November 27, 2022

Free Agent Spotlight: Cameron Fleming

For the past couple of season, the right tackle position has rotated between a few different names. After Mitchell Schwartz left to join the Kansas City Chiefs, the position group took a huge hit. Schwartz was one of the best at the position in his final season with the Cleveland Browns. Not re-signing Schwartz is probably a move the team regrets as they have lacked stability.

This past season, the position was held by former 3rd round pick, Shon Coleman. Coleman did show some flashes of good and consistent play, but not enough to hand him the starting job without looking at options to upgrade the position.

The Browns invested a lot of money last offseason in retooling the offensive line. The need was obvious through the 2016 season. The team was able to add J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler, who were both the tops at their position. They were able to join forces with both Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio, already two Pro Bowl-caliber linemen.

The Browns line did struggle at times this year. A couple of factors were at hand through these times of struggle. First was the awful and unexpected injury to Joe Thomas. This was a bigger impact than just losing your starting left tackle. Thomas had been an ironman and had not missed a snap since entering the league. Additionally, you also had three new starters for the Browns with Tretter, Zeitler and Coleman.

While the offensive line is one of the stronger position groups, there are underlying issues that need to be resolved. The first is the status and future of Joe Thomas, after suffering his season-ending injury. This has now put the veteran in a place where he is debating retirement. If it does not happen this season, we can expect it in the next few. This means that the Browns need to start planning for life post-Thomas. The other issue is finding your long-term solution at your right tackle. If the coaching staff and front office believe that Coleman can develop into that, then check that off the list. The final issue that I see for the Brown is overall depth. Injuries are tough enough for teams to deal with let alone when you do not have the proper depth to replace that player.

With all of that known, the Browns have the opportunity to sign a solid, young, growing offensive tackle. Cameron Fleming has spent the past four years with the Patriots after being drafted in the 4th round in 2014.

Fleming is a 6-5, 323 lbs and only 25 years old. He came out of Stanford, where he excelled and won multiple honors in all three season he played. While there has never been an opportunity for Fleming to be the sole starter in New England, he has shown to be a consistent and reliable plug and play back up for the Patriots.

The key for Fleming was the ability to play any position the team needed him to. In 2015, he spent time playing left tackle, left guard, right tackle and tight end. The time at tight end was in heavier run sets as an extra blocker. This is a strong part of Fleming’s game and the Browns could take advantage of if they offer him a role.

Due to injury, Fleming was able to play in both of the last two Super Bowls, where he stepped in and played well. Over the past three season, Fleming has seen 18 total starts. He ended this season starting the last six games, plus the extra three playoff games.

I think the Browns should target Fleming because he can add depth and flexibility to this position group. While I would sign him to be our starting right tackle, I would also have a plan for him to take over for Thomas. With his experience at multiple positions, even if he signed as a reserve, the knowledge to play all positions outside of center cannot go without notice.

The Browns could get Fleming at a decent price and they have more money than anyone so if offering him a higher contract could pay big dividends – I am all in.

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