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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jacob Roach

Which pending free agents could make the Browns offense more potent?

The Cleveland Browns experienced highs and there were lows when talking about the 2022 season. Early on in the season, they exceeded expectations but as the season went on and Deshaun Watson returned to the field, they left something to be desired on the field. If they want to improve and be one of the league’s best they have to find a way to get more explosive. While there are certain changes to be made defensively in free agency, the offense is not perfect either.

All season long the team struggled to be able to overcome negative plays and penalties on drives. If they were behind schedule and had a third and long there wasn’t a good chance they could convert. Here is a look at some pending free agents that could make the offense more consistent in 2023.

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DJ Chark, WR, Detroit Lions

Browns FA target D.J. Chark. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Lions wide receiver DJ Chark possesses a rare combination of size and speed that creates favorable matchups for offenses. Over his five-year NFL career, Chark has averaged 14.4 yards per reception with a career-long reception of 73 yards.

The salary shouldn’t be astronomical as Chark has a history of missing some time with injury. However, he would provide the Browns with the missing piece of their offense, a guy that can get vertical and win over the top with great speed consistently. With a vertical threat on the field players like Amari Cooper and David Njoku would get more chances underneath.

Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Browns FA target Evan Engram. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
Evan Engram was overall underwhelming after being a first-round pick for the New York Giants in 2017. He struggled at times with drops and inconsistency overall which lead the Giants to let him walk. But in his first season in Jacksonville Engram showed why he was a first-round pick with great upside at the position.

This season he finished with 73 receptions for 766 yards and four touchdowns with only three drops. The skill set of Engram next to David Njoku would provide plenty of mismatch opportunities in the passing game that would be fun to watch.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

Browns FA target Sterling Shepard. Nfl Ny Giants Vs Dallas Cowboys Cowboys At Giants

One concern with signing Sterling Shepard is that he is coming off an ACL tear that happened early in the season. There is a chance that he would be ready by the season starting since the injury took place in the first month of the year. But when healthy Shepard is a quick and explosive player that makes defenses respect his ability to get deep.

Coming off injury could lead Shepard as another player that might not cost much money and he could be seeking a short prove-it deal. Signing someone like Shepard short-term while drafting the long-term answer at the position as the explosive option.

Jordan Akins, TE, Houston Texans

Browns FA target Jordan Akins. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It was not a good season for the Houston Texans and the quarterback situation was awful. One of the bright spots from the team was the play of tight end Jordan Akins. PFF gave Akins a 72.4 overall grade for the tight end who had 37 receptions for 495 yards and five touchdowns.

The Browns struggled to get production out of the tight end position outside of starter David Njoku. Though the team is likely to pass at a higher rate next season they will still need tight-end production in both phases of the game. Akins provides a great security blanket and a big red zone target at 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds.

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