The Cleveland Browns took a hit along the defensive line on Tuesday when defensive tackle Andrew Billings announced that he was opting out of the 2020 season.
Billings, who was signed in the offseason as a free agent, was presumed to be line to join incumbent starters Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi as part of a stout three-man rotation at defensive tackle, with rookie Jordan Elliott joining in.
Even though the news throws a twist into the best-laid plans of the Browns, general manager Andrew Berry is still optimistic about the position group, according to clevelandbrowns.com:
“... we believe in having depth along the defensive line. We think that we have a number of guys who are really talented players. We have added a number over the course of the spring. It really is going to be a next man up mentality. It is no different than if you are dealing with an injury in season. We have some younger players that will push for more playing time so we are excited about that. We are excited about the guys that we have internally. Hate to lose Andrew, but certainly understand and are 100 percent supportive of his decision.”
While Elliott clearly falls into the category of “next man up,” the current options on the roster get pretty thin behind him, with the likes of Daniel Ekuale, Eli Ankou and undrafted free agent Jeffery Whatley looking to earn playing time.
The free agent options are not very attractive, either, with Marcell Dareus, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Damon Harrison (Detroit Lions), Corey Liuget (Buffalo Bills), Mike Daniels (Lions) and Timmy Jernigan (Philadelphia Eagles) among a group of players waiting for the phone to ring.
Despite his optimistic tone, Berry will likely look to add another player to the position to make up for the loss of Billings.
Although given how quickly things are changing these days, it may be prudent to wait to make a move until after the reported deadline for player’s to opt out passes at 4 p.m. on Thursday.