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Examining the Cleveland Browns' 2023 free agents

The Cleveland Browns enter the 2023 offseason with several key players slated to become free agents.

CLEVELAND — With their 2022 season in the books, the Cleveland Browns' attention now shifts toward the upcoming offseason. That will include evaluating several players who were on the team's roster last season, but are now slated to hit free agency.

From key contributors to players who helped fill out the roster and everything in between, Browns general manager Andrew Berry will have plenty of decisions to make in the weeks ahead. With that in mind, let's take a look at Cleveland's impending free agents for the 2023 offseason.

List of players provided by OverTheCap.com

Key contributors

  • DE Jadeveon Clowney
  • RB Kareem Hunt
  • LB Anthony Walker Jr.
  • C Ethan Pocic
  • LB Sione Takitaki
  • LB Deion Jones
  • DL Taven Bryan

Of the Browns' impending free agents, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and running back Kareem Hunt stand out as the biggest names. 

After telling Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot that he was 95 percent sure he wouldn't be returning -- in addition to criticizing the way he was used throughout the 2022 season before being made inactive for the regular-season finale -- Clowney's departure appears to be a mere formality. As a result, the Browns will likely be looking for a new running mate to pair opposite Myles Garrett in the offseason ahead.

As for Hunt, it also seems unlikely that Cleveland will be able to re-sign the former Pro Bowl selection, who had requested a trade prior to the 2022 campaign. While Hunt had made up one-half of the league's most-talented rushing tandem for the last four seasons, it now appears that 2022 fourth-round pick Jerome Ford will soon be featured more prominently alongside Nick Chubb.

Meanwhile, after signing a pair of one-year deals with the Browns the last two offseasons, Anthony Walker Jr. saw his 2022 campaign come to a premature end when he suffered a season-ending torn quad tendon in Week 3. Despite the injury, wouldn't be a surprise to see Cleveland once re-sign Walker, who has performed well and been a vocal leader in his two seasons with the Browns.

Similarly, 2019 third-round pick Sione Takitaki has shown flashes in his four seasons in Cleveland, but suffered a season-ending torn ACL in December. While he may not be ready in time for the start of the 2023 campaign, the Browns could look to re-sign the BYU product on a team-friendly contract in hopes he could contribute -- and set himself up for a bigger payday -- later in the season.

Another intriguing name for Cleveland is center Ethan Pocic, who was originally signed as backup but performed admirably after Nick Harris suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. But with big money already committed to Joel Bitonio, Wyatt Teller and Jack Conklin, the Browns likely wouldn't be able to afford to get into a bidding war to re-sign Pocic.

Elsewhere, Taven Bryan was Cleveland's most consistent defensive tackle last season, although that wasn't exactly clearing a high bar. If he's brought back to the Browns in 2023 it would likely be as a backup rather than a starter.

Cleveland also had high hopes for linebacker Deion Jones after acquiring him in a midseason trade with the Atlanta Falcons. The 2017 Pro Bowl selection, however, likely didn't play well enough to make re-signing him a priority for the Browns' front office.

Quality depth

  • QB Jacoby Brissett
  • CB Greedy Williams
  • OL Chris Hubbard
  • S Ronnie Harrison
  • RB D'Ernest Johnson
  • DE Chase Winovich
  • OL Hjalte Froholdt
  • OL Michael Dunn (RFA)
  • CB A.J. Green (RFA)
  • TE Pharaoh Brown
  • TE Jesse James

Jacoby Brissett played well enough in his 11 games as Cleveland's starting quarterback last season that he likely priced himself out of being Deshaun Watson's backup moving forward. While he may not land a guaranteed starting role, the veteran signal-caller will likely be signing with a team that gives him a more viable path to playing time than the Browns can offer.

A 2019 second-round pick, Greedy Williams arrived in Cleveland with plenty of acclaim, but now appears to be the odd man out in a Browns cornerbacks room that includes Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome II and Martin Emerson Jr. Even if cornerback is a position you can never have enough depth at, it would be a surprise to see the LSU product re-sign with Cleveland at this point.

Originally signed to be a starter, Chris Hubbard eventually became a valuable -- and versatile -- backup for the Browns. But with Jedrick Wills Jr. and Jack Conklin locked in as starters and James Hudson III having emerged as a viable backup, the 31-year-old's time in Cleveland has likely come to an end.

The same could be said of safety Ronnie Harrison and running back D'Ernest Johnson, who will likely seek paths to more available playing time this offseason. As for the players who the Browns will attempt to re-sign this offseason, offensive lineman Michael Dunn and cornerback A.J. Green stand out as viable targets, assuming neither restricted free agent receives a significant offer elsewhere.

Rounding out the roster

  • DE Stephen Weatherly
  • LB Reggie Ragland
  • LB Jermaine Carter, Jr.
  • LB Tae Davis
  • LB Jordan Kunaszyk
  • DE Chris Odom (ERFA)
  • CB Thomas Graham Jr. (ERFA)
  • DL Ben Stille (ERFA)

These players are largely interchangeable and it wouldn't be a surprise to see any of them return or not return to Cleveland in 2023. If there are any players on this list to keep an eye on, it's worth noting that Reggie Ragland performed well in limited action last season, while the Browns also had high hopes for USFL Defensive Player of the Year Chris Odom, before the Arkansas State product suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.

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