Cleveland Browns: 5 Dream targets in 2021 NFL free agency

Cleveland Browns, J.J. Watt landing spots. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns, J.J. Watt landing spots. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns free agency
Cleveland Browns, NFL Free Agency, J.J. Watt. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Browns would be living the dream in 2021 NFL free agency if they could land any of these targets when the new year begins on March 17.

With 2021 NFL free agency set to begin at 4 p.m. ET on March 17, the Cleveland Browns will be sitting pretty in terms of their position in relation to the salary cap. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported last week that the salary cap minimum would not be the previously expected $175 million but rather $180 million — and it could be more still.

At that $180 million minimum — a stark decrease from last year due to the decreased league revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic — the Browns will have the 11th most cap-space in the league according to Over The Cap.

Much of that room is due to the fact that Cleveland has the most cap space carryover from 2020 to 2021 in the league, as noted bye the NFLPA on Twitter:

As the official start to 2021 NFL free agency fast approaches, and a slew of big names on this year’s offseason market, lets take a look at five dream signings the Cleveland Browns should make when March 17 comes around.

Cleveland Browns dream free agency target No. 5: J.J. Watt, DL

After asking for his release from the Houston Texans, J.J. Watt hits the free-agent market for the first time in a decade. Watt, after recent years were marred by season-ending injuries, played all 16 games in 2020 for just the second time in five seasons.

Despite being pinned with the “injury-prone” label, Watt proved he’s still a defensive threat in his 2020 campaign. While his sacks total may have taken a drop, posting only 5.0 on the season, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year drew the most double-teams of any defensive player in the league. In addition, Watt tallied one interception (returned for a touchdown), two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, 52 combine tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 17 QB hits.

Having shown he can still be the game-wrecker that landed him on the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team, Watt signing in Cleveland would fix multiple problems for the Browns defense. For one, Watt would likely replace fellow upcoming free agent Olivier Vernon, who the Browns lost in the last game of the regular season to an Achilles injury.

Secondly, and more importantly, Watt would play alongside All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, who missed two games last season due to COVID-19. Watt would not only provide backup if Garrett went down again but a defensive line manned by two of the game’s best would create havoc for any offensive line unfortunate enough to be given the responsibility of blocking them.