The new league year is 28 days away, which means the Browns have about a month until 26 players on their roster are eligible to receive contract offers from other teams.
That's the number of upcoming free agents the Browns currently have on their roster. 15 of those 26 are unrestricted free agents, meaning they can sign with any team as soon as the league calendar turns over on March 16. Five are restricted free agents, which means they can sign an offer sheet with another team that the Browns can match with an offer of their own. The other six players left are exclusive rights free agents, which means they can only sign with the Browns unless the team decides not to tender a qualifying offer to them by March 16.
We'll be breaking down all angles of the upcoming free agency period in the next month, starting with this list of Browns players currently set to hit the market. Any of these players, however, are eligible to re-sign with the Browns now before free agency officially begins
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
(These players are free to sign anywhere when the new league year commences March 16)
DE Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney's signing was one of the biggest moves around the league last offseason as it paired the 2014 first overall pick with Myles Garrett, the 2017 first overall pick. Clowney garnered nine sacks and recorded his best (and healthiest) season in the league since 2018, and his presence created mismatches as offenses double-teamed him and Garrett, a 2021 All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler who set the franchise sack record last season with 16 sacks.
LB Anthony Walker Jr.
Walker was the leading tackler on defense and one of the most outspoken, trusted players in the locker room. The Browns brought him to Cleveland on a one-year deal last offseason because of his reliable tackling and leadership, which included wearing the green helmet sticker and relaying play calls to the rest of the defense. Walker also recorded 113 tackles, the third time in his five-year career he's eclipsed the 100-mark in a season.
TE David Njoku
Njoku, a 2017 first overall pick, enjoyed his best season since 2018 — he led all receivers with four touchdowns and led the tight ends with 475 receiving yards. Njoku is only 25 but has already spent five years in the league and has been commended by coaches for taking big strides as a blocker over the last two years. He still hasn't hit his prime.
DT Malik Jackson
Jackson was signed last offseason to be a reliable, experienced and big piece of the defensive tackle rotation. The 10-year veteran played in all but one game for the Browns and amassed 25 tackles and four pass breakups, his highest total since 2016.
S Ronnie Harrison Jr.
Harrison recorded 58 tackles, one interception and three pass breakups and played in over 90 percent of defensive snaps in eight of his 12 games. The 2018 third-round pick, who joined Cleveland in a trade with Jacksonville in 2020, missed five games and only played in single-digit snaps in two others due to an ejection in Week 1 and an injury in Week 4, but he led the Browns with 14 tackles and snagged an interception in his final game against the Ravens in Week 12.
T Chris Hubbard
Hubbard, an eight-year veteran, was the Browns' primary swing tackle option before he suffered a season-ending triceps injury in Week 1. He's spent the last four years with the Browns and is capable of playing both tackle and guard positions.
DE Takkarist McKinley
McKinley joined the Browns on a one-year deal last March and contributed 18 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one forced fumble. The 2017 first-round pick suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against the Raiders in Week 15.
WR Rashard Higgins
Higgins registered 24 catches for 275 yards and one touchdown in his sixth season in Cleveland. He's been with the Browns ever since they drafted him in the fifth round in 2016.
DB MJ Stewart Jr.
Stewart, a 2018 second-round pick from Tampa Bay who joined Cleveland via waivers in 2020, built the best season of his four-year career with a career-high 47 tackles, four pass breakups and one forced fumble. Much of that production was achieved in the final five games, when Stewart started three times and was one of the Browns' best defensive players in that stretch.
LB Malcolm Smith
Smith, a 10-year veteran, spent his second consecutive year in Cleveland and totaled 51 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions, tying his career-high from 2013. He's provided valuable leadership to a linebackers room that has always contained young players since his arrival.
DT Sheldon Day
Day is a six-year veteran who played seven games and had an increasingly larger role in the DT rotation in the final half of the season. He recorded 21 tackles and one sack and played in over 20 percent of defensive snaps in six of the last nine games.
P Dustin Colquitt
The 17-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler joined the Browns for the final five games of the season and averaged 41.5 yards per punt. The Browns were Colquitt's fourth team in the last two years.
WR Ryan Switzer
Switzer had a shot at landing a job as a returner and providing receiver depth for the Browns before he suffered a season-ending foot injury in training camp. He has 67 punt returns for 527 yards (eight yards per return) and one touchdown and 63 kick returns for 1,373 yards (21.8 yards per return) in 41 career games.
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo
Odenigbo joined the Browns in September and registered 13 tackles in nine games. The four-year veteran didn't record a sack in 2021 but had 10.5 sacks in the previous two seasons.
LB Elijah Lee
Lee has been a core special teams player since his arrival in Cleveland in October 2020. He played in all but one game in 2021 and totaled 15 tackles.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
(These players are free to sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Browns have the right to match such an offer)
RB D'Ernest Johnson
Johnson built the best season of his three-year career, one that comes with a remarkable start after he was undrafted, with 100 carries for 534 yards and three touchdowns in addition to 19 receptions for 137 yards. His first career start in Week 7 featured 146 rushing yards and one touchdown, and he topped 100 yards again when he took 25 carries in Week 18.
TE Stephen Carlson
Carlson was placed on injured reserve last August but has been a reliable special teams player since he arrived in Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He has six career catches for 51 yards and one touchdown over the last three years.
K Chase McLaughlin
McLaughlin converted 15 of 21 field goal attempts and 36 of 37 extra-point attempts in 2021, his first full season with the same NFL team since his career began in 2019.
QB Nick Mullens
Mullens started one game for the Browns in Week 15 when positive COVID-19 tests forced Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum to be out. He completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 147 yards and one touchdown with an 89.2 passer rating.
DE Porter Gustin
Gustin totaled nine tackles and had one fumble recovery in six games. He has 52 career tackles, one sack and four QB hits in 26 games.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
(These players can only sign with the Browns, unless the team decides not to tender a qualifying offer to them by March 16)
T Blake Hance
Hance was active for all 17 games and started eight games split between both tackle positions due to injuries to Jedrick Wills Jr., Jack Conklin and Hubbard. He allowed four sacks in 644 total snaps.
T Michael Dunn
Dunn started two games when the Browns were hit hard from COVID-19 positive tests in Weeks 15-16. He allowed two sacks in 128 total snaps.
DT Malik McDowell
McDowell played 15 games and recorded 33 tackles and three sacks. He was arrested, however, in Florida on Jan. 17.
WR Ja'Marcus Bradley
Bradley, an undrafted free agent who signed with the Browns in 2020, has floated between the practice squad and active roster the last two seasons. He has nine career receptions for 124 yards.
RB Dexter Williams
Williams was signed to the active roster on Jan. 5 and then placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He has seven career carries for 19 yards, all with the Packers, who drafted him in the sixth round in 2019.
LB Montrel Meander
Meander has bounced around from the practice squad and the active roster since August 2019 and has mostly been a special teams player when active. He was placed on injured reserve, however, last August.
Check out the best photos from the 2021 season by the Browns photo team