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The Browns Need to Sign This Free Agent Center Following Dawson Deaton ACL Tear

Jason Schandl
Trey Hopkins should be the Browns' top free agent target after center Dawson Deaton suffered a torn ACL.
Trey Hopkins should be the Browns' top free agent target after center Dawson Deaton suffered a torn ACL. /

The Cleveland Browns' offensive line just can't catch a break on the injury front. Just days after starting center Nick Harris suffered a likely season-ending injury, rookie Dawson Deaton has suffered the same fate.

Suddenly Cleveland is incredibly thin at the center position, with Ethan Pocic starting and only undrafted rookie Brock Hoffman behind him on the depth chart.

That's why the Browns need to go out and sign Trey Hopkins in free agency immediately.

Fans who only know Hopkins by reputation as a Cincinnati Bengals' offensive lineman may not be too excited to hear his name, and admittedly he did have a pretty rough 2021 season. This is a guy with 67 NFL starts under his belt across the last five seasons though, and Pro Football Focus gave him overall grades of at least 60 each year from 2017 through 2020.

Pocic graded out ahead of Hopkins on PFF last year, but that was the first time in his career doing so. And starting 40 games for the Seattle Seahawks since 2017, he's been on an even more notoriously bad offensive line than Hopkins.

This isn't just about adding a new definite starter, either. I'm not saying Hopkins is definitely an upgrade over Pocic for Week 1 (though he very well might be). You can also just never have too much depth on the offensive line, and the Browns simply can't afford to go into the regular season with only Pocic and Hoffman on the depth chart at center.

The free agent landscape at center is rough, with the most exciting player (Matt Paradis) coming off a torn ACL of his own, and Hopkins is a player the Browns must go out and sign.

With so much uncertainty in the air in Cleveland this year, FanDuel Sportsbook's NFL odds have the Browns ranked No. 13 in the league with +2400 odds to win the Super Bowl.

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