Draft rumors have swirled since the NFL Scouting Combine about the Cleveland Browns possibly snagging Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at No. 1 overall. Could the team have made a move that indicates they'll be going in a different direction with the top draft pick?
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Browns are expected to sign ex-49ers running back Carlos Hyde to a three-year deal worth more than $15 million, with $6 million in Year 1, per a source informed of the deal.
Hyde entered free agency as the top running back on the market after back-to-back 900-plus yard seasons as the San Francisco 49ers' bell-cow. He was ranked No. 20 in NFL.com's Top 101 Free Agents of 2018.
At 27-years-old, Hyde possesses the dual-threat ability to be an every-down back in Cleveland. Hyde displays power between the tackles, burst at the second level, and enough pass-catching ability to keep defenses honest.
While he was the Niners primary ball carrier in 2017, word out of San Francisco was that the team wanted a back that meshed better with Kyle Shanahan's zone running scheme.
Hyde now joins Duke Johnson in Cleveland's top two backs after the Browns watched Isaiah Crowell defect to the New York Jets. Cleveland will also add quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receiver Jarvis Landry via trade in an upgraded offense.
It's easy to view Hyde's signing as a signal from Browns management that they will pass on Barkley at No. 1 and take a quarterback. Perhaps that was the plan all along. The signing shouldn't change a ton. The Browns needed another back regardless -- and have plenty of money to burn. If Barkley is the guy, he should still be the guy. If not, perhaps he never was the true target at first overall.