Will Cleveland make a Super Bowl run?

Quin Norris, Sports Editor

With the off-season well underway in the National League Football (NFL), many teams have hit the free agent market prior to the NFL Draft to fill out roster spots on their respective teams. 

With the lowering of the cap heading into the 2021 season, it created a competitive atmosphere for teams looking to sign players who would not have normally been cut from their previous rosters. 

No team played this game quite as well as Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns. Heading into the off-season, the team had one thing in mind and that was to improve the defense for 2021 as the team struggled with youth and depth in the secondary and linebacker core. 

The first splash the team made was in signing All-Pro safety John Johnson III from the Los Angeles Rams to a 3-year deal. They immediately followed that signing with Johnson’s teammate from Los Angeles Troy Hill at slot corner. These two players were instrumental in that Rams defense that finished the regular season as the number one defense in the NFL. The two signings have changed the teams secondary into a competitive unit overnight. The improvements speak volumes of general manager Andrew Berry as he turned the team’s weakness into its potential strength. 

After that the team signed defensive end Takk McKinley and defensive tackle Malik Jackson on cheap one year prove it deals. While these signings are not flashy or big, they do add depth at the defensive line and players who are quite good at stopping the run. Which is something the team struggled with in 2020. 

The final free agent signing so far for Cleveland is linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. Walker will be coming to Cleveland on a one-year deal worth $3 million. While Walker is not a top linebacker in the league, he will bring vital help to a young Browns linebacker core with his abilities in the film room. According to his former teammates and coaches from the Indianapolis Colts there is no better player when it comes to film study and understanding what an offense is going to do before they do it. He will bring experience and work almost as a coach on the field to potentially develop the talent that is around him. Like how he worked for the Colts. 

With the draft drawing near, it appears that the team is done with free agency. However, there is the potential for the team to pick up defensive end Jadeveon Clowney which would be the one piece the team is missing from becoming a top five defense in the league next season. 

After evaluating the moves this team made in the offseason, I fill comfortable saying they will return to the playoffs in 2021. However, I do believe the team will host their first playoff game since they returned in 1999 by winning the AFC North. With the weaking of the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, I would say that the team has its best shot since the 90’s to win the division. 

Now, with all of these signings, there has been a large push from the national media over whether or not this team will make a run to Super Bowl LVI. I tend to believe that the team can make a deep run in the 2021-22 playoffs however getting past Kansas City and Buffalo will be no easy task for the Browns. I believe the team is poised for a run to the AFC Championship Game before being defeated by the Bills or Chiefs. However, if this team can secure a top seed and play nothing but home games in the playoffs then they will have a much easier task at winning it all due to the hostile environment that a deprived Cleveland fanbase will bring to the games. I would go as far as to say that it will be the loudest games of the playoffs. 

Regardless of whether or not the team makes a Super Bowl run next season, I do see the Browns becoming an actual threat to anyone who has to play them going forward for many seasons to come as long as they have their three stars in Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Myles Garrett.