Browns Mailbag

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Browns Mailbag: Gregg Williams' impact, scouring the free agent market and more

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Since the Browns hired Gregg Williams as DC, could that lead to trying to sign free agents like Trumaine Johnson and T.J. McDonald? -- Marqus F., Princeton, Minnesota

If either of the player fits what the Browns, as an entire organization, believe will put them in a better position to win, then they'd certainly be considered. Johnson could be one of the top-paid free agents of the entire offseason and McDonald has proven to be a solid, reliable safety in a hard-hitting Rams defense. Scanning the Browns roster pre-draft, it would appear safety is a bigger area of need than cornerback. Whether or not the Browns choose to be appropriately aggressive with either player won't be known until March 9.

Will Desmond Bryant be a factor on the Browns D next season? Or just depth? Gone? -- P.J. R., Catonsville, Maryland

Bryant was supposed to be one of the core pieces of Cleveland's defense in 2016 but an unfortunate offseason injury prevented him from ever seeing the field. He's been working to get back to full strength and appears poised to return at full strength for the upcoming year. At 31 years old, Bryant still has some good football ahead of him, and the hope is for him to return at the level he last played in 2015, when he was arguably one of the team's best defensive players.

I know we need more offensive line in the draft but what has happened with Drango and Coleman. Was it growing pains for them, too? -- Jeffrey B., Springfield

As we documented in our position review series, only a handful of offensive linemen played more than Drango in 2016. He was seemingly the only interior lineman who was able to stave off the injury bug, and he mostly filled in for Joel Bitonio at left guard. He logged nine starts and saw the field in all 16 games. His future is likely at left or right guard, but he also has experience at tackle. In an ideal world, he would have gained experience as the first lineman off the bench but injuries forced him into the starting five. He held his own and gained valuable experience because of it.

As for Coleman, he was used sparingly throughout the year and only had a handful of snaps at right tackle before receiving extended action in the season finale. The learning curve was steep for the third-round pick, who was sidelined during OTAs as he recovered from an injury and came from an Auburn offense that differed greatly from the pro-style attack of the Browns. He showed some promise against the Steelers, leveling a defender on a long Isaiah Crowell run, and the hope is for him to make a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2.

Cleveland has been below the salary cap for the last two years.  Will they ever spend this money on free agents to get some veterans and lock down some positions so we aren't looking for an entire 53-position team of rookies each year? -- Ron E., Kaukauna, Wisconsin The Browns have made their free agent strategy clear since the end of the season. They'll be "appropriately aggressive," meaning they'll use the cap space they have to find the right players at the right price. Before free agency opens in early March, the focus centers on retaining the talent that is valued on the current roster.

Do you think the lack of run plays called this year were due to the fact of Hue wanting to save Duke and Crow's legs and health for the coming years when it will be more meaningful? I am saying Hue knew this season was a learning experience, so why risk getting them hurt/wear/tear on body when they will be important in the future success. -- Cameron C., Akron

I think you're overthinking this one. Week after week, Jackson made decisions that gave the team the best chance to win. His focus was on that particular Sunday, nothing else. As for the perceived lack of carries, the reason centers on the fact that the Browns were, unfortunately, faced with double-digit deficits more than they'd prefer. The flow of the game rarely worked in the favor of establishing a ground-and-pound, milk-the-clock approach. And, simply put, the Browns had too many three-and-outs.

The hope moving forward, of course, is to be in a situation where Crowell and Johnson are receiving more carries because that means the team will be winning more.

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