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Browns sign DT Malik McDowell

McDowell has had his share of off-field issues, which makes the signing a bit out of character for general manager Andrew Berry.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns signed free agent defensive tackle Malik McDowell on Monday.

The McDowell signing definitely falls into the category of uncharacteristic for general manager Andrew Berry as McDowell does not exactly fit into the team’s mantra of “smart, tough and accountable.”

Since being selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, McDowell has yet to play a down in the NFL. However, he has found time to:

  • crash a Yamaha 4-wheeler just a few weeks after his 21st birthday that left him with a head injury
  • be arrested for possessing a stolen truck
  • be arrested three times for incidents involving alcohol, including one where he was reportedly clocked by a police officer going 106 MPH and subsequently having a blood alcohol level at 0.12
  • be suspended by the NFL for two games in 2019 after one of his alcohol-related arrests
  • be sued by the Seahawks for failing to repay his signing bonus

Those are the highlights; the full details of McDowell’s off-field issues can be found in this Detroit Free Press article from 2019.

Despite knowing all that, Berry said the Browns believe that McDowell is in a “good place, personally and medically,” which is why the club is taking a chance on him, according to clevelandbrowns.com:

“We are certainly aware of Malik’s past, as we have done extensive work on him for the last two months. He is accountable for his actions and has had to live with the consequences for decisions earlier in his life. We believe Malik is in a good place, personally and medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, and has learned from his experiences. Malik understands the expectations we have of him as he attempts to make our football team. He is committed to taking advantage of the support network in place to become the best version of himself—both on and off the field—and we will support him as he attempts to make his return to football.”

Berry has earned the benefit of the doubt for the work he has done in reshaping the Browns roster the past two seasons. And while contract details were not announced, there is certainly no way that Berry put any financial risk into the deal with McDowell.

Still, it seems like a potential headache that the Browns do not need as they head into a 2021 season where they will have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations for the first time since the late 1980s.