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Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Browns position outlook: Running back

By Pat McManamon

RUNNING BACK

2014 Free agents: Willis McGahee.

The good: There is a lot of salary cap room and an opportunity for a back to contribute. The Browns have no running back, unless they believe Edwin Baker’s last three games make him the next Adrian Peterson. Joe Banner touted Dion Lewis as one of the “excellent additions” who were injured, but Lewis has to prove he can play and contribute for a full season and he’s not a training camp player.

The bad: There is no running back, and hasn’t been since the trade of Trent Richardson, who went from 950 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie to the junk heap and nearly unusable in Indianapolis. The Richardson trade garnered the Browns a first-round pick, which is good, but the Browns may have to use a high pick or some of their salary cap space to add a credible back.

The money: Not an issue here. Chris Ogbonnaya, Dion Lewis, Fozzy Whittaker and Baker all make less than $750,000 under the salary cap.

Draft priority: High. Though the Browns clearly seem to be one of the teams in the new age that does not believe in drafting a running back in the first or second round. If the Browns took a back in the first round, it would mean they gave up a former first-round back to draft another first-round back. Logic says the team should think of one in the second or third round, but that does not seem to be the Browns approach.

Previous positions: Quarterback.