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Analyzing the WRs: Browns rallied, tapped into depth after Odell Beckham Jr.'s season-ending injury

Cleveland didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver but it got major contributions from the team’s pass-catchers

The offseason is officially underway, and free agency is just around the corner. Until then, we'll be putting the Browns' current roster through a thorough, position by position review.

Next up: The wide receivers

The Raw Numbers

Passing offense - 221.1 yards per game (24th in NFL)

Touchdown catches - 27 (Tied for 14th in NFL)

Jarvis Landry - 72 rec., 840 yards, 3 TDs

Rashard Higgins - 37 rec., 599 yards, 4 TDs

Odell Beckham Jr. - 23 rec., 319 yards, 3 TDs

Donovan Peoples-Jones - 14 rec., 304 yards, 2 TDs

KhaDarel Hodge - 11 rec., 180 yards

Ja'Marcus Bradley - 5 rec., 60 yards

Marvin Hall - 1 rec., 12 yards

Analysis in 150 Words or Less

The Browns didn't spread the field with four or five wide receivers the way they did in previous seasons, but this group was vital to the team's offensive success, particularly during the second half of the season, when the passing game took off. That's when Landry really hit his stride on the way to leading the team in receiving for a third straight year. And that's when the Browns, after losing Beckham to a season-ending injury, tapped into their depth and were uplifted by strong performances from Higgins and Peoples-Jones, both of whom were healthy scratches early in the season. Make no mistake: The Browns never truly replaced the brilliance and down-field threat of Beckham, who was at the center of some of the team's most explosive plays during the first half of the season. It was simply encouraging to see the next men up deliver the way they did.

Number of Significance

110 - That's how many consecutive games Landry has caught at least two passes, marking the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Antonio Brown (124). Landry is just 37 away from hitting the all-time record, which is held by Hall of Famer Tim Brown. Landry finished 2020 strong, catching at least five passes in five straight games — the fourth such streak of his decorated career.

Low Point

This one's unfortunately a very easy one to pick for this position group. Less than 24 hours before the Browns' Week 16 game against the Jets, the team learned its top four receivers — Landry, Higgins, Hodge and Peoples-Jones — would be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and would not be able to play. That left the Browns with just Bradley, Hall and Derrick Willies, none of whom had previously caught a pass for Cleveland in 2020. The Browns' offense struggled and Cleveland suffered an unexpected setback against one of the league's worst teams. This was especially tough on Landry, who had never missed a game in his career up to this point.

High Point

Cleveland's wide receivers played a big part in the Browns' best first half in franchise history. Landry, Higgins and Peoples-Jones all caught touchdown passes and were the chief contributors to the team's 290 yards through the air in the first 30 minutes of the Browns' memorable, Week 13 triumph at Tennessee. Higgins and Peoples-Jones each finished with more than 90 receiving yards, the bulk of Peoples-Jones' coming on a 75-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Landry was methodical as always, catching eight passes for 62 yards and a touchdown. It was a day the Browns couldn't be stopped through the air, and Cleveland's trio of pass-catchers was a big reason why.

What They Said

"I feel like that is part of the reason why I was brought here. For me, just whatever it takes to help his team. I do not really care if it is running my route, being decoy or blocking or whatever it is or whatever it takes for the team. Obviously in those situations, I do want the ball in my hands and I do want the opportunity to make up those types of plays. They count on me, the offense counts on me, to make those plays." — Landry

"I do think that there is an element of our offense just evolved over the course of the year. Part of that is just chemistry, time on task or you name it. That is really independent of Odell. I have said it multiple times, Odell is a good football player. He acclimated nicely with our program, with Kevin and with his teammates. Quite honestly, I just want as many good football players on the roster as possible. He is dynamic." — EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry

Nathan Zegura's Take

"While we've seen some continuity in other position groups, this is one where there are actually some questions with what things will look like in 2021 … This is the one room on offense where there could be some changes. The big question revolves around Hollywood Higgins, the pending free agent who has been nothing but great with Baker Mayfield."

Who's Back for 2021?

Landry, Beckham and Peoples-Jones are all under contract for next season. So, too, are Bradley, Alexander Hollins, Ryan Switzer and Derrick Willies.

Who's a Potential Free Agent?

Higgins is the biggest unrestricted free agent from the group. JoJo Natson and Taywan Taylor, both of whom were lost to season-ending injuries, are also unrestricted free agents. Hodge is a restricted free agent.

Check out the best 100 photos from this season by the Browns photo team