The Cleveland Browns traded one veteran defensive tackle for another, releasing Desmond Bryant and signing former Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Brandon Thompson.
Thompson was released by the Bengals on August 20 after spending five seasons with Cincinnati. The former Bengals third-round pick finished his time there with 34 total tackles and three sacks in seven starts. He appeared in 39 total games.
His release by Cincinnati was abrupt but not completely unexpected. Thompson missed the 2016 season after tearing his ACL in the final game of the 2015 season. The team liked him enough to restructure his contract to keep him around, but ultimately went in a different direction.
Thompson’s not known as a pass-rusher, and not particularly proficient as a gap-filler when lined up over center in a nose or shaded technique. He’s more of a rotational player who can create interior burst when lined up between a tackle and guard, or straight over a guard. This makes him fit well as a replacement for Bryant, especially because he gives the Browns another veteran presence on a defensive line filled with youth. He may not be an every-down type of player, but what he brings is experience and proven performance as a rotational interior presence.
Here’s a blurb from ESPN about Thompson’s impact on Cincinnati’s run defense in 2014, the only year he was active for a full season.
It was during the 2014 season when he played a key role in the Bengals' rushing defense. According to ESPN Stats & Information, in games when he wasn't on the field that year, the Bengals allowed 4.6 yards per rush. In games that season when Thompson was on the field, the Bengals allowed just 3.1 yards per carry.
Does this signing mean he’ll make the team’s final 53-man roster? Not at all. But it means Bryant wouldn’t have, and the team was clearly looking for a similar player after writing him off. In two preseason games, Bryant didn’t appear to be best-suited for the role Gregg Williams had in mind for him, that or he hasn’t fully recovered from the torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him for the entire 2016 season. Either way, he was noticeably getting beat on the field.
In any event, the Browns have moved on and have welcomed Thompson to their defensive line rotation. We’ll see if he can stick.