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Browns players set to become free agents after season is a long list

The Cleveland Browns are hoping to compete for a Super Bowl in the 2021 NFL season but also are planning to be competitive for years to come.

While the 2021 offseason was full of additions to the team and very few subtractions, the upcoming seasons could see that flip. The Browns are at a place in their development where they will need to focus on keeping their own players and may not be able to do so with all of them.

The team will be in an interesting position after this season with a number of younger players that they would like to keep around while also trying to extend the contracts of Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward a year before they become free agents.

As we wait for training camp to start next month, lets take a look at the list of players who could move on from the team next offseason. For today, we will only look at those players who are expected to impact the team in 2021 and scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

Nick Chubb

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The biggest name on this list, Nick Chubb is in the last year of his rookie deal after being drafted in the second round. So far, teams have not let their star running backs leave despite many of their second contracts becoming problematic quickly. Could Chubb be the exception?

Wyatt Teller

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The Browns added Wyatt Teller in a trade and watched as he excelled in the zone-blocking scheme the Browns ran in 2020. His value skyrocketed and could make things difficult for the Browns given how much money and assets they have spent on the other spots on the offensive line.

Ronnie Harrison

Ronnie Harrison Browns

Ronnie Harrison Browns

(AP Photo/Gary McCullough)

Another trade acquisition, Ronnie Harrison had a good first year with the Browns despite coming over late in camp last year. Harrison could find himself on the outside looking in as the Browns drafted Grant Delpit in the second round and gave John Johnson III a good-sized deal in free agency.

David Njoku

(AP Photo/Justin Berl)

An enigma for Browns fans, David Njoku had his fifth-year option picked up by the team for 2021. While still very young, Njoku has shown flashes and was used more often later in the season last year. Will the team find the money for him or let another team bet on his upside?

Rashard Higgins

(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

Rashard Higgins could have made this list for a few years in a row now. “Hollywood” just keeps coming back to the team that drafted him. His connection with Baker Mayfield cannot be argued but he hasn’t found a permanent home, once again signing a one-year deal to return to Cleveland. Is this the year he moves on or do the Browns make space for him long-term?

Chris Hubbard

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Somehow Chris Hubbard could make it through four seasons with the Browns after restructuring the deal he signed with the team in 2018. If he doesn’t make the team, the Browns would save almost $4 million in salary-cap space but lose a versatile veteran backup on the offensive line.

KhaDarel Hodge

(Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

Another player that feels like he has been around for a longer time than is true, KhaDarel Hodge signed him restricted free agent tender this offseason to stick around for one more year. Going into his third season in Cleveland, Hodge has only caught 15 passes but is very helpful on special teams.

Cody Parkey

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Cody Parkey came back to the Browns in the 2020 season and stuck around for the 2021 season. Kickers often have short shelf lives on teams and tend to rotate around the league. Parkey was first in Cleveland in 2016 before returning in 2020.

Malcolm Smith

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

The former Super Bowl MVP re-signed with the Browns after a very good season in 2020. While he will compete with a couple of young guys, and Anthony Walker, for playing time, he is the sort of veteran that could stick around for a few years as a support player.

Jadeveon Clowney

(Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

The first of the list of players on one-year deals, Jadeveon Clowney is the biggest name. Clowney has bounced around the league a lot for a former #1 overall pick but has a chance to excel cross from Myles Garrett. Can he cash in going into 2022?

Takk McKinley

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

The first defensive end that the Browns signed in free agency, Takk McKinley has had an up and down start to his NFL career. Reportedly, McKinley has matured over the past year and is ready to step into a role on a competitive team.

Anthony Walker

[Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

Just gifted with Phil Dawson’s #4 jersey, Walker only signed a one-year deal in Cleveland to come over from Indianapolis. Expected to be one of the leaders on the defense, Jacob Phillips and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah are young players that will push him for snaps. Will he only get that #4 jersey for this season or will he become a fixture long-term?

Malik Jackson

(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

Malik Jackson is another veteran brought in for his ability to still play but also for his winning history. Jackson is expected to replace Sheldon Richardson on the defensive line but could he, like Smith, become a veteran who sticks around for a couple of seasons?

JoJo Natson

[Phil Masturzo/ Beacon Journal]

Speedy JoJo Natson returns to the Browns after playing three games last season before going down with an injury. Natson is not certain to make the team given the talent in the wide receiver room.

Andrew Billings

(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

An interesting part of this list, Andrew Billings signed a one-year deal with Cleveland in 2020 but opted out due to COVID-19 concerns. That rolled his deal over to this season where he is expected to replace Larry Ogunjobi on the defensive line.

M.J. Stewart

(AP Foto/David Richard)

With a lot of injuries in 2020, M.J. Stewart was forced into duty a lot for the Browns. With so many additions to the secondary this offseason, Stewart could be fighting for his spot on the roster in 2021 before he hits free agency in 2022.

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