Browns Mailbag

Browns Mailbag: What's next in the roster construction process for 2021?

Senior Writer Andrew Gribble answers your questions every week

It's hard to believe there's no game to cover this weekend, but we're in full appreciation mode of what the Browns accomplished in 2020.

This is also a good time to thank those who continue to follow our coverage at ClevelandBrowns.com. We hope you had as much fun reading and watching our content throughout the season as we did creating it.

We'd love nothing more than if you flooded the mailbag with questions focused on the offseason so we have plenty to work with in the coming months.

Who are the Browns' free agents for this year? — Bob V., Greenville

We'll go much more in-depth on this topic in the coming weeks and months, but here's the initial rundown of players set for unrestricted free agency, restricted free agency and exclusive rights free agency. Of note, the Browns have 16 players set to hit unrestricted free agency.

Unrestricted

LB B.J. Goodson

WR Marvin Hall

WR Rashard Higgins

CB Kevin Johnson

S Karl Joseph

T Kendall Lamm

LB Elijah Lee

CB Terrance Mitchell

WR JoJo Natson

DT Larry Ogunjobi

K Cody Parkey

S Andrew Sendejo

LB Malcolm Smith

WR Taywan Taylor

DT Vincent Taylor

DE Olivier Vernon

Restricted

LB Tae Davis

WR KhaDarel Hodge

CB Tavierre Thomas

Exclusive Rights

TE Stephen Carlson

DE Porter Gustin

Are the players who opted out this year automatically returned to the roster now? Also please explain the reserve/futures contracts and practice squad. Are the reserve/futures in a better position now? — Jim K., Easton, Maryland

Players who opted out for the 2020 season automatically return to the roster on the first day of the new league year (March 17). For the Browns, that means the return of five players: G Drew Forbes, G Colby Gossett, G Malcolm Pridgeon, T Drake Dorbeck and DT Andrew Billings.

Players who sign reserve/futures contracts become a part of the 90-man roster after the Super Bowl. The practice squad goes away after the Super Bowl, so any player listed in that group becomes a free agent after the big game.

Emmanuel Ogbah was a fan favorite and a second-round draft choice of the Browns in 2016. He had a successful season with the Dolphins as their starting defensive end. He was traded after the Browns made the deal with the Giants. After winning this season, will the Browns make strides toward developing their own players? — Rob M., Charleston, West Virginia

That is always the goal, and it becomes a more achievable one when there's the kind of stability the Browns will have moving into the 2021 season. As Kevin Stefanski said Wednesday on Cleveland Browns Daily, "continuity is important, and winning allows that."

Sometimes, though, a change of scenery is what a player needs, and Ogbah has certainly benefited from it. The same can be said for a number of players on Cleveland's current roster, such as G Wyatt Teller, S Ronnie Harrison Jr., WR KhaDarel Hodge, CB Kevin Johnson, LB B.J. Goodson and more.

With the early season injury issues in our defensive backfield, should we be looking to draft a safety or DB high or do we believe our current talent is enough once they get healthy? — Ben R., Columbus

There are a bunch of unknowns at this point in the process with Cleveland's defensive backfield, but the injury issues probably aren't near the top of the list. As mentioned above, four key contributors from the 2020 secondary — Mitchell, Joseph, Sendejo and Johnson — are set to be free agents. Mitchell and Sendejo, in particular, played nearly every snap this season. We'll have to see what that unit looks like after the first couple of weeks of free agency before declaring how hard and when the Browns may have to address it in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Either way, the Browns are always looking.

"You can never have enough corners," Browns EVP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry said. "You really can't, especially in this defense. That is always an area that we will want to be deep going into the year. They are hard to find, but it is obviously an area that we want to continue to be deep."

In regards to Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams, both of whom missed the 2020 season, the Browns are optimistic about their health and are expecting both to be contributors.

"You never know with significant injuries how that ultimately unfolds," Berry said. "The one thing I can tell you about Grant and Greedy is the way that those two have attacked their approach to rehab and staying engaged with the team and really they have prepared every week as if they were going to play even when it became obvious that they were not, I am very optimistic and very bullish on their physical recovery and then ultimately, when they do get back, of being able to play at a high level for us."

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