Free Agency

NFL.com, PFF shower praise, elevate expectations for Browns after Beckham deal, first wave of free agency

The buzz around the Browns right now remains high, even as the activity slows.

Need proof? Look no further than NFL.com's army of scribes who are at a near consensus on the Browns.

Gregg Rosenthal led the charge, placing the Browns near the top of two separate pieces listing those who benefitted the most from the start of the new league year. First, Rosenthal looked at the contracts signed that he deemed to be the best from a team perspective, and to no one's surprise, Odell Beckham Jr.'s current deal made the cut.

From Rosenthal:

Odell Beckham and Michael Bennett, WR and DL, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots: I wanted to include these vastly disparate players here as a reminder that contracts accepted in trades can be bargains, too. By avoiding Beckham's big signing bonus a year ago, the Browns got even more value because they received the best part of his reasonable $90 million extension. It seems like only a matter of time until he'll require an upgrade, but the five years left on the deal means that the Browns have OBJ as long as they want him.

(Rosenthal also summed up the contracts he deemed to be the worst, and luckily, the Browns didn't land on that.)

He wasn't done at Beckham's contract, though. Rosenthal also listed the top beneficiaries from free agency from an individual perspective, and two of Cleveland's brightest young stars landed near the top.

Again, from Rosenthal:

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns: The Browns having too many mouths to feed on offense would be a hilarious "problem" for anyone who's watched the franchise this century to contemplate. It won't be a problem because of Mayfield. The addition of Odell Beckham Jr. should make everyone better, even if it doesn't show up in juiced-up stats for David Njoku, Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway. The Browns are right to bet on Mayfield making it all work, because he has the strongest personality of the group and the talent to put all his receiving options in line. GM John Dorsey might need to get creative looking for upgrades at tackle in the draft, but adding Beckham all but completes a skill-position group that tops any other football team in terms of youthful talent.

Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns: There's been so much attention paid to the Browns' offense that the loaded Cleveland defensive line has fallen under the radar. Opponents are still going to double-team Garrett. But the additions of defensive end Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to a formidable defensive line that already included Larry Ogunjobi will allow Garrett to be the leader of a greater whole. As intriguing as the Browns' offense will be to watch in 2019, this group may be leading the way.

The praise from NFL.com wasn't limited to just the writing of Rosenthal. Elliot Harrison gave Cleveland plenty of love in his first power rankings following the first wave of free agency.

Surprise! The Browns -- previously ranked No. 16 -- are in the top 10!

We'll take it one step further in the praise parade with Pro Football Focus' Sam Monson, who kept in within the NFL Media tree by going on NFL Network's Up To The Minute Live to explain how much better the Browns can be offensively with Beckham and Mayfield.

Take a look at a selection of photos of new Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr., including ones from his time with new teammate Jarvis Landry back when they both attended LSU.

"What people aren't really factoring in is how much better Odell Beckham might look with Baker Mayfield as his quarterback than he did when Eli Manning was his quarterback," Monson told NFL Network’s Patrick Claybon. ... "You're going to a situation where he's going to be seeing accurate targets so much more often than he did in New York. Then you add in all the stuff he can do with the ball in his hands, the third most broken tackles over the last five years. The guy who's second is Jarvis Landry, who is on that team as well, so you've got a real set of playmakers for the first time in a long while in Cleveland."

As Browns general manager John Dorsey said last week, no one wins in March -- they win in the fall. All of this buzz is for naught if the wins don't come as the leaves change.

But for now, in March, it sure is a good time to be a backer of the brown and orange.

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