Thursday, February 7, 2013
First look at free agency: Cleveland Browns
By Jamison Hensley
Here's what the Cleveland Browns should do with their prime free agents. The NFL free-agency period begins March 12.
K Phil Dawson.
It should be a priority to keep Dawson. He made 29 of 31 field goals (93.5 percent) in 2012, including seven kicks beyond 50 yards. Whether Dawson wants to come back is another matter. The old regime put the franchise tag on Dawson for the past two seasons, which didn't exactly endear him to the franchise. His family is in Texas, so he might want to play closer to home. The tag is not an option this year, because it would cost about $14 million to do it a third time. Even Dawson isn't worth that amount.
SHOULD LET WALK
TE Ben Watson, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, CB Sheldon Brown, DE Juqua Parker, LB Kaluka Maiava, LB Scott Fujita, P Reggie Hodges and RB Brandon Jackson.
I wouldn't be opposed to bring back the likes of Watson, Brown, Parker or Maiava. But, considering the large amount of salary-cap room, the Browns should be able to do better. In Watson's case, he 's 32 and it's time to see if Jordan Cameron can step up. The same goes for Brown, who will turn 34 next month. He played much better last season than 2011, but the Browns can upgrade with a free agent like Brent Grimes, who could be had for a bargain after being injured last season. With Massaquoi, it's time for the Browns to move on after four underachieving seasons. Hodges, the Browns' punter in 2010 and 2012, was among the worst in the league last season.
WR-KR Josh Cribbs. He doesn't bring anything to the offense, but he still can make an impact as a returner. He ranked sixth on punt returns and fourth in kickoff returns. But the Browns have a cheaper alternative in Travis Benjamin, a fourth-round pick in 2012. In December, Benjamin recorded the longest punt return in Browns history when he ran one back 93 yards for a touchdown. The Browns might see Benjamin as a better value than Cribbs.