#Heytony: Should The Browns Draft Defensive Line At No. 54 After Failing To Sign An Impact Tackle In Free Agency?

The Browns added only one defensive lineman in free agency. Could that result in a lineman like Mike Hall of Ohio State being their top choice in the draft?

The Browns added only one defensive lineman in free agency. Could that result in a lineman like Mike Hall of Ohio State being their top choice in the draft?

#HeyTony: Should the Browns draft defensive line at No. 54 after failing to sign an impact tackle in free agency?

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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.

Hey Tony: Missing on an impact defensive tackle, do you think the best DL at 54 is the choice and then turning to wide receiver in the third round?  

-- Sam, Lorain, OH

Hey Sam: No. If the Browns stay at No. 54, there will be a higher-rated wide receiver than defensive tackle available. Despite the trade for Jerry Jeudy, the Browns need an impact receiver on a rookie contract to ease their cap crunch in coming years. They can’t keep trading for or signing veteran receivers. There’s so much receiver talent pouring out of the colleges, the Browns have to nab one.

Hey Tony: I was hoping Justin Fields wouldn’t go to Pittsburgh. So much for that. With that being finalized who do you think will start week 1 for them?

-- Roman, Charlotte, NC

Hey Roman: Barring an injury, I don’t think there’s any question that Russell Wilson will open the season as the Steelers’ starting QB. Would the Steelers incorporate a Fields package to keep him involved? We shall see.

Hey Tony: Has Winston officially signed yet?

-- Mike, Mckean, PA

Hey Mike: Apparently not. The Browns haven’t acknowledged the reported Winston deal yet.

Hey Tony: Why is it all quiet on the Nick Chubb contract restructure? Should we worry?

-- AJ, Avon, OH

Hey AJ: In a word … I don’t think so. From what I understand, Chubb believes he can be ready in September. That might be overly optimistic. The Browns, however, are not going to discourage him from trying. Now, how many games Chubb is able to play will factor into a contract restructuring. For example, if he plays only half a season, that equates to one salary. If he plays more than that, that raises the number. A solution, of course, is to agree to a restructuring with incentives based on games played. It sounds easy, but apparently there is a hang-up.

Hey Tony: What happened to Jacob Phillips? Not on roster, but if you google him, he shows as a Browns player.

-- Rod, Athens, OH

Hey Rod: Phillips finished the last two seasons with pectoral injuries and his contract ran out. He is a free agent, but has no market value because of the injuries. If he’s healthy, I’d expect the Browns to bring him to training camp with a split-minimum contract, which protects them in case of another injury.

Hey Tony: Mike Vrabel and the Browns do not seem like a match. My views of him on Hard Knocks and others over the years seem far different in attitude to the current Browns regime. Why did they bring him aboard?

-- Dewars, Strongsville, OH

Hey Dewars: Vrabel is a great coach who will be in charge of a new team next year, I believe. Joining the Browns as a consultant keeps Vrabel in the NFL loop. It signals to other teams, ‘Hey, I still want to coach. Don’t forget about me next year.’ Fact is, these consultant positions usually benefit the consultant more than the team. Sometimes they are payback appointments. Vrabel helped out Jim Schwartz three years ago by inviting him to Tennessee as a ‘consultant’ or ‘advisor’ and it led to Schwartz getting the Browns coordinator job. I’m not saying Vrabel doesn’t bring some value to the Browns. I just can’t speculate on the impact any ‘consultant’ makes with a team.

Hey Tony: What would be the advantage if the Browns chose not to renegotiate Watson’s contract this year?

-- Jay, LaGrange, OH

Hey Jay: In Watson’s first two years, the Browns did salary conversions to reduce his cap numbers in Years 1 and 2. The result was adding one void year in 2027 and increasing his salary cap number from $46 million to roughly $64 million in 2024-26, Years 3, 4, 5. If they do another conversion, it would add more void – or dummy – years and increase his salary cap number again. So by eating the $64 million cap charge in 2024, which saw a big increase in the league salary cap, they can keep his cap charge at $64 million in 2025. As things stand now, Watson will count almost $9 million against the cap one year after his contract expires. You don’t want to tack on any more future charges. No matter how they finagle the numbers on the salary cap, Watson will receive $230 million over the course of his five-year contract.

Hey Tony: What’s the worst-case scenario in your opinion as far as stadium development goes?

-- Patrick, Westlake, OH

Hey Patrick: To me, worst case would be throwing $1 billion+ -- including $500 million in public funds -- at a stadium re-do and keeping it at present location. It still would be unusable for five or six months a year and still would be a migraine headache to access.

Hey Tony: What has happened to sports reporting and access to players like it used to be? I mean, why hasn’t anybody been able to get into the nitty gritty down and dirty with Watson, Stefanski, and Berry?

-- Ethan, Richmond, VA

Hey Ethan: The Browns are among the most media-inaccessible organizations in the NFL. In four years, Stefanski and Berry have granted zero one-on-ones to local media, except to their own media department. They only seek to abide by the bare minimum NFL media accessibility rules. I believe this is a corporate philosophy set forth by Jimmy Haslam as a result of rampant media leaks that originated in the Joe Banner-Mike Lombardi regime. It is what it is.