Thanks to an overflowing amount of questions, we’re knocking out one more Browns Mailbag before training camp gets underway Thursday.
Until the start of the season, the Browns Mailbag will run on the team’s days off.
Will Kareem Hunt be a restricted free agent next year or unrestricted? Did he accrue enough games played? -- Gurjit S., Rocklin, California
According to Spotrac.com, Hunt, who signed a one-year deal with the Browns in February, is poised to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. That’s due in part because he’s poised to have three accrued seasons at that point. An accrued season is obtained after a player spends six or more regular season games on a team’s active/inactive, reserved/injured or reserve/physically unable to perform lists.
John Dorsey found some talent in the fourth round last year in Antonio Callaway and perhaps in Sheldrick Redwine and Jhavonte Dean? Could we see Dean play some free safety and Redwine play strong safety as reserves this year? -- Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia
For clarity purposes, Redwine was the Browns’ fourth-round pick, selected 119th overall, while Dean, a teammate of Redwine’s at the University of Miami, went undrafted and unsigned before making the 90-man roster as a tryout player. Considering their respective paths to Cleveland, Redwine’s route to a 53-man roster spot probably has fewer hurdles. Odds are, he’ll emerge -- at the least -- as a valuable, every-unit player on the Browns’ special teams while competing for playing time on defense. Dean, meanwhile, has simply made a ton of plays since impressing coaches during his rookie tryout. The odds are long as he vies for a roster spot among a deep group of Browns cornerbacks, but he’s already overcome plenty to even nab a spot on the 90-man roster. And, for what it’s worth, Dean worked exclusively as a cornerback during the spring.
"It's a blessing to be a part of the 90-man roster, but I've got bigger goals," Dean said in May. “I want to make the 53-man roster. Take it one day at a time, just keep staying in my playbook, keep going out there every day and grinding. Just running to the ball and hustling and show the coach I want to be here."
The Browns roster in headshots
Do the high expectations of the team scare you? -- Oscar H., Silver Spring, Maryland
Disregarding potential injuries in camp and preseason, do you think Terrance Mitchell can hold off the other corners for the second CB spot, or will we see Greedy Williams or an off-the-radar corner starting Week 1? -- Ryan R., Youngstown
There aren’t as many starting position battles to analyze at this year’s training camp as there have been in years’ past. That’s a very good thing. It’s also a good thing Williams, Cleveland’s second-round pick, inserted himself in the conversation as a legitimate threat to start after a strong performance during the team’s offseason workout program. Williams received plenty of reps with the first-team defense during the minicamp portion and even nabbed a pick-six. It’s important to remember nothing at all was settled in the spring. The next few weeks will mean everything.
“Once we start getting into the meat and potatoes of everything, we'll be able to know more,” defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker said. “But I'm happy with (Williams’) progress right now in terms of understanding and learning and trying to execute the techniques that he needs to perfect."
Outside of right guard, this is arguably one of the most intriguing position competitions on the entire team. Unlike right guard, though, there might not be a clear-cut end result because of the flexibility and versatility Cleveland likes to have with its defensive backs. That’s why a player like T.J. Carrie shouldn’t be forgotten when “starters” are discussed at cornerback. Odds are, the Browns will be playing three or even four cornerbacks the majority of the snaps. Carrie primarily lined up at nickel with the first-team defense throughout the spring and, as he showed last year, has the ability to line up on the outside and play at a high level. The best possible outcome to this competition is identifying four players Cleveland would feel comfortable starting on the outside on an every-snap basis and filling out with the room with quality depth players who can also give the team quality snaps on defense and special teams.
Is Derrick Willies still in the mix at wide receiver? He looked good last year in preseason and then began making strides in the regular season until he was injured. -- Bill T., Medina
Yes, Willies is very much in the mix at wide receiver as he looks to grab a spot in one of the team’s most talented position rooms. Feasibly, Cleveland has one or two spots available if you’re assuming Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins are locked into their roles. Willies, who impressed in Cleveland’s Week 5 overtime win over the Ravens before seeing his season come to an unfortunate end because of a practice injury, is tall, athletic and proved to be valuable on special teams. That will go a long way in his pursuit of a roster spot as he competes against the likes of Damion Ratley, Ishmael Hyman, Jaelen Strong and more.
The annual Orange & Brown Scrimmage will take place on August 3rd at FirstEnergy Stadium. Click for information and tickets.