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NFL Cleveland Browns

5 Storylines Leading Into Free Agency For Cleveland Browns

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5 Storylines Leading Into Free Agency For Cleveland Browns

5 Storylines Leading Into Free Agency For Cleveland Browns
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL free agency period begins next week on March 11th. 32 teams will be scrambling around to either re-sign their players, or release them and find a replacement through free agency and the draft. This year’s free agent market doesn’t feature many big names, however, it has many solid contributors that can help a team immediately. Eric Decker of the Denver Broncos is a potential free agent. Jarius Byrd of the Buffalo Bills is having issues reaching any sort of agreement on a new contract, which will likely make him declare for free agency. One of the biggest names is possibly Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson.

Since his 2,006 rushing yard season in 2009, he has been injury-prone and unmotivated. However, in the right situation he could thrive and repair a career that has been broken. The Cleveland Browns were broken all last season. During the last week of the season, new Indianapolis Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski was fired.

That would be the first event that lead to tailspin in the offseason. The firing of Joe Banner and Mike Lombardi, the promotion of Ray Farmer, and just last week the release of veteran linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. Most Browns fans are wondering what could possibly happen next. The Browns are second in cap space this year with $55.2 million. They have a lot of different ways they can go. These are some of the important storylines leading up to the Browns free agency period next week:

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5. Will They Re-sign Center Alex Mack?

Will They Re-sign Center Alex Mack?
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Allegedly, “priority number one” for the Cleveland Browns is to re-sign Alex Mack. However, there has been no talk of negotiations. They can franchise tag him tomorrow on March 3rd if no deal is reached. Mack is a two-time Pro Bowler and is one of the most important pieces on the Browns roster. Most coaches stress how hard it is to find a good center that has chemistry with their quarterback. It would be detrimental and another step back if the Browns cannot keep Mack in the brown and orange for a long time.

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4. Do the Browns Believe That Brian Hoyer Is The Guy?

Do the Browns Believe That Brian Hoyer Is The Guy?
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL draft is in two months and the talk has been all about quarterbacks. Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Derek Carr are just a few of them. The Browns have the number four overall pick in this year’s draft. It is alleged that they aren’t going to take a quarterback at this spot. However, there is uncertainty regarding the organization having belief in Brian Hoyer. Hoyer won three straight games for the Browns before tearing his ACL against the Buffalo Bills. With Mike Pettine as the new head coach and a new general manager in Ray Farmer, it could mean changes.

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3. What Is The Plan On Replacing D'Qwell Jackson?

What Is The Plan On Replacing D'Qwell Jackson?
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

D’Qwell Jackson was the heart and soul of the Cleveland Browns. He was released last week. This was one of the first major roster moves by new General Manager Ray Farmer. Some Browns fans think it was one of the worst moves ever made. However, statistically, Jackson is an average linebacker at best. His release has left a huge void at inside/middle linebacker. Craig Robertson, Darius Eubanks and Tank Carder are the current replacements. There are not many impactful free-agent inside/middle linebackers available, so the Browns could likely address the situation through the draft or by trade.

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2. Will Jarius Byrd Consider The Browns Now That Mike Pettine Is Coach?

Will Jarius Byrd Consider The Browns Now That Mike Pettine Is Coach?
Justin K. Aller-Getty Images

It seems like Jarius Byrd has been trying to get a new contract with the Buffalo Bills for two years now. It just isn’t meant to be. Byrd is going to test the free-agent market on March 11th. He already has numerous teams wanting to sign him. The Browns are a strong possibility. Byrd played under Mike Pettine for the year he was there, and made the Pro Bowl for the third time. Byrd and Pettine have a great relationship among each other and it could sway him to the Browns. He had 37 tackles and 4 interceptions in 11 games.

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1. Will They Re-Sign Safety T.J. Ward?

Will They Re-Sign Safety T.J. Ward?
Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Ward is a free agent this season along with Alex Mack. He is the second “priority” for the Browns. He had his second-best career year with 112 combined tackles and 1 interception returned for a touchdown. It earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. In previous years he struggled immensely and looked like the worst safety in the NFL. He gets beat on deep routes and misses numerous tackles during games. He is also known to take plays off, and it impacts the game negatively. Ward will likely test the free agent market, especially with no talk of a franchise tag.