Finally; there is some good news in regards to the NFL lockout. Word on the street has it that the two sides, the Owners and players, have made hefty strides to make a deal, and could be within striking distance. This means that everything, from the first day after the lockout started, through off season free agency, will need to happen in a few short weeks. The NFL's opening day, Thursday September 9th, is right around the corner, and a deal has yet to be reached. But once the deal is done, the free agents and GM's of the league are off to the races to find employment and suitable pieces to their team's puzzle. Here are a few players that could assist the Browns come the 2011 NFL season:
1. RB Darren Sproles - San Diego Chargers
Ok, he is surely not a flashy name, but his agility and athleticism are. This speedster can hit a home run in the blink of an eye. The proud owner of one of the best 40-yard dash times in the league, Sproles would be a perfect compliment to half back Peyton Hillis. Balanced running attacks are usually better suited to keep opposing defenses off balance, and the Browns lacked contrary running styles last season. The ex-Charger also caught 59 passes last year. With rookie Monterio Hardesty's health in question, Sproles might be a worth while investment.
2. WR Malcom Floyd - San Diego Chargers
Another former Charger, Floyd would give the Browns the size at the receiver position they need to succeed in the red zone. Draftee Greg Little will be their long term go to guy within the 20-yard line, but his personal makeup may hinder his NFL maturity. Floyd is a hair bigger than Little, both in height and weight, and would make things easier for Peyton Hillis getting the goal line carries. Floyd's profile is relatively low, so his price would be minimal.
3. DE Ray Edwards - Minnesota Vikings
Resigning Edwards won't be high up on the Minnesota Vikings to do list, as they are confident in their ability to spruce young defensive players. Edwards had a quiet first half last season, but turned on the heat with 6.5 sacks in the final 9 games. Born in Cincinnati, Edward's locker room obedience could be beneficial for young linemen Phil Taylor and Jabaal Sheard.
4. LB Thomas Davis - Carolina Panthers
Yes, the Browns needs for a linebacker decreased because of their new 4-3 defense, but pass rushing is still high on their wish list. Before suffering a second torn ACL which ended his 2010 campaign, Davis was on the verge of becoming a great quarterback sacker. Though the Panthers have expressed interest in brining him back, he will be highly coveted. For the Browns, he could be a steal.
5. CB Carlos Rogers - Washington Redskins
Having Joe Haden and this guy on opposite sides would give rival passing attacks issues. Rogers is a solid cover corner, and has a brawny grasp of how the 4-3 defense operates. Though he owns a below average pair of hands (just as Browns safety T.J. Ward does) his ability to stay on a body would give more blitzing opportunities for other Browns defenders. The problem here is, with experience comes a big pay day, and he may be a bit pricey.
***Sorry for not putting Plaxico Burress in there. When I first heard the rumors, it excited me, though that kind of move would be extremely risky. He hasn't played since the Giants won the Super Bowl in 2008, and the NFL lockout hasn't kept the other players off the field to put him in the same apathetic boat. Then again, Michael Vick found a new home in Philadelphia after a few years behind bars. But that was a one in a million kind of signing. Building a new team, with a new defense, run by a new coach, the Browns risk taking abilities should be held in check until a rigid foundation is shaped.