It's been a stellar offseason for the Browns, but if there's one area that they got worse in, it's the offensive line. In March, they lost future Hall of Famer (and the ultimate iron-man) Joe Thomas to retirement, which created a gaping hole at left tackle. Now, the Browns have lost another tackle to retirement nearly four months after they signed him in free agency to compete for a job at right tackle. 

In March, the Browns signed Donald Stephenson, 29, to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million. In June, Stephenson, who skipped OTAs and mandatory minicamp this offseason and was expected to be fined for his absence, was suspended two games for violating the league's substances of abuse policy. On Friday, the Browns placed Donald Stephenson on the reserve/retired list. According to Mary Kay Cabot of, Stephenson forfeited the $1 million that was guaranteed in his contract.

It's not a brutal blow for the Browns, but it isn't insignificant. In her story, Cabot wrote that Stephenson "was set to challenge for playing time at right tackle." At the very least, Stephenson likely could've functioned as a competent swing tackle and provided depth behind the team's starters at the tackle positions. It's not like he's is an award-winning tackle, but he would've provided experience.

Stephenson, a third-round pick of the Chiefs in 2012, spent the first four years of his career with the Chiefs and the final two with the Broncos. During those six seasons, he accrued 37 starts. 

Without Stephenson, Chris Hubbard is expected to win the starting right tackle job. Hubbard comes from Pittsburgh, where he started 10 games last season and graded out as Pro Football Focus' 40th-best offensive tackle. Meanwhile, Stephenson graded out as the 68th-best offensive tackle. So, again, it's not like the Browns just lost the next Joe Thomas.

But depth matters. And it's worth reiterating that the Browns' offensive line probably got worse this offseason. There's no way they'll be able to replace Thomas adequately on the left side. And suddenly, Stephenson's retirement pushes Greg Robinson, the former No. 2 overall pick in 2014 who has looked nothing like a first-round pick, higher up the depth chart. Robinson was PFF's 78th-ranked tackle last season.

A year ago, even with Thomas, the Browns' offensive line ranked 14th in run blocking and 22nd in pass protection, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. There's a chance, without Thomas, that those numbers will dip even further in 2018. To make matters worse, bridge quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been sacked 124 times over the past three seasons with the Bills, which is the third-highest sack total in that span.

It's a reminder that for as much good as the Browns have done in fixing their quarterback situation, providing their quarterbacks with talented receiving and running back corps, and building a budding defense, they're still a flawed football team. They've probably fixed enough of those flaws to become competitive in the near future and if things break right, maybe even compete for a wild-card spot (maybe), but they've still got problems. On offense, the line might be their biggest one. 

Stephenson's retirement didn't create the problem. But it certainly didn't help fix it either.