A mid-January rundown on the Cleveland Browns six upcoming unrestricted free agents, with the proviso that much can change in the next six weeks in terms of signing and re-signing players (with 2012 salary cap costs are in parantheses):
RB Willis McGahee ($489,000) -- Age has sadly crept up on McGahee, who gave everything he had but in the final couple games was replaced by Edwin Baker. McGahee is a character who would play well in a lot of cities, but his best days on the field seem behind him.
C Alex Mack ($5.03 million) -- It would seem that replacing a Pro Bowl center is not easy, but Mack is from California and the vibes as the season went on were that he would not be back. The team never made much of a move to re-sign him, and Joe Banner believes in paying certain amounts for certain positions. Center might not be a position where he wants to spend.
G Shawn Lauvao ($1.497 M) -- Lauvao seems like a guy who could be a serviceable guard, but the Browns seemed to sour on him as the year went on. Their machinations indicate Lauvao is not a priority.
G/T Oniel Cousins ($800,000) -- Good guy, interesting guy. Every team needs a guy like this, a guy who can step in and play in several spots. It does not seem Cousins will be filling that role in Cleveland any longer, though.
S T.J. Ward ($1.198 M) -- Ward is an enviable spot. He’s a Pro Bowl alternate whose physical style might fit well with several teams. San Francisco jumps out as one, and Ward might enjoy playing where he attended college. Ward does like Cleveland, though, so if the Browns make him a competitive offer he may return. But Joe Banner did not re-sign Brian Dawkins in Philadelphia. Dawkins was older than Ward and had less left, but it might indicate safety is not considered an “expensive” position.
The Browns are projected to have between $35 and $40 million in salary cap space this offseason.