The Cleveland Browns run defense is one of the worst in the NFL headlined by one of the worst defensive tackle groups in the league. GM Andrew Berry has not valued the position at a high level since coming into power in 2020. He’s spent midround picks and limited finances on the position leading to a young, poorly playing group.
Perhaps some of the young guys like Tommy Togiai and Perrion Winfrey will develop into something better than they currently are but, for now, the group as a whole has significant needs.
With Deion Jones added to the linebacker room, perhaps Berry will now take a look at free agents available at defensive tackle. The list is quite limited but still could find a veteran player that can help against the run.
Before sharing the list, we have to talk about the biggest name on the list: Ndamukong Suh. Suh is a veteran with a lot of great experience under his belt but is not the run defender needed on the team. Last year, Suh played primarily as a pass rusher. Suh graded out poorly overall for Pro Football Focus and especially as a run defender.
Adding Suh, especially for what is assumed to be a high price tag, wouldn’t help the run defense at all and would eat into the team’s salary cap for next year by using some of this year’s cap that would roll over.
Adding Suh and a stout run defender, both on small veteran contracts, could be the best-case scenario but seems unlikely.
Here are some of the other free-agent defensive tackles, and their ages, right now in the NFL. A lot of interesting names passed their primes:
Brandon Williams - 33
Linval Joseph - 34
Vernon Butler - 28
Star Lotulelei - 32
Sheldon Richardson - 31
Malik Jackson - 32
Tyeler Davison - 30
Shamar Stephen - 31
A few names that you might know but not a lot of impacted excepted from the group. Perhaps Berry can find lightning in a bottle with a veteran who got to rest much of the offseason and now is fresh and ready to contribute for the last 12 games of the year. Perhaps hope comes from another low-level trade with a team looking to wash their hands of a player that doesn’t fit them anymore.
Better play in the middle of the defensive line is necessary for Cleveland’s run defense to improve. Young players developing or a veteran addition must occur for that to happen.
Any of the above free agents interest you to stop the run?