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Mailbag: Who should be playing free safety? Biggest positions of need? Will Josh Gordon’s criminal past haunt him?

Q: Any ideas of switching up Derrick Kindred and Jabrill Peppers this/next year or just picking one and getting a real free safety?

— @kingtopher27

A: This is one of the positions where the front office did the coaching staff and team a giant disservice. There isn’t a true free safety on the roster, and the deficiency has shown up throughout the season.

Coordinator Gregg Williams tried Kindred at free safety in the preseason but quickly abandoned the idea because Kindred doesn’t have the range or ball skills to play in the deep middle of the field. Peppers has the athleticism to survive in center field but would be more effective as an around-the-ball strong safety.


The solution needs to come in the offseason when a true free safety can be drafted or signed in free agency, allowing Peppers to move to strong safety. Kindred has been effective as a run blitzer but isn’t versatile enough to be a starter. His future is in specific defensive packages and as a competent backup.


Q: Other than a QB, which presumably the Browns draft No. 1 this year, what’s the greatest need and what position upgrade would have the greatest impact on wins next year?

— @lorenzotrizzino

A: While I like DeShone Kizer more than most people do, I agree the Browns must add a quarterback in the offseason, whether a veteran or high draft pick.

In answer to your question, there’s a long list of positions where the Browns need significant improvement, but I would say the greatest need is receiver. Josh Gordon may be the solution, but it’s much too premature to count on his continued availability, and we’ve seen how bad the group is without him. Excluding Gordon, Corey Coleman is the only legitimate wideout on the roster, and that’s clearly not enough in today’s NFL.

Free safety, as mentioned above, is also a must, as well as a top-flight cornerback under the age of 30. Left tackle would be added to the list if Joe Thomas decides to retire, as well as running back if Isaiah Crowell leaves in free agency.


Q: Any chance Josh Gordon becomes officially charged with some of the crimes to which he’s recently admitted? For example, the IRS may want its share of that $10,000/year when selling drugs. Perhaps Houston police now use his fingerprints to solve some cases gone dormant, such as auto and electronic thefts, break-ins and/or gang-related incidents causing expensive damages. 

— Mark Leonard

A: An interesting question. I think the statue of limitations has run out on most of the crimes, assuming he was telling the truth that the crimes were committed when he was in high school. But ramifications from his admissions shouldn’t be totally discounted.

The excitement of Gordon’s return to the field is understandable, but the revelations in the Sports Illustrated interview are disturbing and further call into question whether Gordon can be trusted for the long term.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.


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