Cleveland- Free agency started this week and the Cleveland Browns were active. Most people wanted the Browns to go after a big time wide receiver or a big name interior defensive linemen. Cleveland didn’t do either of those, in terms of the big-name aspect.
Improving the run-defense
What they did do was sign defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who recently played for the Minnesota Vikings from 2021 and 2022, was originally drafted by the New York Giants in the 2017 NFL draft. Tomlinson’s deal is four years and $57 million. $27 million of that is guaranteed.
Many Cleveland fans wanted the Browns to sign now former Denver Bronco and current Seattle Seahawks linemen Dre’mont Jones. With Jones headed to Seattle, Cleveland turned to a player who I feel is better against the run and is a better pass-rusher than Jones. This move will hopefully help the Browns improve a run-defense that was ranked near the bottom of the NFL.
With the departure of Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland needed someone to replace him opposite Myles Garrett. The Browns decided to sign defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to a three-year deal. The Browns are going to need Okoronkwo to show that last season, which was his best season with five sacks, was just the surface of him only getting better. Cleveland needs closer to nine sacks or more from Okoronkwo. The Browns need production right away as they await third-round pick Alex Wright to develop.
A signing that I really loved and might be the most excited about, is the re-signing of center Ethan Pocic. After projected starter Nick Harris went down with a season ending injury, Pocic came in and played great. If Nick Harris can get healthy again, this could also give the Browns quality depth at a key position on the offensive line. I didn’t think that Cleveland would bring back Pocic, but I’m sure glad they did.
Improving the Defense
After the Browns decided the release safety John Johnson III, that left another hole to fill on the defense. Cleveland turned their attention to Juan Thornhill of the Kansas City Chiefs. Thornhill, from what I’ve read and have heard, is trending upward. He isn’t a pro-bowl type player, but makes good reads and is becoming a good safety. Thornhill started 52 games for the Chiefs and will play next to fellow safety Grant Delpit. Cleveland needs this the entire secondary to avoid having so many blown coverages and miscommunications that cost them at least two games last year.
The Cleveland Browns were able to bring back linebacker Sione Takitaki. Takitaki’s new deal is one-year at just under $2.6 million. Last year, Takitaki was given a chance to play inside linebacker and showing signs of turning the corner, but then tore his ACL. He’ll be ready to go at the start and this is his chance to prove he deserves a long-term extension.
More help for the defensive line was brought in and you can quickly tell what new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is trying to do. Get more pressure on the quarterback from just the front four. Cleveland also signed defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. If Hurst can stay healthy, he only played two games last season, he has shown that he can make a difference, especially when it comes to the run defense.
A former second-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, Trysten Hill was brought in to bolster the defensive line. Hill has battled injuries and that’s the main reason Cleveland signed him to a one-year deal. If he can stay healthy and be productive, that’s a great under the radar signing by Cleveland.
Adding a target for Watson
Cleveland is trying to help starting quarterback Deshaun Watson feel as comfortable as possible and one way of doing that is by bringing in a familiar face in at tight end. The Browns went out and signed Jordan Akins. In 2020, Watson’s last season in Houston, Akins caught 37 passes for 403 yards. This past season, Akins caught 37 passes for 495 yards. This now gives the Browns three tight ends on their roster with David Njoku and backup Harrison Bryant.
I’m glad that Cleveland addressed the defensive line. The Browns desperately need to improve on their run defense. The game in Atlanta really still sticks out to me, considering the Atlanta Falcons only passed the ball once in the entire second half and ran the ball all over Cleveland.
This will also hopefully help Cleveland get more consistent pass rush without having to blitz. That would help the secondary in return.
Cleveland will have to either trade for a big-time wide receiver or use the 42nd pick in the draft on one. While there are some talented receivers that are available through trade only, do the Browns trade away even more draft capital and/or a player to acquire a wide receiver? Time will tell.
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March 18, 2023 at 9:16 pm
l am so proud of you. Thank you for the updates.
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