As we continue to explore the comings and goings of the free agent market throughout the AFC North beyond the scope of the Pittsburgh Steelers, arguably one of the bigger transitions that we have seen within the division, perhaps outside of the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive line so far, may be the secondary of the Cleveland Browns.
Already through free agency, Cleveland has added three defensive backs who are expected to play a meaningful role in 2020, starting with safety Karl Joseph, a player that was on the radar for Steelers fans in terms of depth at the position. They also added another safety in Andrew Sendejo. The two will sort out playing time with 2019 rookie Sheldrick Redwine.
The Browns’ two starting safeties at the beginning of the year in 2019 were Damarious Randall and Morgan Burnett. They released Burnett earlier this offseason, and it does not appear as though they have intentions of re-signing Randall, who is currently an unrestricted free agent.
While they have their two starting cornerbacks in Denzel Ward—a Pro Bowler as a rookie in 2018—and Greedy Williams, the addition via free agency of Kevin Johnson gives them their versatile nickel defender who can be moved around the field as needed.
The Browns have made more than half a dozen signings of outside free agents already so far during this free agency cycle, with the emphasis in numbers being on the defense, though the biggest signings have come on the offensive side of the ball with the addition of new right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Austin Hooper.
In addition to the three players in the secondary named above, they have also added defensive tackle Andrew Billings to the mix upfront, and after losing Joe Schobert and releasing Christian Kirksey, added B.J. Goodson to pair with a duo of rookies from 2019, including Mack Wilson.
The Browns have, of course, undergone a lot of changes outside of their 90-man roster since last season, including just about everything short of the ownership. Freddie Kitchens was fired as head coach after just one year, replaced by Kevin Stefanski, while they mutually parted ways with Jon Dorsey as general manager, bringing back Andrew Berry for the position.
Cleveland was the favorite to win the AFC North according to the betting lines entering last season with the improvements on paper they made last offseason, and coming off a 7-9-1 year that saw them finish the previous season on a 5-2 run. They ended up going 6-10.