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NFL Cleveland Browns

5 Free Agent Rumors Surrounding the Cleveland Browns

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5 Free Agent Rumors Surrounding the Cleveland Browns

Free Agent Rumors Cleveland Browns
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We are nearing the beginning of the free agency process in the NFL. Teams can now either franchise or transition tag their players. Some teams have not wasted any time in doing that already. The Cleveland Browns have transition tagged Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, which means that T.J. Ward will likely be released to test the free agent market. The Pittsburgh Steelers also utilized their transition tag on linebacker Jason Worilds.

The franchise tag was used but not on as many players as people thought. The New Orleans Saints tagged Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham. Greg Hardy and Nick Folk were the two others who got franchise tagged. In all, it was not a busy day. This is due to the NFL setting the salary cap to $133 million for 2014. Some teams can now afford to negotiate with their guys rather than going through the tagging process. After the Super Bowl, numerous rumors go out about positions of need for teams. The Browns were one of the first ones mentioned.

Ward testing free agency, and along with the release of D’Qwell Jackson that leaves two voids for them. One player being linked to the Browns is safety Jarius Byrd. He played under new coach Mike Pettine last year with the Buffalo Bills, so those ties could possibly sway his decision to play for the Browns. However, there have been other players that the Browns have been linked too. Here are five free agents that the Browns are rumored to be interested in pursuing.

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5. Sam Shields

Sam Shields
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Shields has been rumored to the Browns since he decided to test the free agent market last week. They have needed another cornerback to go alongside Joe Haden for years. Buster Skrine and Leon McFadden have failed to produce with enough consistency as the second defensive back. Shields had a career year with 51 tackles and four interceptions in 2013. He has great covering skills and is a ball hawk. He would fit in perfectly with the Browns and would finally give them the duo at cornerback they have needed since 1999.

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4. Jarius Byrd

Jarius Byrd
Justin K. Aller-Getty Images

Jarius Byrd has been rumored to the Browns since Mike Pettine got the head coaching job. Byrd and Pettine have a great player/coach relationship with each other, and it could lead to a decision by him to join the Browns. T.J. Ward is likely going to be a free agent and he could fill the void. He’s a free safety which means Tashon Gipson would either be released or converted to a strong safety. He is one of the best at playing the ball and is known for his smart play. He made his third Pro Bowl this year.

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3. Ben Tate

Ben Tate
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Tate was on the radar of the Browns before the season ended. The trade of Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts left a major void at the halfback position for the Browns. Willis McGahee, Fozzy Whittaker,Chris Ogbonnaya and Edwin Baker were all the backs who played for them, but the only back to produce was Baker. Tate would bring his speed and power to the team along with his ability to catch the ball. He had a career-high 34 receptions last season. He would have a chance to finally shine and show his skills on the Browns.

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2. Eric Decker

Eric Decker
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Decker is already being highly coveted by the Indianapolis Colts. His other option could possibly include the Browns. Josh Gordon proved that he is one of the best receivers in the league last season. However, every top receiver needs a complementary one to go with them. Decker would fit right in. He is not only a deep threat, but he can also be used as a possession receiver. He would be a major upgrade over Greg Little and Davone Bess. He had a career year in receptions with 87 and his second best year in touchdowns with 11.

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1. Brandon Spikes

Brandon Spikes
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Spikes would be a shot in the dark for the Browns. They have to overpay for talent to come to the team, and Spikes wouldn’t break that trend anytime soon. However, Mike Pettine likes the bigger linebackers. A lot of general managers think Spikes has not fully reached his potential. They believe he is in the wrong system with the New England Patriots. Pettine runs a hybrid defense which gives the inside/middle linebacker more free reign than what he had in New England. Spikes would immediately fill the void left by the release of D’Qwell Jackson.