It’s no secret — the Cleveland Browns are looking to improve on the defensive side of the ball this season. So what better way than landing a former Defensive Player of the Year in New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Gilmore’s name is being mentioned in trade rumors due to his contract, which he has one-year left on at $7 million. It’s clear the 31-year-old wants a new deal and the Patriots might not be the team that wants to give it to him, prompting trade calls.
In an article laying out some realistic trades for the offseason, PFF’s Brad Spielberger has Gilmore landing with the Browns for a third and sixth-round pick. Cleveland will be among the teams will the most remaining cap space this offseason and would have to give Gilmore a new deal to make it more than a 1-year rental.
Browns Relying on Oft-Injured Greedy Williams, Denzel Ward
The Browns currently have cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams penciled atop the depth chart in Cleveland. Ward — who was a Pro Bowler as a rookie — is one of the best cover corners in the league when healthy, but he’s had some issues staying on the field, missing nine games through his first three seasons.
“I feel like I have grown quite well as a player this year in various things technique-wise, my playing ability on the field or whatever and just being there for my guys,” Ward said after the season ended. “I feel like I have grown quite well.”
Cleveland also has Williams in their arsenal, although the 2019 second-round pick missed the entirety of last season due to nerve issues in his shoulder. Williams did, however, show promise as a rookie, starting all 12 of the games he played in.
While the Browns expect Williams back next season, his situation is shaky, at best. On top of that, veteran backups Terrance Mitchell and Kevin Johnson are pending free agents.
As the article points out, Williams, Ward and Gilmore are all outside cornerbacks, but there could be a solution if the former DPOY is willing to spend some time at slot-corner, where he has been among the best in the league.
“Perhaps Cleveland can convince Gilmore to play outside in base personnel and move inside when in nickel, still paying him what he wants and potentially avoiding a Darrelle Revis situation, where the wheels just absolutely fell off in his final seasons,” Spielberger wrote.”
Browns GM: ‘You Can Never Have Enough Corners’
The Browns have been linked to veteran cornerback Richard Sherman this offseason and are in pursuit of another former Defensive Player of the Year in pass-rusher JJ Watt.
With pending free agents and the injury issues the Browns dealt with last season, the team wants to stay “deep” at the position, per general manager Andrew Berry.
“In terms of the position, you can never have enough corners. You really can’t, especially in this defense,” Berry said at the end of last season. “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.”
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