The Cleveland Browns on Sunday addressed arguably the biggest hole on their roster, re-signing edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to a new contract. While defensive tackle remains an area of concern, the team can now also turn some of its attention toward the wide receiver position.
After trading with the Dallas Cowboys for Amari Cooper and drafting David Bell in the third round out of Purdue, the Browns are far from bereft at receiver. But that doesn’t mean that new quarterback Deshaun Watson couldn’t use a little bit more help.
Prominent wideouts still available on the free agent market include former Cleveland pass catcher Odell Beckham Jr., former All-Pro Julio Jones and Watson’s former Houston Texans teammate Will Fuller. All have either been linked to the Browns, or at least speculated on as possibilities.
However, after the franchise inked Clowney to one-year deal worth $11 million, it was Fuller who was mentioned Sunday by Josina Anderson of CBS Sports as a possible target for the Browns in a tweet she sent out following news of Clowney’s signing.
“Will be interesting to see if the #Browns can snag free agent WR Will Fuller, who already has chemistry with Deshaun Watson as well, his former teammate between 2017-2020,” Anderson wrote. “Just a thought.”
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Browns Initially Sought Return of Jarvis Landry Over Deal With Fuller
The Browns have gone back and forth on the idea of both bringing Fuller into their locker room for the 2022 season, as well as whether or not they need another wideout on the roster at all.
NFL insider Jordan Schultz reported in mid-March that there was “mutual interest” between the Fuller and the Browns in bringing the speedy, former first-round pick to Cleveland.
However, Fuller took a backseat to the team’s renewed interest in wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who spent four years in a Browns uniform before Cleveland released him in March — just two days after the franchise executed its trade for Cooper. That move was made in the name of salary cap savings that amounted to nearly $15 million.
Once Watson was brought in to replace QB Baker Mayfield, Landry’s interest in returning to Cleveland was also rekindled. The Browns even made an offer to Landry for one year at what NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport described as a “pay cut” but a “nice sum,” which Landry turned down before ultimately signing a one-year contract to join the New Orleans Saints.
Browns’ Interest in Fuller Gaining Steam After Report Cleveland Would Stand Pat in WR Room
Cleveland went on to draft Bell along with Michael Woods II, the latter of whom played his most recent collegiate ball at the University of Oklahoma. It was roughly one week later when Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported on Sunday, May 8, that the team was out on both Fuller and former Buffalo Bills pass catcher Cole Beasley.
At this point, there’s not been interest in free agent receivers Will Fuller, formerly of the Texans, and Cole Beasley, formerly of the Bills, or other veterans. The Browns like the makeup of their receiver room and are poised to move forward with their current group, bolstered by Amari Cooper, Bell and sixth-round pick Michael Woods.
The Browns are confident that Watson will make Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz and the other young receivers better, and don’t feel pressured to add another vet. Besides, now that David Njoku is the No. 1 tight end, he’s likely to get more than the 53 targets he got last season.
However, Anderson’s speculation on Sunday indicates that there may be renewed interest in Fuller on the part of the Browns. That notion was buttressed further by comments from Marc Sessler of NFL Network the Thursday prior, when he invoked Fuller’s name as an option after mentioning that Cleveland’s roster remains short one veteran wide receiver.
Fuller makes sense for the Browns, as Beckham is less likely to return to Cleveland after forcing his way out during the middle of last season — even despite the fact that Watson is now in and Mayfield is likely gone. Fuller played four years with Watson as a member of the Texans, catching 69% of the passes thrown his way during that time and averaging between 15-17 yards per reception in three of those four campaigns.