The Browns‘ offseason so far has been…mercurial.
It’s featured the highs of Perrion Winfrey’s introductory press conference and news that David Bell might very well be that guy.
But the lows have been painful for the fanbase: the ongoing Deshaun Watson scandal and legal fallout, the prolonged Baker Mayfield debacle that finally found resolution last week.
But the summer is far from over.
That means there are still moves and decisions to be made to improve the team.
And while the lion-share of stories likely revolve around Cleveland’s plans at quarterback if Watson misses time, this one will not.
That’s because there are other positions on the roster that might need some filling.
Or at the very least, some depth-adding.
Is receiver one of those?
In recent years, Cleveland has boasted a generally strong crop of receiving options.
Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry formed a two-headed catching monster.
And TE Austin Hooper was no slouch, either, with three TDs on 38 receptions last year.
But heading into 2022-23, the Browns’ receiving room looks simultaneously different and the same.
#Browns Deshaun Watson to Donovan Peoples Jones for a TD in red zone 7 on 7s pic.twitter.com/vZmi0McmgN
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) June 14, 2022
The team brought in Cowboys star Amari Cooper and drafted Bell, but is also apparently going with a slew of guys who’ve been in the system for awhile.
The only problem?
Cooper was a nice add, but there aren’t many “known quantities” at the position, as Bleacher Report’s Jake Rill noted:
“But this still isn’t a group that ranks among the best in the NFL. If Bell doesn’t become an immediate contributor, then Cleveland is lacking depth beyond Cooper. The most notable returning wide receivers the Browns have are Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz, and they also signed Jakeem Grant Sr. in free agency. None of those three are proven impact playmakers, though.”
While the news about Bell’s hands being made out of industrial-grade glue are great, he still hasn’t made a single professional reception.
And Peoples-Jones and Schwartz both carry a lot of “potential” but at some point, that potential has to become consistent.
Last season, Peoples-Jones went for 597 yards and three scores.
The Browns are going to need significantly more from him this year.
Fortunately, he should have every opportunity to shine now that Beckham and Landry are out of the picture.
But does that mean Cleveland should be done auditioning receivers for next season?
As it stands, former stars like Julio Jones and Emmanuel Sanders are still free agents.
So too is Beckham, but, a reunion between Cleveland and Beckham is highly, highly unlikely.
Julio Jones – Ranking by Yards per Route Run
2013: 1st (2.75)
2014: 5th (2.72)
2015: 1st (3.04)
2016: 1st (3.12)
2017: 1st (3.08)
2018: 1st (3.03)
2019: 5th (2.44)
2020: 4th (2.60)
2021: don't worry about it
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) July 7, 2022
But there might be value in adding a veteran receiving presence to the team.
There’s been a recent trend of veteran receivers making big differences for their teams on the field.
Take Antonio Brown in Tampa Bay, for example.
Before his strange exit from the team last season, he was one of Tom Brady’s most trusted targets.
And when he left, the team lost an offensive dimension that it never really regained.
And what about Beckham in Los Angeles last season?
Despite claims that the receiver was washed and past his prime, he went to the Rams and played a major role in their Super Bowl run down the stretch.
These vets aren’t going to make or break a team.
But they’ve shown to be nice depth-adds when a QB needs an experienced and trusted outlet pass.
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