Friday, March 10, 2017

Browns beef up offensive line

The Cleveland Browns made a major leap forward in arguably making their offensive line one of the better O-line units in the league in free agency with a few signings,an extension for a current Brown and what might be an underrated waiver claim that flew under the radar on day one of free agency.

I'm going to write about the flashier news in a second post on offense and concentrate on the beef up front.
The effort is clearly being made to protect the quarterback (whomever that may be) and being able to open holes for the running game (Isaiah Crowell or any challenger that may come to town).

The biggest addition was guard Kevin Zeitler from the division rival Bengals to be installed at right guard.
The right side of the line was the weaker side last season and most observers had Zeitler as the top offensive lineman available in free agency,
At five years and sixty million dollars,which makes Zeitler the highest paid guard in the game,Zeitler didn't come cheap,but at 27 is in the middle of his prime,so that is a plus as so often in free agency,teams are paying for past production.
Zeitler should be spending his best seasons in Cleveland and the former first rounder from Wisconsin immediately improves the line.

The Browns also decided to scrap any thoughts of returning Cameron Erving to center as they signed J.C. Tretter from Green Bay to man that position.
The sites that grade offensive line play give Tretter high grades,but the concern with Tretter is staying healthy as he has missed 33 games due to injury in his four years with the Packers.
The former Cornell standout (wonder if he knows Andy Bernard?) will solidify the middle of the line,if he can just stay on the field and at 26,he has his best years in front of him.

Cleveland hedged their bets on Tretter as they took advantage of being first on the waiver claim list by claiming former third rounder (2014) Marcus Martin from the 49ers.
Martin started 22 games at center for the Niners in his three seasons and can play guard and even tackle in a pinch,so he not only adds insurance for the health of Tretter,he could be a versatile reserve.
A young player with starting experience on the waiver wire?
There has to be more than this for a crummy team like San Francisco to release Martin,so maybe Martin was their Cameron Erving,but for the waiver cost,I'm willing to take a look.

The final move on the offensive line was an extension to left guard Joel Bitonio for five years and 47 million.
Bitonio is coming off a foot injury,which adds some trepidation,but when he is on the field-Bitonio is a top level player and signing him now keeps him off next years free agent market,where he would have been the best guard available.

I love all these moves and you could make an argument that if any of the contenders at right tackle
(Shon Coleman,Spencer Drango and maybe Cameron Erving) can be even league average,this could be an offensive line that ranks in the top five to ten in the league and that would go a long way in a return to any type of respectability.
Combine those guys with the eventual return of John Greco from injury,the Browns line will be deep as well as good-Been a long time since I've said that!

I'll be back with the signing of Kenny Britt and yes,the trade with the Texans might come up as well...

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