The Cleveland Browns entered the 2018 regular season crossing their fingers that veteran Josh Gordon could be their deep threat at the wide receiver position if he could just manage to stop sabotaging his career through substance use. It wasn’t long before they traded him, but the team still managed to find a former high-pedigreed wide receiver to run go routes for them.
That was former Baltimore Ravens first-round draft pick Breshad Perriman, whom the team chose not to keep with the final roster cuts in 2018. After signing three new top wide receivers during the free agency period in John Brown, Michael Crabtree, and Willie Snead, plus drafting a couple of others and retaining Chris Moore, Perriman ended up the odd man out.
Then he eventually found his way to Cleveland, where he was used very sparingly at first but gradually picked up some playing time as he found success on the field. He only caught 16 passes on the season but they produced 340 yards and two touchdowns, the majority of which came late in the year.
He showed enough in working well with rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield that the Browns are talking about working out an extension with him prior to the start of free agency, according to General Manager John Dorsey.
In addition to Rashard Higgins, the Browns are looking to retain some continuity at the wide receiver position from last season for Mayfield. In addition to Jarvis Landry and 2018 draft pick Antonio Callaway as the top two targets, Perriman and Higgins played increasingly important roles as the season progressed. Both of them are due to free agents and the Browns are trying to keep them.
“We’ve had conversations”, he said, with their agents, “and we’ll continue to have conversations. However, the new coaching staff coming in will have its input as well on both sides of the ball, so things could take longer than they might have otherwise given the extensive changes that have already taken place at that level.
“Once we get the chance to get the new coaching staff in place and we have an assessment of our team and the positions, then I’ll be able to better answer that question”, he said about the prospect of retaining their division rival’s former number one draft pick.
Regardless of what moves they might make here, however, it’s hard to imagine them not addressing the wide receiver position in a fairly substantial way this offseason, whether it comes through free agency or the draft. I wouldn’t consider even Landry a great number one receiver, even if he made the Pro Bowl this year as a second alternate.