Browns, Headlines

Browns continue to commit to O-Line by inking Kevin Zeitler

Kevin Zeitler Cleveland Browns

In the event extending Joel Bitonio and singing J.C. Tretter was not enough to quench your offensive line thirst, the Cleveland Browns just rolled a giant truck of money into the home of guard Kevin Zeitler, signing him to a five-year deal worth a reported $60 million with a mammoth $31.5 million guaranteed. In doing so, the Browns not only added one of (if not the best) offensive linemen in free agency, but pilfered one of the best linemen in the AFC North by snatching Zeitler from the Cincinnati Bengals.

For those who don’t know much about Zeitler, know that he’s 26 years old, 6-foot-4-inches, 320 pounds, is a stellar blocker, and has familiarity with Hue Jackson’s system due to their collective time in Cincinnnati. Pro Football Focus has never graded him below a 78.7, ranking him sixth among 62 qualifying guards in 2016 in pass blocking (while the Browns’ two starters ranked 39th and 54th). Given the Browns’ needs—Browns QBs were sacked a league-high 68 times in 2016—and Zeitler’s skill set, there’s little surprise that this was named the team’s “dream” signing heading into free agency. They had to compete with the New Orleans Saints (who are looking for a replacement for long-time guard Jahri Evans) at the end, but the Browns also had to contend with the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars to acquire Zeitler’s services.

It’s fair to continue to criticize this team for not working something out with Terrelle Pryor. Kenny Britt is eyebrow raising. There are also a ton of holes on the defensive side. But at the end of the day, Zeitler becomes the highest-paid guard in the entire NFL and the team is finally showing commitment to fielding an impressive, talented roster. Lest you think the rest of the Browns aren’t paying attention to these moves, you’ll want to scope out the reaction from running back Duke Johnson Jr.

Whether it was the front office overcompensating for the lack of attention paid to the line last offseason, Joe Thomas’ thoughts on how analytics value the unit, or a confluence of things (including the team’s sack total), it’s clear the front office had a vision about using their salary cap space to address giant weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball, starting from the inside out. Whomever the Browns decide to put under center for 2017 will have little in the way of excuses, but he will also have the ability to leverage a well-compensated, highly-skilled unit that will allow the game to not only slow down, but will allow for Hue Jackson to do a ton of play-calling with pulling guards and down-field blocking.

If last offseason’s free agency period made the Browns a punching bag, this one has slowly morphed them into one that hits back.

  • maxfnmloans

    IM SO HAPPY I FORGOT TO PUT ON PANTS

    Also, now the Bengals have lost Zeitler and Whitworth. Good luck with that

  • RGB

    I can only assume these signings remove Bolles, Ramczyk, and Robinson off of our draft lists.

  • scripty
  • scripty

    I love staggering out the draft picks to 2018.

  • I presume it will be a QB and nearly every other draft pick used on a defensive player. I have to imagine it stings losing Jefferson to the Ravens.

  • CBiscuit

    “It’s fair to continue to criticize this team for not working something out with Terrelle Pryor.”

    Lol. Too much, Scott.

  • RGB

    We just acquired Osweiler. Snicker…

  • Saggy

    WYLD STALLYNS!!!

  • Saggy

    AWESOME MOVE!!

  • Garry_Owen

    Honestly, what they’re doing with Pryor makes absolute sense to me. I don’t see any room whatsoever for criticism at this point. Let’s see how it plays out.

  • NankirPhelge

    Myles, you can start looking for that house in Strongsville!

  • NankirPhelge

    But it means we’re getting Myles. Rejoice!

  • Garry_Owen

    Something about this Osweiler thing strikes me as pure Sashimetrics. I don’t think he’s intended to be the starting QB. The HBT has something up their sleeve (besides massive amounts of cash). I wouldn’t doubt that they plan to draft a QB – it has just better be at 12 or lower.

  • Garry_Owen

    Aaaaannnndddd . . . I just saw your response to me on the other thread. Great minds . . .

  • nj0
  • CBI

    With less sacks and more opportunity to throw the ball, I predict a lot more interceptions.

  • nj0

    Schefter’s original report says the rumors are the Browns will try to trade him. Others are saying cut him outright. Nobody wants him at his current price, but I’m guessing somebody would give a late pick for him if we ate part of his salary.

    But yeah, this looks to me like NBA trades come to the NFL. Teams with cap room taking on bad deals in exchange for draft picks. I know the Browns are getting a lot of grief over this trade, but personally I think it’s genius.

  • Garry_Owen

    I don’t want to speak to soon, but maybe . . . the smartest guys in the room really are the smartest guys in the room.

  • RGB

    Nobody ever accused Sashi of being a bad wheeler dealer.
    It’s that whole draft-talent-evaluation thing that remains in question.

  • RGB

    As long as our resident serial-trader is running things, I’m not holding my breath.

  • CBiscuit

    Agree. We’ll see. But so far, pretty measured and well-executed: re-signing Bitonio, signing a Center, signing a stud Right Guard, signing a veteran WR, taking on a salary dump to compile a high pick.

    So besides the above–and having zero idea if Pryor even WANTS to return here or likes other suitors better, what his perceived value/demand is, and whether or not discussions are ongoing–criticism of the Browns at this time is fair.

  • WFNY_DP

    I can only assume their fans are collectively saying, “I CAN’T BELIEVE WE LET THOSE GUYS WALK FOR NOTHING.”

  • Chris

    And will have to face Garrett twice a year!

  • Garry_Owen

    Considering that all of their Columbus-area fans were once Browns fans (and are now, strangely, again), you KNOW this is what they’re saying.

  • nj0

    Reportedly visiting the Redskins. Out of the frying pan, Pryor.

  • maxfnmloans

    and Shelton and Ogbah and Nassib and Orchard

  • maxfnmloans

    Most Columbus NFL fans are Steeler fans now, mainly because the Steelers draft a lot of Buckeyes. As a Michigan/Browns fan I was acutely aware of all the Buckeye/Steeler fans

  • Garry_Owen

    Can’t we just go with the joke? I worked super hard on it.

  • nj0

    I know. It’s crazy. Worst case, we end up with an extraordinarily overpaid backup who is just one year removed from being in high demand.

  • maxfnmloans

    refresh your page

  • Garry_Owen

    He was Grapabapaplo before it was cool.

  • scripty

    He got a 6th round pick for Gilbert and some pick for Mingo. He got some skillz.

  • scripty
  • Garry_Owen
  • maxfnmloans

    Im welling up with hope today that he can be a serviceable depth/situational guy

  • Chris

    ***Carefully looks around… sees Bode occupied with Osweiller news… OK, all clear! ***

    Good, now they can trade JT and move the ever-versatile Care Bear to left tackle.

  • scripty

    This is how you fake tweet. Love it Adarn
    https://twitter.com/AdarnSchefter/status/839946635002118144

  • Saggy
  • Chris

    I present my nomination for “Featured Post”!!

  • Saggy

    they’re not in the room with us, so why not?

  • Chris

    Those are perfectly in-sync on my browser. Creepy.

  • scripty

    upvoting bc this gif so fine

  • Saggy

    not on mine – and it’s maddening!

  • maxfnmloans

    Shelton will be one of the best 7 NT in the league this year. Provided we keep Paea

  • woofersus

    I don’t know if I think that’s the case. They could be prepared to lean heavily on the run game and let Kessler have it for a year. I’m sure they’ll take a flyer on some QB this year, but I have trouble seeing them draft one at 1 or 12.

  • CBiscuit

    I like Pryor, but let’s just say…he’s never made the best career choices. Signing with Washington wouldn’t surprise me. Then again, maybe he circles back to us?

  • JM85

    The Browns are wheeling and dealing today.

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  • Garry_Owen

    Did you just repeat my conspiracy theory from last season? Very impressed, and much obliged.