Top CFL players the Browns should check out

An interesting look by @joshkeatley16. Some top CFL players the Browns should check out #CFL #Browns

The Canadian Football League season ended on December 12th when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won in overtime against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and as is tradition every season there is always a few CFL studs that will get a shot in the NFL.

It is not unheard of for former players that shined north of the border earning starting gigs in the NFL. Everyone knows the obvious stars like Warren Moon, Doug Flutie and Joe Theismann and that may not be an option, but it is completely within reason that the Cleveland Browns can snag a guy like Delvin Breaux, Jon Ryan or Alex Singleton. The following are five CFL players that can play in the NFL.

Texans GM Nick Caserio says he is on headsets as a resource

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio told @sportsradio610 that he is on the headsets during games as a resource to the coach.

Nick Caserio wearing a headset during the Houston Texans’ games is the only instance of a current general manager being a part of the game day communication.

However, the second-year general manager told “Payne & Pendergast” on Sports Radio 610 [KILT-AM] Tuesday that the reason he is on headsets is because of his 20 seasons spent with the New England Patriots where he wore them. Caserio also stressed that he intends to wear headsets to be a resource for the Texans’ coach.

“I would say this year it was more just listening, observing,” said Caserio. “If there were things that came up during the game that we needed to talk about situationally, then we would communicate that. So, my philosophy has been just provide information where necessary; be a resource and be as helpful as possible, whatever that constitution is.”

Caserio pointed out that other teams in the NFL, while not having their general manager on the headsets, do have personnel-related individuals or analytics staff on headsets.

Said Caserio: “I would say there’s other people throughout the league. They either have their analytics person or somebody from their personnel department maybe doing some of the same things.”

What highlights the fact Caserio is on headsets is his role as general manager.

I think what happens is maybe it gets a little bit magnified because of my ‘title’ and my role,” said Caserio. “In my mind, I know what my role and title is, but I don’t look at it that way. I’m a football person. I’m engaged in the game. I was very well trained with a great organization. So, you’re trying to take all of that information and disseminate and use it in a most efficient way possible.

“So, I’m never going to shy away from it. I’m always going to be straight up and tell whoever the coach is, if they have a question, try to get some clarity. That’s my job and responsibility to provide clarity.”

If the Texans hire a coach who worked in New England when Caserio was there from 2001-20, they may have familiarity with Caserio on the headsets. A new coach outside of the Bill Belichick coaching tree may have some discomfort having their boss listening in on their in-game decision-making.

Texans GM Nick Caserio refers to criticism of Jack Easterby as ‘little bit unjust’

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio told @sportsradio610 that the criticism of Jack Easterby has been a “little bit unjust” since his arrival.

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio believes the criticism of executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby has been unfair.

Easterby, who was hired in April 2019 as vice president of team development and later promoted to his current role in January 2020, has been the subject of intense criticism from the Houston and national media as the Texans have posted records of 4-12 and 4-13 since his promotion.

The perception is Easterby has too much say in the organization, which has led to bad contracts and other deleterious results.

While that may have been the case when Bill O’Brien was the coach and general manager, Caserio insisted on “Payne & Pendergast” on Sports Radio 610 [KILT-AM] Tuesday that Easterby is not as heavily involved in football decisions any longer.

Jack has been a hot topic for a lot of people,” said Caserio. “I’d say candidly some of the criticism has been unfair. I think Jack has an important role in the operational and logistics standpoint. That’s what he was brought here to do. That’s his role in football operation. I talked about this last spring. Anything as it pertains to making football decisions, whether it’s players, contract signings, scouting, draft analysis, those all fall under my jurisdiction. So, I would say if you look at a football operation in its entirety, it takes a number of different people.”

Caserio suggested that the collaborative effort to put together a successful football team takes multiple points of input, and that there is a misperception as to Easterby’s role.

Said Caserio: “I would say that I have a lot of respect and appreciation for the job that Jack does, and candidly not a lot of people really understand the nuts and bolts of it. But when you get a chance to spend time with Jack, I mean, you realize it’s probably not as bad as everybody makes it out to be. I’d say from his perspective, it’s always been an operational and kind of a logistics standpoint, and there are certain areas that maybe fall under his jurisdiction that we’ll communicate about, and I can handle the football areas. If there’s something we can talk about collectively as a whole, whether it’s myself, Jack, the head coach, whoever it is, then those lines of communication are open.”

Caserio and Easterby go back to their time with the New England Patriots from 2013-18 when he was a character coach. The Patriots’ last three Super Bowl wins came during that time frame with victories at the end of the 2014, 2016, and 2018 seasons. As winning world championships does, it has fortified the bond between two ex-Patriots.

“Look, Jack’s been a punching bag since he got here,” said Caserio. “Some of it I think quite frankly was a little bit unjust. Everybody has an opinion and they’re certainly entitled to their opinion. We’ll just kind of keep moving forward.”

The Texans’ most pressing order of business is to find their fifth full-time coach in team history. Easterby may have input on that decision, but Caserio has tried to make it clear he won’t be a decision-maker on such consequential football moves.

Vikings interview Browns exec Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for their GM vacancy

Adofo-Mensah is the Browns VP of Football Operations and is frequently mentioned as a leading candidate to become a GM

[mm-video type=playlist id=01eqbw33aqtym0ft0g player_id=none image=https://brownswire.usatoday.com/wp-content/plugins/mm-video/images/playlist-icon.png]

The Minnesota Vikings announced on Monday they have completed an interview with Cleveland Browns vice president of football operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah for the team’s vacancy at general manager.

It’s the first interview this offseason for Adofo-Mensah, who has been a fixture on the “names to know” watchlists for NFL GMs for over a year. He’s been with the Browns for the last two seasons in his current role.

Prior to his time in Cleveland under GM Andrew Berry, Adofo-Mensah was the director of football research for the San Francisco 49ers for several years. He’s considered one of the top young analytical minds in the league.

The Vikings have interviewed several candidates in their quest to find Rick Spielman’s successor at GM. If they do hire Adofo-Mensah, who is Black, the Browns would be in line to receive two third-round compensatory picks.

3 Browns moves could save team $30 million in cap space in 2022

Three quick cuts and the Browns can almost double their salary cap space. Are they worth it? Depends on how you value the players that would be involved:

Earlier, we noted that the Cleveland Browns rolled over $10 million in salary-cap space from 2021 to 2022. That rollover boosted the team’s available cap space to $37 million but gave them only the 13th most cap space going into the 2022 season. The Miami Dolphins are currently set to lead the lead in space with a whopping $73 million.

The Browns have work to do on their roster for next year. They have stated they expect Baker Mayfield to have a bounce-back year but will need talent around him to do it. Given the struggles in 2021, it is possible that the team also shakes up the roster some.

There are three moves Cleveland could make to quickly add about $30 million in cap space. All three of the moves would come on the offensive side of the ball but Andrew Berry and company still could decide to make.

The biggest move, both in terms of cap space and name value, is cutting WR Jarvis Landry. Landry has one year left on his contract and is coming off the worst performance, and health, of his career. While the Browns need help at receiver, it is possible that Landry and the team decide it is best for them to part ways.

Releasing Landry frees up $15.1 million in cap space while only counting $1.5 million in dead cap.

Continuing on with older veterans with some health issues, OL J.C. Tretter could also be cut by the team. Nick Harris looked good in his place late in the season and Tretter’s departure would save the team over $8 million in cap space while only counting $1.625 million against the cap. Tretter has been an important leader for the offensive line but his knee has limited him for a few seasons.

Tretter’s role as NFLPA president has also placed extra attention on his role as a player in Cleveland.

Finally, the third release is backup QB Case Keenum. While many are calling for more competition for Mayfield, not less, the team played their injured quarterback over their backup most of the year. They showed how they feel about Keenum and can save $6.5 million in releasing him while only counting $1.33 against the salary cap.

Combined, those three moves would save the team $29.85 million in salary-cap space. That would jump their available space up to $67 million and slot them at third in the league, based on current expectations from Over the Cap.

TE Austin Hooper could be released post-June 1st to save the team $9.5 million but cost them $3.75 million in dead cap space.

OL Jack Conklin is another name that could save the team cap space in the last year of his deal but his dead cap hit is higher than the team’s savings ($9 million to $6 million). The only other player whose departure could save Cleveland significant cap space is RB Kareem Hunt, $6.25 million, but that seems highly unlikely.

As expected, Browns rollover significant cap space into 2022

The team rolls over more than $10 million to 2022 but still aren’t in the top 10 in cap space for 2022:

The Cleveland Browns have a lot of work to do in the 2022 offseason to return to the playoffs after missing in 2021. Jarvis Landry wants to get back to the postseason, his contract might make that less likely, while Jadeveon Clowney enjoyed his time in Cleveland but is going to let money decide his next destination.

With the NFL salary cap set to rise to $208.2 million, plenty of teams will have money to spend in free agency. The Browns have Denzel Ward and Baker Mayfield entering the final years of their rookie deals along with a few defenders set to become free agents this season.

Monday came word that the team, as expected, rolled over the remaining salary cap space from 2021 into 2022:

As Yates notes, that means Cleveland’s total salary cap is just under $219 million for the 2022 season. According to Over The Cap, the Browns are set to have just over $37 million in salary-cap space, based on the $219 million total cap for the team, going into 2022.

While that seems like a lot of space, Cleveland is currently set to have the 13th most going into 2022 with Miami leading the way with a whopping $73 million.

If the Browns don’t find free agents worth spending significant money on this offseason, the team could use that money to extend Ward with upfront cash or, like they just did, roll it over for future use.

Texans GM Nick Caserio likes the ‘competitive spirit’ of the organization

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio is encouraged by the way the organization has developed a “competitive spirit” over the past year.

Nick Caserio has been the Houston Texans general manager for the past calendar year, and the results don’t seem to be too different from what they were when he took over.

After a 4-12 finish in 2020 wherein Romeo Crennel finished out as the interim coach following Bill O’Brien being fired after an 0-4 start, the Texans responded in the first year of the Caserio era with a 4-13 finish under first-year coach David Culley, who was canned at the end of the season.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Caserio acknowledged to reporters on Jan. 14. “This year, I think we put a really good foundation in place. I’d say with the infrastructure and the team and the players, you all talked to the players on a week-to-week basis.”

The Texans had some favorable things happen on an individual level. Receiver Brandin Cooks recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season with Houston — something he did not do with the Los Angeles Rams, for example, from 2018-19 — and notched his sixth 1,000-yard season among his eight played. As a team, the Texans were the only team with a losing record to finish in the top-10 in takeaways with 25.

2022 appears to be better as the Texans will have more salary cap flexibility and draft picks to help complete the rebuild.

“There’s a lot of work to do in front of us and we’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves,” said Caserio. “But I think the competitive spirit and the mindset and the thought process of the people that are here in the building is overall positive.”

Ultimately Caserio knows that positivity inside NRG Stadium and going about the fundamentals correctly is immaterial if it does not lead to wins.

Said Caserio: “Those things have to transfer over into production on the field. Nobody realizes that more than I do. We’re committed to making whatever changes are necessary and trying to put together the best team possible for the 2022 season, whatever the construct looks like.”

The first step to have a successful 2022 is to find Culley’s replacement. The Texans have conducted interviews with Brian Flores, Joe Lombardi, and Hines Ward.

[listicle id=70391]

NFL free agency unlikely to solve Browns WR problem

Andrew Berry is always aggressive but he might find it hard to fill the WR need in free agency for a variety of reasons:

The Cleveland Browns have a need at wide receiver, that much is clear. While we wrote about the first two games of the playoffs, the wild card weekend truly showed the need for an explosive offense that was lacking in Cleveland.

The success of the 2020 Browns without much speed or explosion on the outside was a rarity in the NFL these days. Even a team like the Tennesse Titans, who are built similar to Cleveland, have A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the outside.

At this moment, the Browns have a developing Donovan Peoples-Jones, speedy but inconsistent Anthony Schwartz and free-agent-to-be David Njoku as their most explosive players. Jarvis Landry bemoaned not playing on wild card weekend but could be on his way out of town based on the cap hit on the last year of his contract.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, NFL free agency seems unlikely to solve their problem at wide receiver. A quick look at the top receivers that could become free agents shows some talent:

  • Davante Adams
  • Chris Godwin
  • Allen Robinson
  • Michael Gallup
  • Will Fuller
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster

Adams seems unlikely to make it out of Green Bay, Godwin and Gallup both tore their ACLs late in the season, Robinson just had the worst season of his career, Fuller is hit or miss and Smith-Schuster is more name than explosive game at this point.

While there may be limitations to each player, the Browns would be thankful to acquire any of them at a reasonable price.

Price is the first obstacle. While Cleveland is expected to have a good amount of cap space, they have a variety of needs to fill this offseason. With Jadeveon Clowney either signing for big money or going elsewhere, a defensive end addition may be necessary in free agency. Interior defensive line and more defensive backs may also be high on their list.

The bigger obstacle is the performance of the team’s offense in 2021 and the history of Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Baker Mayfield and company were less than stellar last year. The Browns have made it clear that they expect Mayfield to “bounce back” but will a free agent trust that to happen if they have similar or better options elsewhere?

Stefanski’s scheme also puts a lot of emphasis on getting the ball to tight ends and spreading the ball around. If a receiver is looking to build his resume, Stefanski’s system is not set up to prioritize one player in that way. Frustrations from Stephon Diggs in Minnesota and Odell Beckham Jr. in Cleveland are two examples of receivers who wanted to be showcased more.

For the Browns to find answers at receiver, trades and the NFL draft are the more likely route in 2022. It may be hard for Andrew Berry to move draft assets for a receiver but the team needs a reliable, explosive player outside to meet their goals next year. A big-time free agent addition seems unlikely. Perhaps double-dipping with a trade and an early draft pick at the position will do the trick.

Saturday’s playoff results point to Browns need for offense

The first two playoff games, both from the AFC, showed what the Browns front office must focus on this offseason:

The Cleveland Browns did not make the NFL playoffs in 2021 after doing so in 2020. Last year, the Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and gave the Kansas City Chiefs, without Patrick Mahomes for most of the game, a run for their money in the second round.

This year, Jarvis Landry is bemoaning not making the playoffs and Cleveland is busy figuring out how to build around a “bounce back” Baker Mayfield.

The Browns defense was very good in 2021 but may need to replace Jadeveon Clowney, who is focused on getting paid, as well as a few other free agents. The early success of their first two picks in the 2021 NFL draft will also help.

Saturday’s playoff results, with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills moving on to the second round, point to Cleveland’s need for more offense. While defense can never be ignored, the team’s offense has greatly struggled. Saturday is a great example of what the Browns need.

The Bengals rushed out to a 20-6 lead before attempting to salt away the game while the Bills demolished New England 47-17. While Cincinnati only scored 26 points, that is more points than Cleveland scored in their final eight games of the season.

Only five times in 2021 did the Browns score 26 points or more points.

Despite a great running game and great offensive line, Mayfield and company were not able to put up big numbers much of the season. With the team planning to build around Mayfield, Saturday’s results show how important investing in skill positions will be for Cleveland this offseason.

For Jadeveon Clowney, money is the deciding factor, can the Browns meet his price?

Clowney was honest about why he will make his free-agent decision in 2022. What would a return mean for the Browns finances?

The Cleveland Browns added a lot to their defense in the 2021 offseason but some of those deals were of the one-year variety. The biggest addition, by name, was defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. While John Johnson III signed a long-term deal and was considered the team’s big acquisition, it was Clowney that grabbed headlines.

The former top pick was able to play in 14 games after missing half of the previous season. His nine sacks were tied for the second-best of his career, right behind the 9.5 he had in 2017.

Clowney’s presence and production helped Myles Garrett on the other side. The two huge defensive ends were able to push the pocket, disrupt the quarterback and the run game at the same time.

As one of the players signed to a one-year deal, Clowney is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season. Meeting with the media to wrap up the year, Clowney made it clear what would decide where he signed for 2022:

While he enjoyed playing with Garrett, Clowney made it clear that a discount to stay was unlikely. He will be 29 years old next season looking for a big deal despite only playing a full season once in his career.

Taking a look at the defensive end market from free agency last year, there are a couple of comparable players. Carl Lawson and Trey Hendrickson signed deals averaging $15 million a year. Arik Armstead signed a contract a year previous to those two players averaging $17 million a year.

All three of those players were younger than Clowney when they signed their deals. Robert Quinn was slightly older than the Browns defender when he signed his five-year, $70 million deal with Chicago in 2020.

With Garrett the third highest-paid defensive end in the NFL, Cleveland would have to commit an average of about $40 million a year in just their two edge rusher to keep Clowney at a similar rate to those noted above. With Denzel Ward entering his final contract year, along with Baker Mayfield, the team may not be able to push that much money into one position.