The top and middle of the Cleveland Browns depth chart are pretty well set. The Browns believe that general manager Andrew Berry has put together a playoff-quality roster and that head coach Kevin Stefanski can help rev up the offense and guide the Browns back to the postseason.
If only Berry’s and Stefanski’s summer breaks were about playing board games and long walks on the beach.
The Browns expect to find out in the coming weeks if their new quarterback, Deshaun Watson, will be suspended for the start of the season (or longer) for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Watson completed a three-day disciplinary hearing last week with the NFL, the NFL Players Association and a mutually agreed-upon arbiter — former federal judge Sue L. Robinson.
With Watson’s status uncertain — presumably until at least the July 11 deadline for final filings to Robinson — let’s turn our attention to the dangling roster questions. The Cleveland passing game got a significant remake and there are significant questions both on and off the field in those spots, but most of the rest of the roster returns intact. The Browns remade their defense ahead of the 2021 season and feel like that project succeeded. They wouldn’t have made the Watson trade if they didn’t feel the roster was strong enough to win now and in the future.
For this exercise, though, we’re moving on from the Watson guessing game. Of course the quarterback matters, so we’ll explore the depth chart and some long-term concerns. But the focus will be more on the big picture with the roster and less on upcoming camp battles. Given the returnees at the top of the depth chart, there may not be many real positional competitions or roster surprises.
Full training camp is scheduled to begin July 27, three days before the Browns hold their first practice that’s open to the public. As we wait on that and a Watson ruling, here are the aforementioned roster questions:
How much can continuity help?
For the first time since Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn were in the quarterback room together, the Browns have the same head coach and general manager back for their third seasons. It’s the first time in the team’s new era that all of the coordinators have concurrently made it to a third season. So while there have been some pretty significant roster changes and there remains major uncertainty at the game’s most important position, the Browns finally can build on what they like without blowing everything up.