By now, we all know the offensive line is a massive need if we want to take the next step. Ask anyone about the defensive needs, and you will hear they need a safety, or now a linebacker. The most significant way for the Browns to help both of those positions is getter better on the defensive line. John Dorsey tried to do it last year with the trade for Olivier Vernon and the signing of Sheldon Richardson, and it failed. Now it failing might have been more coaching and lack of depth than actual starting talent. It sill means that something needs to be done to improve that front four.
One of those changes could be defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who is fresh off a Superbowl appearance with the 49ers. The 49ers defense last season was built on having the best line depth in the NFL. They then paired that with an offense than ran the ball down teams throats and made enough plays in the passing game. At the core of the 49ers success though was a front four that went 6-7 deep in talent. Each one of their lineman bringing something to the table and staying rested and ready to go for 60 minutes. Woods is a secondary guy, and even he will likely tell you a great defensive line makes everything else easier. With that being the case, who can the Browns find to beef up that front four?
Robert Quinn, DE, Cowboys
Age: 30 Games Played: 14 Height: 6’4″ Weight: 254
With the rumors circling that the Browns will be sending Olivier Vernon and his $15 million packing, Quinn makes sense as a replacement. In the years has been as a hand in the dirt defensive end, Quinn has been a force to be reckoned. Over those five seasons, Quinn racked up 56.5 sacks for an average of 11.3 per season. During the seasons that Quinn was asked to play as a stand-up edge and some linebacker just 24 sacks. That’s an average of 6 per season. Guess who also seems to love playing with his hand in the dirt, Myles Garrett. Pairing the two in Cleveland could provide the pass rush that the Browns hoped for when getting Vernon last offseason. The negative with Quinn is that he is 30, and he will be looking for a payday.
Max Offer: Four years $32 million/$18.75 guaranteed(All in first two years)
D.J. Reader, DT, Texans
Age: 25 Games Played: 15 Height: 6’3″ Weight: 347
Most of you are asking yourselves, ‘What the heck is he talking about?’ right now. If the Browns are keeping the 4-3 defense, then why sign a 25-year-old starting nose tackle? The reason for him being on the list? Athleticism. D.J. has shown over his time in Houston that he is more than a big run-stuffing nose tackle. Per Pro Football Focus, Reader is coming off his best season with a grade of 85.5. He also had career-highs in pressures with 33 and defensive stops 36 (link to explain stat further). One of the most important stats for a player this big is Reader was able to play over 600 snaps (58%) on the season.
D.J. is capable of stuffing the run incredibly but has shown he can push the pocket with the best of them. The biggest catch here is that the market value on him is $12 million, so decisions would need to be made at defensive tackle.
Max Offer: Four years $43 million/$24.5 guaranteed
Spotrac Market value: $11.9 Million
Shelby Harris, DT, Broncos
Shelby Harris has gone from seventh-round pick to a nice payday this offseason. While the S12.3 million that spotrac has placed his market value may be a bit high he is still an impact player. This is likely based on the fact that Harris has shown to be an elite defender as a high-end reserve(90.8 grade in 2018) to an above-average starter(76.8) in 2019 per Pro Football Focus. Harris did have 27 pressures on the season including six sacks. At the right price he could be a great fit in the middle of the defensive line.
Max Offer: Three years $29.5 million/$17.75 guaranteed
Spotrac Market value: $12.3 Million
Andrew Billings, DT, Bengals
Billings is a perfect fit as a rotational piece to ease the burden on vet Sheldon Richardson. Billings makes plays behind the line of scrimmage with 12 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks over the last two seasons as a starter for the Bengals. While is missed tackle rate of 10.3%(Pro Football Reference) was high last season, Billings could go from average starter to a great rotational piece. He is also only 24 years old and will not require a large contract.
Max Offer: Three years $15.5 million/$6.5 million guaranteed
Tyeler Davison, DT, Falcons
Davison is a veteran that can provide a strong run-stuffing presence for any team. The Browns need a rotational piece that can help slow the run game. This pairing is a perfect match. He will also come cheaper than all of the above and is only 27 years old. Not all players need to be a stud to improve a football team.
Max Offer: Two Years $8.5/2.5 million guaranteed
Quinton Jefferson, DE, Seahawks
Jefferson is coming off back to back solid seasons with the Seahawks as a rotational lineman. He brings the ability to play all over the line at 6’4″ and 294 pounds. Over the last two seasons, Jefferson has 39 pressures and 6.5 sacks in just over 1100 snaps and is only 26 years old. Jefferson is a versatile young player that still has some upside. He could easily be one of the steals of free agency if he can keep the same pace as a starter. Yet, he has the floor of a great depth piece at a reasonable price.
Max Offer: Four years $30 million/$12.75 million guaranteed
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