Dawson and Vickers Among Top AFC North Free Agents

James Walker of ESPN has the 10 Top AFC North Free Agents, and the Browns have two on the list, kicker Phil Dawson and FB Lawrence Vickers:

10. Phil Dawson, place-kicker, Cleveland Browns

Analysis: Dawson has been the face of Cleveland’s special teams since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999. He had another consistent year in 2010, making 23 of 28 field goals. But Dawson hinted several times that he may have played his last season in Cleveland. For starters, Dawson spent most of his career kicking for awful teams and wants to play in a winning organization. Cleveland is rebuilding once again under first-year head coach Pat Shurmur. Second, Dawson has been unhappy about his contract for quite some time and is finally a free agent. So look for him to explore other options.

Chances of returning: 25 percent

9. Lawrence Vickers, fullback, Browns

Analysis: Vickers is another underrated free agent for the Browns. He is one of the top fullbacks in the NFL, paving the way for several running backs to have big seasons in Cleveland. Tailback Peyton Hillis (1,177 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns in 2010) most recently benefited from Vickers’ play. But after talking to Vickers at the end of the season, he also seemed unsure if he was coming back to Cleveland. There is a lot of change going on with the new coaching staff and new schemes, and it’s unclear how important a power fullback will be in Shurmur’s new West Coast system. Vickers will get plenty of interest from run-heavy teams. Cleveland was one of those clubs last season under former head coach Eric Mangini, but its run-to-pass ratio is expected to change dramatically, putting Vickers’ future with Cleveland in doubt.

Chances of returning: 50 percent

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