A pessimist’s guide to the 2024 Cleveland Browns

    The Browns proved to have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL after making the playoffs with five different starting quarterbacks in 2023. Still, there are plenty of reasons for concern heading into the 2024 campaign.

    Here is why Cleveland should be worried next season.

    Deshaun Watson could never return to his 2020 form

    The Browns have yet to see their trade pay off for Watson, which included three first-round picks.

    The 28-year-old has played in just 12 games the past two years due to suspension and injuries and has thrown only 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions during that span.

    Cleveland has done nothing but surround Watson with the talent he needs to return to his 2020 form when he led the league in passing yards (4,823).

    It’s now or never for Watson, and the team must start admitting there’s a chance he never reaches anything more than being an average quarterback the rest of his career.

    Nick Chubb could never be the same after serious knee injury

    In Week 2 of last season, Chubb suffered a serious injury to the same knee he hurt in 2015. It was later diagnosed as a torn MCL and a damaged ACL, which has left his status for the start of the 2024 season up in the air.

    Chubb took a pay cut to retain some long-term security with the Browns, but there is clearly some lack of confidence there after they signed veteran running backs D’Onta Foreman and Nyheim Hines in free agency.

    The NFL lives of running backs are already short, and the 28-year-old’s injury could have shortened his after an impressive start to his career in which he rushed for 6,511 yards and 48 touchdowns.

    Aging defense could take a step back

    Cleveland boasted the best defense in the league in total yards allowed per game (270.2) last season, and while the team was able to retain most of its key free agents, the unit could take a step back in 2024.

    The Browns had to rebuild their inside linebacker room after losing starters Anthony Walker Jr. (Dolphins) and Sione Takitaki (Patriots) in free agency, but they chose to do so with soon-to-be 32-year-old Jordan Hicks and first-round bust Devin Bush.

    Not to mention, defensive linemen Za’Darius Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson and Shelby Harris are all on the backend of their careers in their 30s.

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