The Cleveland Browns are flush with money to spend, but that is nothing new over the course of the past few seasons. The difference this year, though, is that new CEO Joe Banner is running the show and the Browns seem much more inclined to at least spend a little bit of money.
For a team that went 5-11 in 2012 (and has lost double-digit games for nine of the past ten seasons), there are plenty of holes to fill, but a major defensive shift and a revamped offense that emphasizes a vertical passing game brings greater urgency to a few key positions.
The Biggest Needs:
Linebacker/Defensive End: With the switch to a 3-4 defensive front, the Browns are in desperate need of some linebackers and defensive ends. It seems likely that they will draft either one with the sixth overall pick, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t stay active in the hunt for more depth through free agency. The Ravens’ Paul Kruger has often been linked to the Browns, and he would certainly fit in well with the revamped defense.
Wide Receiver: The Browns are also said to be in the market for another wide receiver. Even with the emergence of Josh Gordon and the development of Greg Little, the Browns could use a veteran presence at the position, which is why names like Steve Breaston (who already visited Cleveland) and Mike Wallace continue to be brought up.
Cornerback: There is no doubt that Joe Haden is quickly becoming one of the league’s best corners, but the Browns have serious problems on the other side of the field. It became even more apparent when Haden was out for five games last season, as the Browns were routinely torched by opposing quarterbacks. Finding another starting cornerback this offseason is essential as the front seven undergoes a more drastic shift.
The Browns may own a top 10 pick, but they are currently sitting without a second-round selection. They will likely try to move up, but their draft situation should force them to dip into free agency more than they have in recent seasons, especially on defense.