Cleveland is in need of a receiver now that the NFL draft is behind us. The Browns will have Greg Little, Nate Burleson, and Andrew Hawkins as the top guys. We are in possession of inexperienced talent such as Josh Cooper and Armanti Edwards. Don’t forget, Travis Benjamin is still a Clevelander despite coming out of an ACL tear. Browns front office quickly reacted signing undrafted wide outs including Chandler Jones, Willie Snead, Jonathan Krause, and Kenny Shaw.
Regardless of a large pool of candidates, the Browns remain thin at the position. Free agency gives another opportunity to address team needs. Solid salary cap casualties, veteran receivers linger out there waiting for a chance and a phone call. The top free agents out there include Santonio Holmes, Miles Austin, Danario Alexander, and Earl Bennett.
First on the list would be Holmes due to possessing the most upside. Everyone remembers the Ohio State alumni snatching one of the greatest Super Bowl catches of all time. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl XLIII most valuable player has been hampered by injuries the last two years, missing most of 2012 with a Lisfranc injury and trampling through 2013 with foot and hamstring issues. Despite health complications, Holmes owns a 15.7 yards per reception average and racked up 456 yards on just 23 catches last season.
If you accept the good, you must accept the bad. Holmes can be described as, “a cancer. It’s like dealing with a ten year old kid,” as an anonymous teammate put it. Holmes definitely has character concerns that are not worth introducing to this team. The Florida native can remain productive, but with the wrong attitude, won’t be the player he was in the past.
Next on the list would be Miles Austin, former Dallas Cowboy. Austin also arrives with health issues as a nagging hamstring limited the wide out to 11 games during the 2013 campaign. While enduring a Bryant-Witten focused offense, Austin only managed 24 catches for 244 yards without reaching the end zone once. Despite being a lackluster statistic, I believe the New Jersey native can produce given the right opportunity.
The two time Pro Bowler is only one year removed from a 66 catch, 943 yard season. Austin would bring over 4,000 career yards and 34 touchdowns. The undrafted wide out averages 14.9 yards a reception.
In similar fashion, Danario Alexander sports a 16.8 yard average, increasing his 2010 average of 15.3 yards to 17.8 yards in 2012. The 6’5” Texas native’s best season was in San Diego in 2012 posting 658 yards and seven scores in only ten games. Despite phenomenal stats, the five year veteran has battled left knee injuries since college and recently torn his right ACL. Red flags cloud the air when thinking of signing Alexander, due to the risk involved with committing to a contract.
On the contrary, to all previously mentioned receivers, Earl Bennett is the healthiest option. Reports have confirmed the signing of Bennett to Cleveland but, the Browns haven’t reaffirmed those reports yet. So who is Earl Bennett?
Bennett is a 6’0” wide out drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft by the Chicago Bears. The 27 year old enrolled at Vanderbilt before spending a seven year career in Chicago. Disregarding Bennett’s career stats of 12 touchdowns, 2,000 plus yards, and a 12.3 yard average, the receiver can be successful. The Alabama native experienced a drop in production with the emergence of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
In conclusion, there are numerous receivers out there waiting to prove themselves. Some candidates are unproven while some are questionable considerations. Cleveland made a smart choice counting on Earl Bennett, but who knows, Cleveland might not stop there with all the possibilities that exist.
Image Credited to: www.blogs.suntimes.com