When the season begins, every team is ready to start their quest for the playoffs and perhaps a division title.
But you have to go through stuff to really gel as a team. That is when the veterans are relied upon to get the roster together and focused. They know things happen, and it is what happens next that either allows the franchise to continue to move forward or fall apart.
For the remainder of the season, the Cleveland Browns have already lost the following starters: RT tackle Jack Conklin, RB Nick Chubb, QB Deshaun Watson, and KR Jakeem Grant. Backups include LB Jacob Phillips, Jordan Kunaszyk, OG Drew Forbes, WR Michael Woods, and CB Cameron Mitchell.
Then after Sunday’s victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the coaching staff found out that S Rodney McLeod was going to be added to this list.
The others are certainly heartbreaking, but McLeod was as steady as they came on this elite defense. The seasoned veteran was quietly having a very good season which was not gauged on tackles, interceptions, sacks, or any other defensive stats. He was a defensive leader, a tutor, a coach on the field.
McLeod suffered a biceps injury in the fourth quarter of the Pittsburgh win and will need to have surgery to repair it. He has since been added to IR and will remain there for the remainder of the season. To add to this disaster, the other starting safety Juan Thornhill was inactive for the Steelers game with a calf injury.
That leaves D’Anthony Bell and rookie Ronnie Hickman on the field to join starter Grant Delpit as the other safeties on the roster besides practice squad members Vincent Gray and Tanner McCallister.
On Tuesday, the Browns placed McLeod on IR and have not signed a player to take his place which leaves a roster spot open. To add more depth to the safety room, the Browns should look to the free-agent market.
Not that this new player has to come in and be the starter, or even get a ton or snaps. But at least there would be another warm body to fill the position. Bell and Hickman may become the new McLeod, and then again, maybe not. Perhaps the Browns will simply bring up either Gray or McCallister to the main roster. If not, they will need to sign someone.
Here are five safeties Cleveland could sign to the active roster:
Landon Collins (6’-0”, 225 pounds)
Collins is a former second-round draft pick of the New York Football Giants and started right off. He was a track star in high school and a five-star recruit in football. After a stellar career at Alabama where he was named Unanimous All-American, he has been named to the Pro Bowl three times and First Team All-Pro in 2016.
He is a very good tackler and had 112, 125, 104, and 96 total tackles in his first four seasons in the league with eight interceptions. He then signed a six-year $84 million contract with Washington where he played more of a hybrid role of linebacker/safety. In his first season, he recorded 117 tackles. In 2021 he suffered a foot injury which he only played seven games with 81 tackles. After the season he was a post-June 1 release.
After signing again with the Giants, Collins only played in six games with one start. His career stats are 95 starts in 100 games active, 12 picks, 691 total tackles, 42 tackles for loss, 17 QB hits, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, 41 pass defenses, and two defensive touchdowns. His Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade in 2022 was 65.0.
LaMarcus Joyner (5’-8”, 185 pounds)
Another second-round draft pick in 2014, this time with the St. Louis Rams, Joyner was an All-American at Florida State as well as a Two Time First Team All-ACC.
He is a steady tackler but has never broken the 100-tackles per season threshold yet with 78 being his highest number in a single season. He played for the New York Jets from 2021-2022 and had 57 tackles last year with three interceptions and six batted passes. He has 4.55 speed in the 40.
In 2022, Joyner’s PFF grade was 57.0. The best part of this play is his run defense where he finds a way to get involved at a frequent rate for a safety. He is better in the slot or free safety. Joiner is able to read plays in a hurry and has good hands. He does lack elite speed and struggles with bigger receivers. His decision-making on certain plays is all over the map. He is also a return man.
Andrew Adams (5’-11”, 205 pounds)
Adams is currently on the Baltimore Ravens practice squad, which the Browns just released RB John Kelly so there is a spot open on the main roster as well as the PS for Adams.
While with the Tennessee Titans in 2022, he had a productive season with 62 tackles, one pick, and three pass defenses. Adams is a team leader and very strong. He does lack vertical ability but has versatility as he can be moved throughout the secondary.
Logan Ryan (5’-11”, 195 pounds)
A former All-American, Ryan captured two Super Bowl rings while a member of the New England Patriots. He is a seasoned veteran who can replace the coach on the field.
He played for the Buccaneers last season and had 37 tackles in six starts after a foot injury sidelined him. The year before he netted 117 total tackles while with the Giants. He is a sure tackler and is good against the run. His 40 time is 4.56.
Ryan has had several very productive seasons twice going over the 100-tackle mark. His career stats are 742 total tackles, 19 interceptions, 13 sacks, 98 pass defenses, 15 forced fumbles, and 26 QB hits. His 2022 PFF grade was 69.1.
He has very good ball skills with man coverage ability. Excellent against the run with a ton of experience. He does need to improve his jam abilities and is not as quick as he used to be. But Ryan is a solid defender.
Andrew Sendejo (6’-1”, 210 pounds)
Sendejo made national news back in this year’s training camp when he declared that the Browns would never make the playoffs without him. Current Browns safety Juan Thornhill then offered a reply.
The post he made on Instagram was pretty humorous considering when he suited up for Cleveland every Browns fan despised him generally for being a poor tackler. When he was thrust into a larger role with the defense, he just wasn’t very good.
Currently, Cleveland is slotted as the Number 5 seed in the AFC with almost half of their season remaining, so at the moment Sendejo’s prophecy isn’t holding any water. And yes, this was a “just kidding” entry, so chill.
What should the Browns do at the safety position?
This poll is closed
Sign Landon Collins
Sign LaMarcus Joyner
Sign Andrew Adams
Sign Logan Ryan
Sign another free agent not featured
Make either D’Anthony Bell or Ronnie Hickman the new Rodney McLeod
After taking our poll, join the conversation in the comment section to discuss the Browns need at safety: