I do not want to get ahead of myself, but I feel the Cleveland Browns are way closer to making a run than several big-time teams in the NFL. Right now the Patriots and Chiefs are the front runners in the AFC, and maybe the Colts and Chargers have a shot to make a push but after that, the gap falls off. Teams like the Steelers are falling apart and when they lose Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown they are going to crumble in my opinion. I am not the only one who feels that way either, experts have the Browns with better Super Bowl odds than the Steelers, Vikings and even Packers.
The Browns added a weapon in Kareem Hunt, and their management was not afraid of the backlash. The fans in Cleveland should be fired up because they have a competent front office in a long time, and I have a feeling they will be a team winning for quite some time under the tutelage of Baker Mayfield.
Saquon Barkley was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, edging out Mayfield 26.5 votes to 21.5, but I feel Baker should have been given the trophy.
In 14 games (and 13 starts), Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his 486 pass attempts for 3,725 yards and a rookie-record 27 scores. He threw 13 more touchdown passes than interceptions and logged a passer rating of 93.7 while leading the Browns to within a half-game of the .500 mark. That is a super impressive stat line considering he lead the team to more victories than the past 3 years. Baker won seven games while the Browns the previous three seasons only won 4 games.
The Cleveland Browns also have fifth-most salary cap space in 2019. Cleveland is projected to have $82.5 million in salary cap space next off-season, which is nearly half of the annual salary cap space. The league currently has a $177.2 million salary cap.
Based on current 2019 salary cap projections, the Browns would have the fifth most salary cap space behind the Indianapolis Colts ($123.2 million), New York Jets ($107.8), Houston Texans ($95.6 million) and the Buffalo Bills ($92.4 million).
Cleveland is significantly ahead of the rest of the AFC North, however. The Cincinnati Bengals have $65.7 million. The Baltimore Ravens have $33.4 million. The Pittsburgh Steelers bring up the rear with $15 million, which is the fourth least in the NFL.
I do not expect the Cleveland Browns to spend tons of money, but they could add some players to solidify their defensive unit. The Browns are not very far away, and I feel they will be in the playoffs before you know it.
If the Browns can add some playmakers like Landon Collins, and Anthony Barr on the defensive side of the ball and have another draft like 2019 where several of their picks hit, they could be in the driver’s seat for a long time in the AFC North.
The Steelers are crumbling, the Bengals are already in pieces and the Ravens will have to rely on Lamar Jackson as a quarterback which everyone is betting against. I like the Browns chances to make the playoffs in 2019, as long as Mayfield does not have a Sophomore slump.
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