Ethan Pocic is expected to investigate his options as a free agent but has a good chance to return to the Cleveland Browns next season.
Pocic is coming off a strong year with the Browns, where he thrived at center after being thrown into the starting role. Thanks to his solid play, Pocic was expected to have a bevy of suitors willing to pay the price in free agency, although Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported that the market has shifted a bit over the last week.
“Pocic’s chances of returning to the Browns have increased significantly, and it’s now a good bet he’ll be back snapping the ball to Watson in 2023,” Cabot reported on Saturday. “Initially, Pocic’s market value was believed to be out of reach for the Browns, but the market became flooded with good centers, and he’s likely more affordable than expected.”
Pocic’s market value is around $7.2 million per year, per Spotrac. That’s something the Browns could afford, knowing that Pocic has filled the very important role previously at a high level. If the Browns were not to retain Pocic, they’d rely on former fifth-round pick Nick Harris to be the starter.
Harris was originally slated to be the starter last season but suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason.
Pocic Expressed Interest in Returning to Cleveland
One thing the Browns have working in their favor is that Pocic enjoyed being in Cleveland. He expressed an interest in returning to the Browns last season.
“That would be a dream come true, man. That would be awesome,” Pocic told the Akron Beacon Journal when asked about potentially re-signing. “So we’ll see what happens. That would be a dream come true, though.”
The Browns also appreciated his hard work and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt was very complimentary of his play.
“What a great job [Pocic] has done really stepping in when Nick got hurt right away and never really missed a beat with him,” Van Pelt said. “A great job of the guys upstairs [in the front office] getting him into the building.”
He added: “I would think we would [want to re-sign him]. I don’t make those decisions, but I don’t think there is anything in his play this year that we would say we wouldn’t want to see him again next year.”
Browns Expected to be in the Mix For Dre’Mont Jones
On the other side of the line, the Browns are looking for defensive tackle help and a name they are rumored to be in the mix for is Dre’Mont Jones. He’s played his first four seasons with the Denver Broncos but has a link to Cleveland thanks to his college days at Ohio State.
The Browns’ heavy interest in Jones comes via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, who said the team will be “squarely in the mix” for him.
The Browns had one of the worst defensive tackle groups in football last season, which played a significant factor in Cleveland having one of the worst run defenses in football. The defensive line will be one of the areas the Browns will focus on in free agency and the draft, especially considering how important the group is in new defensive coordination Jim Schwartz’s system.