A breakdown of the initial wave of free agency for the Cleveland Browns:
Overall grade: B. A winless team needed a lot of help, and the Browns took advantage of the salary cap money they had and added three significant players via trade and nine more via free agency. Among them are starting and backup quarterbacks, starting receiver, starting safety, starting right tackle and possibly two starting cornerbacks. The grade isn’t higher only because the most impactful players the Browns added came through trade.
Most significant signing: He came in a flurry of trades the Browns completed before free agency, but quarterback Tyrod Taylor brings more certainty to the position than the Browns have had in years. Taylor threw 51 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions in his three seasons as the starter in Buffalo, and the Browns quickly said that Taylor is the team’s starting quarterback in 2018. He is not a superstar, but he is a good player who drew the Browns' interest in 2017 before he agreed to stay in Buffalo. Taylor will hold the position for at least one season, and if he plays well he has the chance to hold on longer.
Most significant loss: The most significant loss in free agency was a given, as running back Isaiah Crowell and the team were ready for a fresh start from each other. In that regard, Crowell going to the Jets isn’t that significant, especially because the Browns added Carlos Hyde to replace him. The trade of quarterback DeShone Kizer to Green Bay for safety Damarious Randall was a bit of a surprise only because the team seemed committed to giving Kizer more time to grow. Instead, they will use Drew Stanton as the backup to go with a drafted rookie and Taylor.
Player they should have signed: There was one left tackle worth pursuing on the market, and that was Nate Solder. The Browns and Joe Thomas both said the team was kept apprised of Thomas’ plans, which means the Browns knew they’d need a left tackle to try to replace Thomas. Solder could have stepped right in. Instead, the Browns have a glaring need there with less talented players and possibly a draft pick having to step in. Solder would have immediately taken over as the starter.
What’s next: The Browns’ attention now turns to the draft, where they have the first and fourth overall picks. That gives them the chance to take the quarterback of their choosing and another player with great potential. The biggest decision the Browns have to make: will it be Sam Darnold or Josh Allen with the first overall pick?
Additions: Tyrod Taylor, QB (trade); Drew Stanton, QB; Carlos Hyde, RB; Jarvis Landry, WR (trade); Darren Fells, TE; Chris Hubbard, RT; Donald Stephenson, OT; Chris Smith, DE; TJ Carrie, CB; Terrance Mitchell, CB; E.J. Gaines, CB; Damarious Randall, S (trade).
Losses (by release/trade/signed elsewhere): Isaiah Crowell, RB; Joe Thomas, LT (retired); DeShone Kizer, QB (traded); Danny Shelton, DT (traded).