Odell Beckham Jr. will attract all of the attention in Cleveland this offseason after the Browns pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire his services. Still, let’s take a quick look at what the Browns have done with the defense thus far.
While they have only made a few moves on the defensive side of the ball so far this offseason, they are sneakily becoming something special on the defensive side, too, and they may not be done just yet. Let’s dive right on in and see what all the fuss should be about in Cleveland this offseason.
On March 16, linebacker Jamie Collins was cut after a 2018 season in which he led the team in tackles with 104, while also notching four sacks and an interception.
Then, on March 13, safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler, a 2019 first-round draft pick (No. 17), and a 2019 third-round draft pick (No. 95) were traded to the New York Giants for All-Pro wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and Pro Bowl defensive end Olivier Vernon.
Vernon will make an immediate impact on the defensive line. His presence will force opposing offenses to account for more than just 2nd Team All-Pro Myles Garrett. This should free Garrett up from double teams more often and allow him to get at the quarterback even more.
On March 14, Cleveland added depth to the linebacking unit by signing Adarius Taylor to a two-year, $15 million deal. Taylor spent the past four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Throughout his career Taylor has appeared in 60 games with 16 starts, recording 108 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.
They later fortified the defensive line by adding another Pro Bowler in defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, inking him to a three-year, $39 million contract. In 2018, Richardson was with the Minnesota Vikings and amassed 4.5 sacks and 49 tackles in 16 games while boasting the league’s second-best rushing attack in which he only allowed 83.6 yards per game.
One thing is for certain: the city of Cleveland, the Browns’ fan base, and the franchise’s brass wants to win. And they want to win now.
Don’t think the Browns are done signing depth players or done looking into upgrading at any position just yet. Cleveland still has $35 million in cap space to play with. NFL teams typically save $5 million for the draft and around $5 million for the regular season in case players go down and they need to replace them.
So, with roughly $25 million left in cap space, general manager John Dorsey could have more tricks up his sleeve.
The Cleveland Browns are clearly winning the offseason, but only time will tell if that translates into the regular season when it really matters.
It all looks good on paper, and with newly-hired defensive coordinator, Steve Wilks, on board, it may just be safe for the Cleveland Browns’ fan base to go ahead and get excited.
Prepare yourselves. 2019 may just be the year of the DawgPound!