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Will the Browns’ secondary experience further improvement in Year 2 under Jim Schwartz?



The Browns’ defensive backs showcased significant improvement in 2023 under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme. In contrast to the criticisms and internal issues faced in 2022, particularly in man coverage, the defensive backs responded well throughout much of the season, despite a less-than-ideal ending in the wild card game against C.J. Stroud and the Texans.

The outlook for the secondary in 2024 appears positive, with young players emerging, questions being answered, and contract extensions being secured. As we delve into the Browns’ roster position by position, examining contracts and impending decisions, it becomes evident that the secondary is one of the team’s strongest units set to return in full force.

Looking specifically at the cornerback position, players under contract include Martin Emerson Jr., Kahlef Hailassie, Cameron Mitchell, Greg Newsome II, and Denzel Ward. The Browns face decisions regarding the free agent status of Mike Ford Jr.

In the safety position, players under contract comprise D’Anthony Bell, Grant Delpit, Ronnie Hickman, and Juan Thornhill. Notable free agents in this category are Duron Harmon and Rodney McLeod Jr.

Key questions and decisions revolve around Greg Newsome’s long-term future with potential fifth-year option considerations and the possibility of an extension. The Browns have the flexibility to navigate roster challenges, but the emergence of Martin Emerson Jr. and the stable cornerback room may lead to intriguing decisions in the future.

Keeping veterans like Rodney McLeod, who played a crucial leadership role, and Duron Harmon, who was signed after McLeod’s injury, adds valuable experience to the safety room. Thornhill and Delpit, as starters with recent extensions, contribute to stability, while young, undrafted safeties also have the opportunity to shine.

Additionally, retaining core special teams player Mike Ford Jr., a versatile asset with experience in both special teams and secondary roles, makes sense for the Browns. Ford’s ability to play a significant role in special teams and provide depth in the secondary aligns with the team’s emphasis on improving special teams units.

In summary, the Browns’ secondary appears well-positioned for the upcoming season, with key decisions focused on maintaining a balance of experience and youthful talent, ensuring stability, and maximizing versatility within the defensive backfield.

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