Now A Brown, Former Chiefs Safety Juan Thornhill Thinks Cleveland Has ‘All The Pieces’ For Super Bowl Run

Safety John Johnson III was one of the Cleveland Browns’ prized free agent additions a couple years ago, back when they envisioned a top secondary in the NFL paired with cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. Williams just left in free agency and the Browns dumped Johnson, replacing him with Juan Thornhill from the Kansas City Chiefs.

And fresh off of a Super Bowl victory, Thornhill believes he can win another in his new surroundings. “All of the pieces are here” for a title run, he recently said after signing a free agent contract, via the Brown’s website. The Browns have one postseason win in the past nearly three decades.

“They’ve got a really good quarterback, receivers, the defense is super strong”, he added. “I feel like all of the pieces are here and we have that capability of getting there and making a splash in the playoffs and making it to the Super Bowl”.

The quarterback in question is Deshaun Watson, who has caused controversy both on and off the field, the latter being far more serious in ways that should be too obvious to need articulating. On the field, his contract has been a source of consternation around the NFL—particularly in Baltimore.

Acquired via trade in exchange for three first-round picks along with additional draft compensation, Watson agreed to waive his no-trade clause to sign with the Browns only after they stepped up to the plate and were willing to fully guarantee the entirety of a five-year, $230 million contract, knowing full well that he likely was going to serve a suspension for most of that first season.

He ended up serving an 11-game suspension, finishing the year with a 3-3 record with seven touchdowns to five interceptions. He had already sat out the entire 2021 season while angling for a trade away from the Houston Texans.

While Cleveland does have Amari Cooper at wide receiver, one would think that the Browns’ best-known skill player is running back Nick Chubb, a perennial Pro Bowler who is the heart and soul of their offense. He accounted for over 1,700 yards from scrimmage with 13 touchdowns in 2022.

The Browns went 7-10 last season. How much better can Watson, with some playing time under his belt and a complete offseason, help the Browns be? Assuming Watson plays to roughly his previous level, is Cleveland suddenly a Super Bowl team—even though the Texans never were with him?

Not likely; indeed, it will be a struggle for them to get out of the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals two-time reigning divisional champions. If the Ravens retain Lamar Jackson and they can stay healthy, they will be a deadly threat as well. And the Pittsburgh Steelers are beginning to build something. If Kenny Pickett works out, Cleveland could find itself at the bottom of one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Or if Thornhill is right, at the top of it.

But I wouldn’t bet money on it.

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