Cleveland Browns Sign ILB Karlos Dansby to Anchor the Defense

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns have replaced ILB D'Qwell Jackson with one of the best in the league, ILB Karlos Dansby.

The Cleveland Browns have signed veteran ILB Karlos Dansby, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reported on the terms of the deal:

When the Browns released veteran D'Qwell Jackson, choosing not to pay his bonus, it wasn't because they wanted to get younger at the position -- Dansby is 32 years old, while Jackson is 30 years old. Instead, head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer must have felt, "if we're going to pay a veteran inside linebacker top dollar, then we're going to make sure it's one of the best veteran inside linebackers out there." When it comes to quality, Dansby is the very definition of that. Pro Football Focus had Dansby rated as their No. 1 free agent linebacker this offseason:

Dansby played probably his best season in his tenth year in the league last year. Partnering with Daryl Washington in the middle, the duo made the best pair of cover linebackers in the league and seemed a perfect fit for Todd Bowles’ 3-4 schemes. Overall, Dansby was our third ranked inside linebacker in coverage (+9.5 grade) allowing just a QB rating of 75.0 with a staggering 10 pass deflections in coverage, the second most at the position in the last six years. Dansby also made plays, grabbing four interceptions and bringing the QB down eight times.

Unlike his partner, the former Dolphin was also able to make plays in the run game, recording more stops in 2013 (63) than he did in 2012 (59). He was by no mean greats in that department (+1.6) but, combined with his quality in coverage and efficiency when blitzing, Dansby’s versatility ensured him a top five place in our inside linebacker rankings.

While Jackson was an above average linebacker, with Dansby, the Browns are getting a physical player who is among the best in the game against both the pass and the run. Kent Somer, who covers the Arizona Cardinals, says that the deal includes $10 million in 2014.

This whole offseason, we said that the Browns had the luxury to front-load deals in 2014 because of all the cap space they had. The benefit of front-loading deals? Players become easy to cut later on if they are washed up. Even if they are still good, they count less against the cap, so you can continue to be in good shape cap-wise for future years.

Dansby's teammates are upset to see him go:

What do you think of the Browns signing Dansby? Remember, our non-stop live coverage of Browns free agency news is in our live blog today!

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