Browns Urged to Revisit Adding Deep Threat Wide Receiver Amid Injuries

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

Getty Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns.

It appeared that the Cleveland Browns were finished adding to their wide receiver group. Then injury struck — three times.

A strong argument could have been made that Cleveland was in need of another playmaker on the edge even prior to the poor injury luck. Now, as an insurance policy at the very least, there seems to be little left to debate on that front. Another pass catcher would prove paramount to the Browns and a couple of big name wideouts remain free agents, each with ties to the organization.

Odell Beckham Jr., who is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered during the Los Angeles Rams‘ Super Bowl victory in February, is a longer shot considering he just forced his way off of the Browns’ roster during the middle of last season. However, with Baker Mayfield out and Deshaun Watson in (at some point, anyway), the situation in Cleveland might be an easier sell to the three-time Pro Bowl pass catcher.

The better bet, though, is former Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller. A teammate of Watson’s in Texas, Fuller remains capable of both stretching and snapping NFL secondaries, and has a chemistry with Watson built over four seasons as teammates.

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Fuller Among Top Free Agents Still Available, Per Bleacher Report

Will Fuller, Texans

GettyWide receiver Will Fuller, formerly of the Houston Texans, warms up before a game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park on September 22, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Fuller was recently named among the “top free agents” still available in 2022, per Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report. To be specific, Ballentine listed Fuller as the sixth best player on the market, rating him second among wide receivers behind only Beckham as of Friday, July 29.

Ballentine made the case for Fuller, even despite a long and dubious injury history across his six seasons in the league, naming the Browns as one of the best fits for the wideout along with the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.

Will Fuller V is a significant health risk. The 28-year-old receiver has a laundry list of injuries throughout his career and had as many ailments in 2021 as he did catches (four). Still, when Fuller is healthy, he’s a dangerous deep threat capable of taking the top off of a defense.

The last time he was healthy, he posted a career-high 11.7 yards per target and a stat line of 53 catches for 879 yards and eight touchdowns in 2020. Then again, he still only played in 11 games as he dealt with hamstring and groin injuries.

Last season, a broken finger ended Fuller’s season. So it isn’t like all of the injuries have been the kind that will linger into the next year.

At this point, Fuller is worth the risk. He would be a great addition for any team that is thin on receiver or in need of a burner. Even if he misses a handful of games in 2022, he could help a team come playoff time.

Three Browns Wide Receivers Hurt Within Days of Preseason’s Start

Anthony Schwartz

Getty ImagesWide receiver Anthony Schwartz of the Cleveland Browns is day-to-day with a knee strain. 

Fuller would certainly compete for a starting job among Cleveland’s wide receivers considering his history with Watson and his status as a productive veteran when healthy.

Amari Cooper will be the top target in the passing game, while the next two spots remain an open competition. As of the start of training camp last week, rookie David Bell and Donovan Peoples-Jones figured as frontrunners for the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.

However, Bell went down with a foot injury prior to camp and could be out multiple weeks. Anthony Schwartz, who appears to occupy the No. 4 spot on the depth chart and is likely to play the role of first receiver in off of the bench, suffered a knee strain during practice Friday and is day-to-day. Undrafted free agent Isaiah Weston was carted off of the practice field Saturday and details of his injury remain forthcoming.

If the Browns bring him in, Fuller would add valuable depth to the position group even if he is unable to capture a starting role. His price would almost certainly be moderate, well below $10 million annually even with incentives, which is an investment Cleveland could make rather easily with more than $48 million in salary cap space remaining, per Over The Cap.

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