Browns free agency: Team could lose number of defensive players
The Browns elected not to designate any of their soon-to-be free agents either as the franchise or transition players. Unless a last-minute deal is struck, several players that played with the Browns last year and earlier, will likely be playing elsewhere next year.
Four of the team’s six unrestricted free agents were drafted by the Browns, three in the 2011 NFL Draft in Jabaal Sheard (2nd), Jordan Cameron (4th) and Buster Skrine (5th). Ahtyba Rubin was drafted by the Browns in the sixth-round in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Teams and the players’ agents are allowed to begin negotiating this weekend before free agency officially kicks off on March 10.
The Browns can re-sign one of their players after they test the market, but usually the players that hit the open market end up with another team or out of the league.
Here are the Browns defensive players who are set to hit the market.
Buster Skrine– Skrine had arguably his best season with the Browns with 66 tackles, 18 passes broken up and four interceptions. He finished eighth in the league in interceptions. The Browns drafted Justin Gilbert with hopes he would win the starting cornerback position opposite of Haden to allow Skrine to move inside to the slot. However, Skrine was able to hold off all challengers Skrine was ranked as the 46th best free agent by Pro Football Talk, with seven cornerbacks listed ahead of him.
Jabaal Sheard– Sheard finished with 44 tackles, the lowest of his four-year career with the Browns. He also had just two sacks, lowest in his career after leading the Browns in sacks in his first three seasons when he had 21 sacks in his first three seasons. He also had three passes broken up. Sheard ranks ninth on the all-time sack list for the Browns with 23. Sheard was ranked by Pro Football Talk as the 33rd best defensive end/outside linebacker. They ranked eight players ahead of him.
Ahtyba Rubin– Rubin finished the season with 28 tackles, one sack, one pass broken up in 13 games. Rubin’s 100th game with the Browns likely was his last with the Browns. Rubin has 375 career tackles, including 12 sacks in seven seasons with the Browns. Rubin finished the season on injured reserve. Rubin was not ranked on the available free agent list.
Tashaun Gipson– Gipson is a restricted free agent and the Browns will certainly match any offers if he were sign an offer sheet. The Browns are believed to have been in contract extension discussions with Gipson. Gipson was an undrafted free agent signed by the Browns in 2012. Pro Football Talk listed Gipson 86th on their list.
Jim Leonhard– Leonhard is technically a free agent but he has announced that he will retire from the NFL.