Not every first-round pick pans out as planned, which the Cleveland Browns understand better than most.
Cornerback Greg Newsome II, who the franchise selected 26th overall in 2021, hasn’t been a bust, but he hasn’t lived up to his draft position either. Newsome is a starter on a defense that looks great on paper but looked far less than that on the field last year.
Cleveland can exercise a fifth-year option on Newsome’s contract next offseason, though that notion is as precarious as it will be expensive if the corner can’t up his game in 2023. Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated predicted on Friday, May 26, that the Browns will ultimately pass on Newsome’s extension when the time comes.
“So far, Newsome is off to a pretty lackluster career with the Browns,” Verderame wrote. “The former Northwestern star hasn’t found his footing in Cleveland’s secondary, registering 15 passes defensed and zero interceptions across two years. However, if Newsome can break out in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme, things could turn quickly for him.”
Greg Newsome Wanted Trade Out of Cleveland This Offseason
While it is possible the Browns won’t want Newsome around for a fifth year, at least not at an exorbitant price, reports this offseason indicated that Newsome desired an end to the relationship far sooner than that.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported on April 18 that Newsome sought a trade out of Cleveland, which led to a change in the cornerback’s representation.
“Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, Newsome wanted a trade,” Florio wrote. “As the source explained it, Newsome fired agent Damarius Bilbo after Bilbo was unable to engineer a trade. Newsome is now represented by Drew Rosenhaus.”
Newsome and Rosenhaus refuted the claims, though it isn’t a stretch to believe Newsome might be unhappy in Cleveland. The Browns have posted records of 8-9 and 7-10 in Newsome’s first two seasons, respectively, and the secondary took a considerable amount of heat for multiple late-game breakdowns last year.
Furthermore, the team drafted cornerback Martin Emerson Jr. early in the third round in 2022 and followed that pick by selecting Newsome’s former Northwestern teammate Cameron Mitchell in April. Newsome expressed happiness with the selection, but the pressure to perform has no doubt ratcheted up as Cleveland continues to invest in competitors for his starting role.
Browns CB Greg Newsome Feeling Pressure Ahead of Third NFL Season
The pressure got to Newsome enough to facilitate a temporary departure from social media, which the cornerback announced back in March. He has since returned to his platforms, though the need to separate himself from them in the first place speaks to some mental strain the 23-year-old has suffered since joining the NFL.
While Newsome has yet to record an interception, his coverage numbers have been solid as a versatile defender wearing several different hats in the secondary. He allowed a completion percentage of just 58% to opposing quarterbacks last season while giving up a collective QB rating of 84.6, per Pro Football Reference.
Newsome produced a coverage grade of 72.3 and an overall player grade of 69.1 last season, which slotted him 34th out of 118 players who qualified at the cornerback position in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus.