Browns training camp practices start on Friday, August 14, so where does the Browns roster stand prior to practice? As of this article, the Browns have no players on the Reserve/Covid-19 list. Punter Jamie Gilliam, quarterback Garrett Gilbert, running back Dontrell Hilliard, safety Jovante Moffatt and wide receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley were all activated to the roster. Two players are on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP), WR Jarvis Landry and S Karl Joseph. Where the Browns took the biggest hit was on the NFL opt-out list. Five Browns players opted out for the 2020 season, second-most in the NFL, trailing only the New England Patriots who had eight. Offensive line depth was the biggest victim. Offensive guards Drew Forbes, Colby Gossett, Malcolm Pridgeon and offensive tackle Drake Dorbeck. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings also opted out.
Players who opt out of the 2020 season receive $350,000 if they are considered high risk for COVID and $150,000 if they are not. NFL players can still opt-out during the season if they have a special exemption. Examples would be if a family member dies of Covid-19 or if a player or a family member of a player is diagnosed with a disease that weakens their immune system. If a player opts out, their contract rolls over to next season, including their signing bonus. The Browns roster currently sits at 79 and according to http://www.overthecap.com the Browns salary cap is $40.8 million. With these players opting out, what area does GM Andrew Berry need to focus on? Offensive guard.
The Browns have eleven offensive linemen on the current roster. Ideally, an NFL team would carry a first-team OL and a second-team OL, with two to five backups on the roster and practice squad. That would be thirteen to fifteen linemen. The Browns only have two true guards on the roster, Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Centers fifth-round draft pick Nick Harris, former Miami Dolphin Evan Brown and Willie Wright could move inside and play some OG. However, this would weaken the center positional depth. Harris is considered too light to currently play guard. Offensive tackle Chris Hubbard played guard as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but he is currently the Browns potential backup guard.
So who could the Browns possibly sign to strengthen the OG position? The logical choice would be former Vikings OG Josh Kline. The 30-year-old veteran knows the wide zone offense and could compete for the starting right guard position with Wyatt Teller. Another possibility is former Brown Kyle Kalis. Kalis spent 2018 on the Browns practice squad. If Kline would except a backup role, he would be the perfect fit for the Browns. The problem lies in that Forbes and Gossett may have made the roster.
As for defensive tackle, the Browns just need depth. After starters Sheldon Richardson, Larry Ogunjobi and third-round draft pick Jordan Elliot, the backups are Eli Ankou, Daniel Ekuale and Jeffery Whatley. Ankou is a four-year veteran, Ekuale is a two-year veteran and Whatley is an undrafted rookie free agent. Potential defensive tackles that GM Andrew Berry could sign are former Lion Mike Daniels, former Bills Corey Liuget and possibly former Jag Marcell Dareus. Former Lion Damon “Snacks” Harrison would be great, but Andrew Berry is looking for depth, not a starter. Daniels would be the perfect fit. He has the same attributes as Billings, very strong against the run and could accept a backup role.
So as the Browns enter the 2020 training camp season, GM Andrew Berry appears to have some work to do. The Browns offensive line went from a team strength to a team weakness due to lack of depth. Andrew Berry will have to address this depth prior to practice staring on Friday. Judging on how this front office has handled the offseason, Browns fans should have complete faith in Berry. This team seems to always have a plan. Why let a pandemic get in the way?