Browns Have Become ‘It’ Rumor Team For the Best Reasons – Sports Illustrated

The Cleveland Browns have come up in connection with another star that could be moved, a trend that is unlikely to stop for the foreseeable future.

Even if not all rumors are based in reality and can be an educated guess, most every star player that has a contract dispute, wants a trade or seems out of place can be linked to the Cleveland Browns. The reasoning is the Browns have cap flexibility, are loaded with talent and it’s not always easy to predict what they are going to do.

Miami Dolphins corner Xavien Howard is the latest to be mentioned in connection with the Browns. A phenomenal corner, coming off a career year where he had a credible argument for Defensive Player of the Year (awarded to Aaron Donald), has signaled his discontent with the fact he is the second highest paid corner on the Dolphins behind Byron Jones, who was signed as a free agent last year.

It doesn’t seem likely the Browns would pull the trigger on Howard, who earns $12.075 million in 2021 with an extremely reasonable three years left on the extension he signed, but he wants a new one. The Browns are also talking contract extension with Denzel Ward.

That doesn’t change the fact the Browns could make a deal for Howard. They have young corners in Greedy Williams and Greg Newsome, who the team really looks and cost next to nothing for the next two years at least, but neither is proven and the best case scenario is they would be able to achieve what Howard already has. There’s at least reason to consider it.

It was a similar situation with Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter, who was unhappy with his contract. He was linked to the Browns as a possibility to become the best edge rusher duo in the NFL across from Myles Garrett. The Vikings worked out a new deal with Hunter and the Browns signed Jadeveon Clowney.

The Browns weren’t linked to Julio Jones nationally, but he was at least a conversation among certain media (myself for one) and fans. Even Deshaun Watson was a discussion around Cleveland.

The Browns have become this dangerous team that is potentially waiting in the wings to make a deal for most every superstar player that might move. None of these moves have happened to this point in terms of trades, but they are all at least conversations that have merits to them.

Much of that is a credit to general manager Andrew Berry and what he’s been able to do both amassing talent and managing the salary cap.

The Browns currently have approximately $20.7 million in cap space. They could absolutely roll that money over into 2022, giving them more money to use that year. Likewise, they could see a player and a deal they love and bring in another star as they hope to win the Super Bowl in 2021.

That creates this element of mystery and the fact that whether or not there’s actually any concrete information that links the player to the Browns, the Browns are naturally going to come up because they can.

The best part about this, which has been something the organization has loved about this is the fact it keeps the Browns coming up, particularly on national shows, various other media platforms. When the Browns have loudly pursued a player, it was deliberate. They were putting it out there to be picked up on by media. Certainly, they want the player, but they also wanted players around the league to get comfortable with the idea that the Browns are good and they could see themselves playing there.

That’s where credit goes to Kevin Stefanski, the head coach of the team, and being able to prove it on the field.

It has worked and some players are starting to view the Browns and Cleveland as a destination. It may have helped them in signing some of the big free agents they acquired this offseason.

Now, the Browns don’t have to give up any information and they’re still getting that benefit. They certainly could do it to continue getting that buzz, but they are mysterious enough that they’ve engrained themselves as this potential power team that is always considering its options.

It’s all true as the team rarely ever closes the door on anything and always considers its options, but they’ve made that calculation before pursuing the player. So while they’ve discussed a player internally, that doesn’t mean they have plans to pull the trigger.

The net effect is now people aren’t laughing at the Browns and suddenly have to at least consider if the Browns might be interested in a player. That’s good for the Browns and helps to only increase this unpredictable element in terms of how they plan to improve their team.

READ MORE: 4 Browns Players with Most to Gain in 2021