After a strong finish to the 2018 season, winning five of their last seven games, the Browns fell and finished their 2019 campaign with a 6-10 record, firing head coach Freddie Kitchens.
The Browns will enter this season with their 11th head coach since 2001 as Kevin Stefanski takes over after spending the past 13 years with the Minnesota Vikings. The 37-year-old looks to bring stability to the head coach role for the Browns.
The Browns have been active during the offseason, so let’s dive into some key acquisitions and losses for Cleveland.
Key Additions: QB Case Keenum, FB Andy Janovich, TE Austin Hooper, OT Jack Conklin, DE Adrian Clayborn, LB B.J. Goodson, CB Kevin Johnson, S Karl Joseph, S Andrew Sendejo, OT Jedrick Wills, and S Grant Delpit
Key Losses: QB Drew Stanton, TE Ricky Seals-Jones, OT Greg Robinson, G Eric Kush, LB Joe Schobert, LB Christian Kirksey, S Morgan Burnett, S Damarious Randall, S Eric Murray, and S Juston Burris
Now, let’s go through the Cleveland Browns roster going into 2020.
Starter: Baker Mayfield
Backups: Case Keenum and Garrett Gilbert
The Browns drafted Mayfield with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Mayfield took over early in the season flashed his potential to be the future franchise QB.
After his solid rookie campaign, the expectations were high for Mayfield going into 2019, and he severely struggled with inconsistency and turnovers. After throwing for over 3,700 yards and 27 touchdowns, he took a step back last year. Mayfield produced a lower completion percentage and fewer touchdowns, with more turnovers. Due to his rough season, the offense never really found its identity.
Stefanski is coming off a solid coaching season as the Vikings Offensive Coordinator. With him calling the offense, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins produced one of the best seasons of his career, recording 3,606 yards and 26 touchdowns. Mayfield has already proven to have great accuracy and can thrive in an up tempo and a pass-heavy offense, like the one he played in at Oklahoma.
He has a new weapon as well this year as TE Austin Hooper joined the Browns in free agency and a revamped offensive line, which should lead to improvements in year three.
The Browns signed Case Keenum, reuniting him with Stefanski as they spent time together in Minnesota. Keenum is also a great backup QB option as he bring veteran experience and leadership.
Starter: Nick Chubb
Backups: Kareem Hunt, Dontrell Hilliard, D’Ernest Johnson, and Andy Janovich
The RB position is one of the top strengths for the Browns this year. Nick Chubb has only been in the league for two seasons and he has become one of the league’s top players at the position. Over his first two seasons, Chubb has gained over 2,400 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. With a revamped offensive line, Chubb can increase his production again this year with a change in the blocking scheme.
After placing a second round tender on him before the start of free agency, Kareem Hunt returns to the Browns, keeping a dangerous duo for another season. While Chubb dominates on the ground, Hunt is a threat as a receiving option out the backfield with his speed, hard running style, and elusiveness.
Andy Janovich joins the Browns following a trade from the Denver Broncos. He has become a regular FB.
The Browns have one of the league’s best RB rooms and a dangerous duo out of the backfield that will be key to the success and identity of the offense.
Starters: Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry
Backups: Damion Ratley, Taywan Taylor, KhaDarel Hodge, D.J. Montgomery, J’Mon Moore, JoJo Natson, and Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Browns have tremendous star power at the top of the WR position, but the depth is a concern for them. Beckham is coming off one of the worst seasons in his career. He posted a career-low in receptions, yards, touchdowns, and yards per games (excluding the 2017 season, when he suffered a season-ending injury). He looks to bounce back in year two with the Browns following surgery this offseason.
Landry produced another strong campaign last year, recording a career-high in receiving yards with 1,174 yards, pairing it with six touchdowns. In his two years with the Browns, Landry has posted over 2,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. Landry outshined Beckham last year and is looking to produce another strong season as he enters year three in Cleveland.
The field is wide open for the third WR spot. Rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones could take over the role as he possesses great size and speed. Ratley and Hodge flashed their potential throughout the course of last year, but new addition JoJo Natson will mainly make his mark on special teams.
Starters: Austin Hooper and David Njoku
Backups: Harrison Bryant, Stephen Carlson, and Pharaoh Brown
The Browns made one of the earliest splashes in free agency, adding Austin Hooper from Atlanta. Last year with the Falcons, Hooper set career-highs in receptions (75), receiving yards (787), and touchdowns (6). He joins a loaded arsenal for Baker Mayfield, showing signs of a potential top offense in the league.
David Njoku is coming off a season-ending injury and is looking to bounce back after only recording five receptions in four total games last year. He has a solid 2018 campaign with Mayfield under center and he looks to return to his sophomore season form.
Stefanski loves to utilize TEs, and he has plenty of talent at the position with Njoku’s potential and the two-time Pro Bowler in Hooper. These two will create a solid duo for the offense. Add in fourth-round draft pick, Harrison Bryant, who led all TEs in receiving last year with Florida Atlantic (1,004 yards).
Starters: Jedrick Wills (LT), Joe Bitonio (LG), JC Tretter (C), Wyatt Teller (RG), and Jack Conklin (RT)
Backups: Chris Hubbard, Kendall Lamm, Nick Harris Evan Brown, Willie Wright, Drew Forbes, Malcolm Pridgeon, and Colby Gossett
Cleveland’s offensive line struggled severely last year. Mayfield was sacked 40 times on the season. The front office focused on improving the line and did so.
Before the end of last season, they extended JC Tretter, giving them stability at the center position. In free agency, they signed Jack Conklin, immediately improving their RT position. Finally, with the No. 10 overall pick in April’s draft, the Brown selected Jedrick Wills out of Alabama. He is an immediate starter for the offensive line.
With new faces and new blocking scheme, Cleveland should expect lots of improvement from the offensive line in both pass protection and in the running game.
Starters: Myles Garrett (DE), Sheldon Richardson (DT), Larry Ogunjobi (DT), and Olivier Vernon (DE)
Backups: Adrian Clayborn, Jordan Elliot, Andrew Billings, Chad Thomas, Porter Gustin, Robert McCray, Trevon Young, Eli Ankou, Brandin Bryant, Daniel Ekuale, and Justin Zimmer
The Browns defensive line added some depth this offseason. To compete with Olivier Vernon and to at worst play a key depth role, the Browns signed DE Adrian Clayborn, who has 36.5 career sacks.
They also drafted Jordan Elliot out of Missouri and signed Andrew Billings in free agency to add depth at the DT position. Billings has played well against the run throughout his career, while Elliot was one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in all of college football last season.
Myles Garrett looks to take it up another level this season. the former No. 1 overall pick has 30.5 career sacks in just three seasons and is a nightmare coming off the edge.
Richardson and Ogunjobi return as the starters at the DT positions. In his first season with the Browns last year, Richardson recorded 62 tackles and three sacks. Ogunjobi enters his fourth season and has combined for 11 sacks and 28 QB Hits over the past two seasons.
Starters: Mack Wilson, Sione Takitaki, and B.J. Goodson
Backups: Tae Davis, Willie Harvey, Montrel Meander, Jermaine Grace, and Jacob Phillips
The LB position is one of the biggest question marks for the Browns going into this season. They lost two key contributors from their LB unit in Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey.
The past three seasons, Schobert has recorded at least 100 tackles. Kirksey played the past six seasons in Cleveland, notching two season with over 100 tackles.
2019 third-round pick, Mack Wilson, who. started 14 games for the Browns last year, recorded 82 tackles and will likely be one of the top players at the LB position this year.
B.J. Goodson brings some veteran experience to a young LB group as he has played in the league for four years. He has shown flashes of brilliance in both the run game and pass game.
Takitaki started one game for Cleveland last year, but is looking to break out of his shell and become solid piece for the Cleveland defense in year two.
Starters: Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams
Backups: Terrance Mitchell, Robert Jackson, Donnie Lewis Jr., Tavierre Thomas, Kevin Johnson, and Donovan Olumba
Denzel Ward has become the lead corner for the Browns defense in just two seasons. Over his first two season, he has 22 passes defensed and five interceptions. He will stay as the top corner in the system as he is becoming a rising star in the league.
Greedy Williams enter his second season in the league. He started 12 games for Cleveland last year and flashed his potential, but doesn’t have a huge sample size to go off of, but he looks to take a step up in the CB2 role in 2020.
The addition of Kevin Johnson gives the Browns a new option in the slot to play alongside Ward and Williams. Terrance Mitchell will also be in the mix for the slot role.
The 2020 NFL Draft marked the first time since 2008 the Browns did not draft a corner.
Starters: Grant Delpit and Karl Joseph
Backups: Andrew Sendejo, Sheldrick Redwine, and J.T. Hassell
The safety group for the Browns will feature three new faces, with two of them being starters. Joseph joined Cleveland in free agency after playing his first four seasons with the Raiders. He was injured last season, but still plays physical and is a solid safety option.
Delpit was drafted in the second round for April’s draft. Originally rumored to be a top 10 pick at the beginning of the college season, Delpit suffered from injury, but was still one of the top safety prospects. He won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2019. Expect some big things from him in the NFL.
Andrew Sendejo joins the Browns as well after spending last season with the Vikings and Eagles. He brings valuable depth to the safety position and can be a great piece to aid the development of Delpit.
Starters: Austin Seibert (K), Jamie Gillan (P), Charley Hughlett (LS)
The youth at kicker and punter last season shined and the Browns liked what they saw. Seibert and Gillan will only improve and get better with their brightest days ahead.
The Browns look to be a more complete team this year with the additions on the offensive line and tight end position. The offense has the talent to be one of the league’s best and the defense has some really good pieces that could elevate them to the playoffs this year. The Browns can be a sneaky team this year as they hope to live up to the hype from last year.