The Cleveland Browns were one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL during the 2021 season. There was a lot of hype surrounding the team, as they built a strong roster on both sides of the ball. Ultimately, they fell well short of expectations.
The Browns finished 8-9, missing the postseason for the 18th time in 19 seasons. All of the positive momentum that people believed they had built by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers and hanging tough with the Kansas City Chiefs during the postseason last year went out the window.
The position that will draw the most focus as a result of their shortcomings is the quarterback spot. Baker Mayfield was selected No. 1 overall in 2018 but has not lived up to the lofty status of being the first overall pick.
He has had some moments, but overall, has failed to elevate the team to the levels they were capable of. Mayfield deserves some credit trying to battle through a shoulder injury this season, but he was not helping the team win games.
As a result, the Browns have a tough decision to make. Will they bring Mayfield back for a fifth season, or will they look to bring in an upgrade? According to one Browns reporter, Mary Kay Cabot, the team must scour the trade market for an upgrade.
One of the players that she mentions is Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Cousins has fallen short of expectations himself since joining Minnesota, but not all of that can be pinned on him. He has had two of the best seasons of his career in 2020 and 2021, but with the defense crumbling, all of the good the offense did went for naught.
Cousins has a $45 million cap hit this season but is someone that Minnesota could move on from. With general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer both fired, Cousins could be on the move next as their replacements could very well opt for a truly clean start.
Acquiring someone like Cousins would also take a prospective quarterback off the list of acquisitions their rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers can make. Long-time Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger officially announced his retirement this week, meaning they are in the market for a quarterback as well.
For Cleveland, Cousins would be a big enough upgrade that they should be right back in the playoff picture in 2022. Upgrading the quarterback position is of the utmost importance in Cleveland as they are in what is shaping up to be arguably the toughest division in the NFL with the Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.