There weren’t many quality offensive linemen on the market in free agency, and the Cleveland Browns needed help on the line.
The Browns got aggressive and signed former Tennessee Titans right tackle Jack Conklin to a three-year deal worth $42 million with $30 million guaranteed according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He will make $20 million in the first year, which helps the Browns maintain some salary-cap flexibility in future years. That comes after the Browns reportedly agreed to terms with tight end Austin Hooper on a $42 million deal.
Adding Conklin helps an offensive line that fell into disrepair last season, which was one reason quarterback Baker Mayfield had a horrible sophomore season.
Browns’ line was a problem last season
Old Browns GM John Dorsey made a mistake in ignoring the offensive line. He even traded elite guard Kevin Zeitler to the New York Giants.
The lack of a solid line didn’t help Mayfield. A lot more went wrong for him in a bad 2019 than just the protection in front of him. The coaching was bad and Mayfield made some awful decisions even when he wasn’t under pressure.
But the Browns had to do something to address the line. Grabbing Conklin, widely considered the best offensive lineman on the market this offseason, is a great step.
Titans lose a big piece
The Titans made a mistake with Conklin. They declined Conklin’s fifth-year option, a surprise considering he was the eighth pick of the draft and an All-Pro as a rookie. But he tore his ACL at the end of his second season, battled through an injury-filled third season and the Titans had to make a decision on the option. Presumably, the Titans would make a different decision today.
The short-term deal was done purposely. It will allow Conklin to collect $42 million and enter free agency again when he’s 28 years old.
The Titans will miss Conklin, but the Browns — and especially Mayfield — have to be happy.
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