April 13, 2024

With a very talented roster, there aren’t many positional battles on the 2023 Cleveland Browns. As I’ve said in past articles, 46 of the 53-man roster are basically locks, barring injury. Of the seven positions still open, the three that appear to be most important are backup running, backup offensive guards and number four defensive tackle. Here’s a breakdown:

Running Back. Nick Chubb is the obvious number one. Current backups are Jerome Ford and Demetric Felton. Others on the roster are, Hassan Hall, John Kelly and Nate McCrary. I’m sure the Browns don’t feel comfortable with Ford (2022 draft pick) and Felton (2021 draft pick) as the backups. One might have to go so the Browns can pick up a veteran. Free agents available are, Dontrell Hilliard, Kenyan Drake, J.D. McKissic and Justin Jackson. Since Ford can also return kicks, Felton appears to be the odd man out. Hall, McCrary and Kelly could pass through waivers and make the practice squad. If cut, Felton would save the Browns $819,142.00 on the cap. Justin Jackson would be a nice fit.

Offensive Guard. Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller are set in stone. Michael Dunn returns as a backup at left guard and 2022 draft pick Dawson Deaton as the backup at right guard. Others on the roster are, Drew Forbes, Colby Gossett and Wes Martin. Because Deaton was injured in training camp last year, he’s a mystery. Dunn is a four-year veteran and has played center for the Browns. The remaining three on the roster are all veterans. Forbes (four years), Gossett (four years) and Martin (five years). The battle for the last backup comes down to Dunn and Forbes. Gossett and Martin will be eligible for the practice squad. If cut, all three would give the Browns some cap savings. Forbes ($1 million in cap savings), Gossett ($940,000 in cap savings) and Martin ($940,000 in cap savings).

Defensive Tackle. Dalvin Tomlinson, Siki Iki and Jordan Elliott are roster locks. Others on the roster are Michael Dwumfour, Trysten Hill, Maurice Hurst, Tommy Togiai and Perrion Winfrey. Hill and Hurst are veterans, both are talented, but neither can stay healthy. Winfrey, a 2022 draft pick, has been a disappointment on and off the field. Togiai has been a disappointment on the field. Veterans available are Matt Ioannidis, Shelby Harris and Ndamukong Suh. If Hill or Hurst get injured during training camp, I could see the Browns signing a veteran and any of the three mentioned would be great. Togiai, Dwumfour and Winfrey could pass through waivers and make the practice squad. Ideally, I would like to see Hurst stay healthy and make the roster. Cap savings for cuts to the rest are, Hill $456,618, Togiai $432,142, Dwumfour $940,000 and Winfrey would add $146,000 to the cap.

The other two position groups that have back up battles are linebacker and safety. Linebacker will be determined if Sione Takitaki is placed on the PUP list at the beginning of the season because of his rehab from injury. That would open a roster spot early in the season. Training camp will answer some questions about these battles as players will practice at other positions. Can center Nick Harris play guard? He did in college. Players who play well on special teams well will have an advantage. Injuries in past season have shown the importance of capable backups.

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