Browns Retain Defensive Back With New 1-Year Deal

AJ Green

Getty Images Martin Emerson Jr. of the Cleveland Browns and A.J. Green.

AJ will be returning to the Cleveland Browns next season, with the sides agreeing to a new deal on Sunday.

Green was a restricted free agent but got the deal done before the start of free agency. The contract is for one year, per Jordan Schultz of The Score. The deal is expected to be for $2.627, which is a solid value for Green, who has proven he can be a solid depth piece for the secondary.

With Green signing on for another season, the Browns have their top four cornerbacks set for next season. Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome and Martin Emerson will hold down the spots on the depth chart ahead of Green. The oft-injured Greedy Williams — a second-round pick of the Browns in 2019 — is set to hit free agency and not expected to return to Cleveland.

Green played 75 snaps at slot cornerback last season and 49 on the outside. He also played a significant role on special teams, getting involved in both kick and punt returns.

Green Has Earned the Respect of Fellow Browns CBs

The Browns made sure to sign Green as an undrafted free agent in 2020, giving him a $145,000 guarantee. At the time, it was the highest figure given to an undrafted free agent, per USA Today.

Green has earned the respect of his peers, who feel like he’d have a larger role on another team that didn’t have so much talent at the position.

“He’s amazing,” Newsome said during training camp last season. “I said it last year and I’ll say it again: If he wasn’t on this team, he can go and be a starter anywhere else in the league. He’s that good and that talented. … Whenever we need him to be on that field, he’s always there ready to go.”

Browns Excited About Greg Newsome’s Future

The Browns have three very talented cornerbacks in Newsome, Ward and Emerson, who burst on the scene as a rookie last season, starting six games. Newsome split time playing inside and outside last season.

Newsome made it clear in a tweet that he’d like to spend more time on the outside, which the Browns’ new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will have to evaluate.

“We always have conversations with our guys, whether it’s at the end of the season or into the offseason. We feel good about where Greg is,” Browns GM and EVP Andrew Berry said at the combine. “He’s going to be a pretty big part of what we’re doing moving forward. I think Greg, one of his value adds is the fact that he can play outside and inside, but we think he’s a good young player and I know Jim (Schwartz) is excited to work with him as well.”

The Browns will also hope that Ward can stay healthy. He hasn’t played a full season in his career and missed three games last season. When he is on the field, Ward is an elite cover corner, making the Pro Bowl in 2018 and 2021.

The secondary will look a bit different for the Browns, who released veteran safety John Johnson III. With the move, the Browns saved $9.75 million on the cap. The Browns will prioritize filling that hole in free agency, as well as the defensive line and middle linebacker spots.

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