I apologize for the delay in reporting, as I was quite busy this past week. The day before free agency started, I stated that I would be happy if the Browns signed defensive end Robaire Smith as our main addition to the defensive line. Several weeks later, the Browns came through by signing him to a four-year deal. Smith, originally a sixth-round draft choice in 2000 by the Tennessee Titans, played with the Houston Texans for two years before going back to the Titans last season. Smith played in 12 games last year and recorded 76 tackles and half of a sack. Although those aren't eye-popping stats necessarily, I believe he will be a much better fit in the 3-4 defense than Alvin McKinley was.
So, at the moment our defensive line looks like this:
Right End: Robaire Smith
D. Tackle: Ted Washington
Left End: Orpheus Roye
For the Browns defensive line playing the run so poorly last season, it's tough to say that Smith could actually make a significant difference over McKinley. Washington won't be better than he was last year, and it's hard to claim that Roye will suddenly revert back to his prime. That means that the Browns better continue their development of young defensive linemen, which was started by the "official" signing of defensive tackle Shaun Smith
on Friday. The Cincinnati Bengals failed to match his four-year offer sheet that the Browns gave him. Smith had been with the Bengals as a backup in their 4-3 system for the past three seasons, and Browns general manager Phil Savage
believes he will help the team's run defense, and will even compete with Washington for a starting role.
"We feel he is a player with upside who can help us improve our run defense," Savage said.
The Browns have acquired these players since the start of free agency: Shaun Smith, Robaire Smith, Eric Steinbach
, Jamal Lewis
, Seth McKinney
, Antwaan Peek
, Kenny Wright
, and Tim Carter
. In that group, I believe we picked up five starters, with Smith at defensive end, Steinbach at guard, Lewis at running back, Peek at linebacker, and Carter at punt returner. McKinney and Smith should provide some much-needed depth on opposite ends of the line, while Wright is still the only guy that really doesn't seem as if he'd make much more of a difference than Ralph Brown
In one interesting tidbit before I sign off, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting that the Browns are one of four teams interested in trading for Miami Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare. I like Phil Dawson, but I'm sure that Romeo Crennel and company weren't too pleased with some of Dawson's misses last season.