We are currently in process of doing brief reviews of all of the free agents on the Cleveland Browns. With all of the offensive players covered, today we start taking a look at the defensive side of the ball.
How and When He Joined the Minnesota Vikings were stacked at the defensive line position, and while Mitchell showed promise as a pass rushing defensive end, he never received an opportunity to play very much. Tom Heckert had his eye on Mitchell and went out and acquired him for a draft pick in 2012. As far as I know, it is not yet known which round the pick will be in, and it might be conditional (i.e. if he signs with the team and plays this season).: The
Productivity Level Last Season: There was no productivity for Mitchell. For all of the times I got "pumped up" to believe Mitchell would play toward the end of the season, Eric Mangini refused to play him. This was something that confused Heckert, and he let the media know about it back in February:
Heckert described this one [Mitchell not seeing the field] as "bizarre." "He was by far our best pass rusher and never got on the field, so I can't answer that one," Heckert said. "Eric watched him [on tape prior to the trade] and Eric liked him. So I don't know what happened after that. He's a nickel pass rusher on third down. We thought he could really rush the passer."
Why Keeping Him Could Make Sense: For one, if Heckert believes he was the team's best pass rusher next season, then I would love to see if he can turn out to be a starting defensive end in the 4-3 defense. Not only would it save the Browns from spending money on a free agent defensive end, it would allow them to upgrade at a position like safety or linebacker instead. Mitchell produced in the limited time he saw the field in Minnesota, and I truly believe the reason he didn't play more there is due to the guys ahead of him (come on, was he going to play over a Jared Allen?).
What the Browns Should Do: While he hasn't made a commitment to a guy like Lawrence Vickers, Heckert has already come out and said that the team plans on re-signing Mitchell once the lockout ends. It would be a complete waste to let him go without seeing what he has to offer, and it definitely feels like Mitchell is "Heckert's guy." If Mitchell turns into a quality starter, this will look like a genius move by Heckert. It he doesn't, then at least we didn't waste too much (a low-round draft pick). I am 100% on board with keeping Mitchell.
Now it's your turn -- vote in the poll below on whether or not the team should try to re-sign Jayme Mitchell!