The Cleveland Browns had yet another underwhelming, lost season as they went 6-10. The season led to massive changes within the organization including at head coach and general manager. The Browns addressed their coaching position with the hiring of Kevin Stefanski, but there are a lot of things left to do this offseason. Over the next few weeks, I will examine each position’s to-do list this offseason. Up next is the wide receiver position.
This was one of the more head-scratching units for the Browns last season. Coming into the season, it was hyped as one of the more talented receivers groups in the entire NFL. The position, though, fell well short of these expectations. The only player that exceeded my expectations and played really well last season was Jarvis Landry. Landry was the most consistent receiver for the Browns and made plays for the offense throughout the year. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered an early-season injury that completed derailed Beckham’s first season with the Browns. He simply did not look like his normal self at all this season. Even though injured, he was not that bad like some have made him out to have played. He just did not reach the high expectations we had for him. Beyond these two, the whole unit collapsed. The biggest conundrum was Rashard Higgins, who came into the season with really high expectations but ended up having just a whisper of a season. Antonio Callaway made just a few games before he was jettisoned off the team due to more off-field problems and poor on-field production. Damion Ratley showed flashes at times, but for the most part, he was often missing in action. And, KhaDarel Hodge was a special teams player who received far too much action. In the end, this position underwhelmed last season.
1. DON’T THINK ABOUT TRADING OBJ
Don’t even think about it. As I wrote towards the end of the season, it is not time to move from Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham had a below-average season for him, but his production was still solid. This production came in the midst of an injury that clearly hampered his abilities for the entire season and an offensive scheme that did absolutely nothing to accentuates the talents of the players on the offense. To give up on Beckham amidst these circumstances would be foolish. Not to mention given his lower production, the Browns would be selling low. Beyond that fact, I believe the Browns should not give up on a player of his talents that easily or quickly.
2. Get healthy
This is huge. The Browns wide receivers unit was riddled with injuries throughout the season. Obviously, the most important injury was Beckham’s. His production was greatly hampered by it and his lower production affected the rest of the unit. Even Landry suffered from a nagging injury last year. Ratley and Higgins also both dealt with injuries last season. This unit needs to get healthy, especially Landry and Beckham. The unit needs these two fully healthy come next season.
3. Create cohesion between Baker, Jarvis, and OBJ
The Browns passing game never got in sync last season. This problem had numerous contributing factors like poor offensive line play, bad play-calling, and a struggling young quarterback. The cohesion between Baker Mayfield and both his receivers Landry and Beckham never seemed to be there last season. Mayfield was somewhat comfortable with Landry, but with Beckham, the two never seemed to get on the same page. So, this offseason, these three players need to practice and train together this offseason. They cannot go another offseason and preseason where the three barely see the field at the same time. These three are the key to the Browns passing game. They must get on the same page.
4. Find a third receiver
The Browns need to find a third receiver, who can contribute on a consistent basis next season. Cleveland can go through numerous avenues to find this receiver. In my opinion, the best avenue to find a quality receiver to fill this role is the draft. The 2020 NFL Draft is pretty deep at receiver, meaning the Browns can spend a mid-round pick and possibly find a player, who can step right in and be this receiver for the team. However, given the strength of the receiver position in the draft, the Browns may be able to get a receiver in free agency below market value. Guys like Phillip Dorsett, Nelson Agholor or Demarcus Robinson could be cheaper options on the market.
5. Learn the new offense
The final thing on the to-do list for the receivers unit is for the receivers to learn the new offensive system under Kevin Stefanski. They will need to learn new verbiage. But, they also will be asked to do different things for the offense. The receivers need to familiarize themselves with the system and be able to run it better than it did last season. Countless times we saw receivers run the wrong route and that simply cannot happen this coming season. The Browns must get the receivers moving in the same direction as the rest of the offense.