BEREA, OH (WOIO) - If the Browns want to impact their offensive line before the draft they have two options -- trades or free agency.
A trade is unlikely for two reasons. First, trades in general just do not happen often in the league. Secondly, teams would ask for draft picks in return, and the Browns are unlikely to part with any high picks.
That leaves free agency, where there are players that can help them.
The Browns biggest obstacle in free agency will be the fact that they are the Browns. It's not only that they lose, they also have a reputation of being dysfunctional. Players can be swayed, of course -- by way of face-to-face conversations or just good old fashioned buckets of cash.
There is a right tackle, though, that would require less of a sales pitch, and that's Andre Smith. The 29-year old spent last year with Minnesota before winding up on the IR in October because of an injured right triceps muscle. Prior to this season he had been a Bengal for his entire career. He spent time under Hue Jackson. Players that have played for Jackson have always raved about playing for him. Smith has traditionally been good at both pass and run blocking, and would be an upgrade on the right side of the Browns line. If the Vikings do not sign him back, it would make a lot of sense for the Browns to be somebody he'd consider. Minnesota will likely push to keep him, though.
Another former Bengal is also slated for free agency. That is guard Kevin Zeitler, a 26-year-old who is one of the top guards in the game, but is likely to be signed by Cincinnati before he ever hits free agency.
I think Smith is their best bet in free agency. If they cannot get him, other free agent tackles include Tampa Bay's Gosder Cherilus, New England's Sebastian Vollmer, and Carolina's Mike Remmers.