I know. Its crazy early to form any solid opinions. Technically, free agency isn’t even open yet. As of 12:01 AM Saturday, teams were allowed to express interest in free agents via their representatives/agents. The NFL sent out a firm warning memo threatening investigations and possible penalties if any deals were struck early or even numbers discussed, so don’t expect much to leak out as far as deals go until after things open up officially on Tuesday.
In the meantime, we can start to see the bigger picture form up by taking a look at the guys the Browns quickly showed an interest in. As expected, the Browns got into contact with reps for both Paul Kruger (OLB, Ravens) and Cliff Avril (DE, Lions). These guys have both been in the Browns sights from the minute Ray Horton came in and they decided to transition to the 3-4. The Browns also contacted Dannell Ellerbe’s (ILB, Ravens). I think this is more a strategy to help ensure that the Browns actually get Kruger, or more specifically to take away the Ravens ability to resign both men. The Ravens are more likely to give Ellerbe a big deal than Kruger, but they won’t have the cap space to resign both to the deals they are expected to command. So, the Browns potentially steal a playmaker from a Division rival, and also help push them to hamstring their own capspace. If it works, its brilliant.
At the cornerback position, where the Browns really lacked a solid starter opposite lockdown corner Joe Haden, the Browns have cast the net wide and deep (there are quite a few CB’s available in this years free agency period). The two the Browns are rumored to have the most interest in are Antoine Cason (Chargers) and Greg Toler (Cardinals). Both are in their primes, and are solid, dependable corners. They would be excellent opposite Haden. At Safety, the Browns are rumored to have interest in Keith Lewis (49ers). Lewis is a solid veteran, who would provide a nice presence in the Browns secondary.
The Browns have also contacted reps for Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler, as well as Jets tight end Dustin Keller. The Browns are still expected to look in contacting reps for the various WR’s available, as well as a few more CB’s and TE’s (Jared Cook, Titans in particular).