This article is part of our NFL Picks series.
NFL Free Agency 2023 begins on Wednesday, March 15 at 4 p.m.ET. At that time, the new league year turns on the NFL calendar. However, preceding that date is the NFL's legal tampering period, which starts on Monday, March 13 at noon. Though deals will be agreed upon during that tampering period, they will not become official until the commencement of the new league year.
The Cleveland Browns could be one of the busier teams when signing impending free agents, notably, on the defensive side of the football. The Browns had a slew of talent on defense in 2022, but the unit was an overall disappointment last season despite flashing at times.
Look for the Browns, who are currently over the cap by roughly $11.6 million, to clear some cap space to sign new defensive assets that fit into newly hired defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's scheme.
If the Browns make the necessary improvements on defense, this is a team that has the pieces in place offensively to make a run in the AFC North. You can bet on the Browns to win the AFC North plus other fun Browns NFL Futures markets at all of the best Ohio sportsbooks.
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Read on to find out the top three free agents the Browns should target in free agency.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Houston Texans
The Browns have four EDGE/ DEs about to hit the open market including Jadeveon Clowney, Chase Winovich, Stephen Weatherly, and Chris Odom. This position of need could be a priority for the Browns on the open market.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo could be an answer that shouldn't break the bank. He may be undersized, but Okoronkwo is a quality signing who does his job, which is to rush the enemy passer at a high level. He managed 36 quarterback pressures last season on a Texans team with limited bright spots. Okoronkwo was one of them.
Juan Thornhill, Safety, Kansas City Chiefs
The Browns have two key defensive backs set to hit the open market. Both CB Greedy Williams and S Ronnie Harrison potentially leaving creates a void on the back end of a Cleveland defense that needs help.
Cue Juan Thornhill. Although the Browns could also target Bengals free-agent safety Jessie Bates III, he will be more expensive than Thornhill. Furthermore, Thornhill brings Super Bowl experience to a locker room that desperately needs that type of presence.
Thornhill is a multi-talented free safety who can also hold his own in man-coverage.
Javon Hargrave, Defensive Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
With Taven Bryan set to hit the open market, the Browns could look elsewhere to fill that void. Bryan was one of the worst-graded interior defensive linemen (65th) last season. Historically, new DC Jim Schwartz prioritizes top-end defensive tackles as a building block for his defenses.
One of the best in free agency is Javon Hargrave, who played under Schwartz from 2016-2020 with the Eagles. Considering the importance of the position in his system, look for Schwartz to push for a signing like Hargrave.
The Browns are just a few key additions away from competing in the AFC. If you think they will make the necessary signings, get ahead of Browns NFL Futures line movements and bet on those markets today with the best Ohio betting promotions.