This is the view of former American football tight end and current Fox Sports pundit Shannon Sharpe.
Sharpe believes Cleveland’s divisional rivals have become weaker after the initial free agency trades.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who went 9-6-1 last season, have seen Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown leave for greener pastures, going to the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders respectively.
The Baltimore Ravens, who won the division last campaign with a 10-6 record, have lost veteran quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos and linebacker Terrell Suggs to the Arizona Cardinals.
And the Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to make any notable free agency signings to help them improve on their 6-10 performance in 2018.
Because of these factors Sharpe has tipped the Browns to take the division.
“I think they should be favourite in the North,” Sharpe said on Fox Sports TV show Undisputed.
“When you look at whats happened in Pittsburgh, they’ve lost Le’Veon, they lose AB.
“You look at Baltimore, they lose Flacco, maybe that’s not a big loss, they do lose Suggs, they do lose C.J. Moses, but they pick up Earl Thomas.
“And Cincinnati are Cincinnati.”
However, Sharpe isn’t getting carried away with how far he believes the Browns will do this season, as some are considering them as possible Super Bowl contenders.
This is because it is nearly three decades since the organisation has won the division – the longest without a title in the NFL – and they last time they made the playoffs was in 2002.
“What you have to be is very, very cautious about playing NFL football in the Spring,” Sharpe said.
“Because you have to look at a team who has not won the division in Cleveland since 1989.
“They haven’t been to the playoffs since ’02 and you bring in a player, I know he is unbelievable, but it’s not like OB is littered with these playoff experiences.
“And you are talking about a team that has not been to the playoffs in 20 years, that hasn’t won a division in 30 years.
“No, you got to change the mindset, you got to change the culture.
The New York Giants surprised many in the league when they announced they were trading Beckham to the Browns.
This was because the Giants had only recently given the 26-year-old a a five-year contract extension worth $95million.
New York got a first-round and third-round pick, along with safety Jabril Peppers in return for Beckham, but they get hit very hard in the dead money eating into their cap space.
The absorption of the $16m in dead money from the Beckham trade now pushes the Giants dead money to a league-high $33,656,400.
Sharpe believes the Browns not have a great opportunity but warns nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.
“They got the making to be really special,” he said.
“But just because you got the right ingredients, doesn’t mean the dish is going to turn out well.”
Published at Fri, 15 Mar 2019 01:04:00 +0000