson’s guarantees to cite now. Dallas has not guaranteed a receiver more than $40MM at signing and typically holds the line on contracts spanning at least five years. Based on where the WR market has gone in terms of contract length, Lamb’s camp will likely make this a central issue in the sides’ negotiations.

Dallas not pushing this process past the goal line in 2023 has also created a situation in which Lamb and Dak Prescott are in contract years, a window that has opened just as Micah Parsons has become extension-eligible. The Cowboys are expected to first address their quarterback’s deal, which could be a tricky proposition due to Prescott’s tactics during his long-running extension talks earlier this decade, but a Lamb pact coming together by training camp is still in play. The Cowboys’ glut of extension candidates has created one of the more complicated contract situations in recent NFL history.

Courtland Sutton, Broncos

Checking in on a lower tier compared to the above-referenced receiver situations, Sutton continues to push for an update to his Denver deal. The Broncos have their top wide receiver attached to a four-year, $60MM extension that runs through 2025. Although just about every Broncos contract matter is overshadowed by the team’s Russell Wilson mistake, the team did well to lock down Sutton at what became a club-friendly rate during the 2021 season. After Sutton scored 10 touchdowns to help Wilson bounce back — to a degree, at least — in 2023, he has made an effort to secure better terms.

Sutton, 28, is believed to be angling for a raise from his $13MM 2024 base salary. The seventh-year target has been connected to seeking a bump to around $16MM. The Broncos did resolve a Chris Harris impasse by authorizing a raise, but the All-Decade CB was a better player who was in a contract year. Sutton reported to Denver’s minicamp but has not committed to showing up for training camp. Last month, the sides were at a stalemate. Tied to a $17.39MM cap number, Sutton would not be able to recoup any fines for a holdout due to being on a veteran contract.

Trade interest emerged during the draft, and the former second-round pick has regularly resided in departure rumors over the past two years. The Broncos cut the cord on fellow trade-rumor mainstay Jerry Jeudy, which stands to make Sutton more important as the team develops Bo Nix. Though, the Broncos have added a few wideouts on Sean Payton‘s watch. If younger players like Marvin Mims and fourth-round rookie Troy Franklin show promise, it is possible the Broncos revisit Sutton trade talks. Up until Week 1, only $2MM of Sutton’s base salary is guaranteed.

Browns Eyeing TE Depth?

The Browns could be on the lookout for tight end depth before the regular season. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com believes the Browns will keep an eye on tight ends who shake loose during the preseason, including both young options and veterans.

David Njoku will continue to lead the depth chart in 2024. Despite having to deal with Cleveland’s QB carousel last season, Njoku still finished the campaign with one of his strongest statistical seasons, collecting career-highs in receptions (81), receiving yards (882), and touchdowns (six). Njoku also led the position with seven drops, although Cabot attributes that stat to the team’s underwhelming QB play.

The team is also set to return backup Jordan Akins, who will be entering the final season of the two-year pact he inked in 2023. The former Texans third-round pick got into all 17 games during his first season in Cleveland, although he finished the campaign with career-low marks in receptions (15) and receiving yards (132). His familiarity with Deshaun Watson is a plus, but his 2023 performance means he isn’t entirely guaranteed to make the roster.

The team lacks experienced depth behind that duo. As Cabot notes, Kevin Stefanski and Ken Dorsey will still rely a bit on multiple tight-end sets, meaning the team could be eyeing an upgrade over the likes of Giovanni Ricci, Zaire Mitchell-Paden, Treyton Welch, and even Akins. Jimmy Graham and Geoff Swaim lead the remaining crop of free agents, but a number of tight ends will surely join that duo before the end of the summer.

Extension Candidate: Browns LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Thanks in part to injuries, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah didn’t necessarily live up to his second-round billing through his first two seasons in the NFL. However, the linebacker stepped up in a big way during the 2023 campaign, and that performance could earn him an extension with the Browns in the coming months.

As Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com notes, “JOK” has emerged as an extension candidate for the organization. The reporter believes the Browns front office would prefer to lock up Owusu-Koramoah as soon as possible, either before the regular season or part way through the campaign. That way, the organization can assure the impending free agent is clear of any distractions in the follow-up to his breakout season.

After being selected with the 52nd pick in the 2021 draft, Owusu-Koramoah proceeded to earn All-Rookie team honors after finishing with 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. He missed a chunk of that season with an ankle injury, but Pro Football Focus still graded him as a top-10 player at his position. The linebacker took a slight step back during his sophomore campaign. He missed six more games thanks to a foot injury, and he finished the year ranked only 38th at his position.

Fortunately for the player and the organization, Owusu-Koramoah took a significant leap this past season. The 24-year-old finished the campaign with 101 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions, earning him his first career Pro Bowl nod. Pro Football Focus ranked him 18th among 82 qualifying linebackers, including the second-best pass-rushing score at his position.

There’s a chance Owusu-Koramoah could solidify himself as a definitive top-10 linebacker with a strong performance in 2024. That would come at the perfect time for the fourth-year player, as he’s set to hit free agency following the season. JOK doesn’t have the track record to match the $18MM average annual value mark that’s been surpassed by Roquan Smith, Fred Warner, and Tremaine Edmunds, but he could still be in line for a lucrative pay day.

Patrick Queen leaped into the top-five AAV at the position this offseason following a strong year in Baltimore. The former first-round pick got a three-year, $41MM deal from the Steelers, good for a $13.6MM AAV. The LB franchise tag for 2025 is projected to be north of $25MM, so Owusu-Koramoah does have some leverage if the Browns truly intend to keep him long-term. The linebacker is set to earn around $2MM on the final year of his rookie contract in 2024.

The Browns also haven’t done a whole lot to add depth at the weakside linebacker spot, with former UDFAs Mohamoud Diabate and Charlie Thomas serving as JOK’s primary backups. Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki both departed this offseason, meaning the Browns will be even more reliant on Owusu-Koramoah’s experience in the linebackers room next year.

For what it’s worth, Owusu-Koramoah said he’s not overly focused on his contract status, noting that “there’s a time and place for everything” (per Zac Jackson of The Athletic). More notably, the linebacker declared that he’s “all about ball,” which is surely the type of mentality the front office is seeking from the hopeful defensive stalwart.

Browns GM Andrew Berry: Deshaun Watson “Ahead Of Schedule” In Recovery

As the Browns aim to have a healthy Deshaun Watson available for the entire 2024 campaign, a key aspect of the team’s offseason will be his rehab from a fractured shoulder socket. Developments on that front have been encouraging so far.

Watson threw every other day during OTAs, with the Browns understandably taking a cautious approach early in the spring. His workload increased over time, though, and he impressed during minicamp. As a result, the 28-year-old is on track to practice without restrictions in training camp.

“First and foremost, Deshaun has really worked his tail off during the rehabilitation process over the last several months,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said during an appearance on NFL Network’s The Insiders“He’s really actually ahead of schedule… He’s thrown the ball well. Did a really nice job during our 7-on-7 and team periods during this veteran minicamp.

“He’s making excellent progress. Honestly if you didn’t know he got hurt last year, you really wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. We’re very excited once camp starts.”

The lingering shoulder issue affected Watson’s second Cleveland campaign, one in which he was slated to take part in the full season after the suspension which sidelined him for 11 contests in 2022. The Browns ultimately won 11 games while using five different starting quarterbacks last year, but having the former Texan in place for a full slate would be critical for team and player. Watson is entering the third year of his $230MM fully guaranteed pact signed upon arrival in Cleveland.

To date, the team has not received the expected results from the decision to trade for and sign Watson. The three-time Pro Bowler is set to carry cap hits above $63MM in each of the next three seasons (unless another restructure is worked out in the coming weeks), which will add to his importance on offense moving forward. Especially with running back Nick Chubb likely to miss time at the start of the season, increased emphasis will be placed on Cleveland’s passing game. If Watson is back to 100% by the fall, he will be positioned to make another run at a healthy season and serve as the focal point of the team’s attack.