The team announced that they had signed Zimmer to the active roster on Tuesday.
Zimmer comes in at 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. He is a second-year player out of Ferris State and was a member of the Falcons’ practice squad during the first 13 weeks of the season. Zimmer was originally signed by the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2016, but has been with the Falcons since 2018.
Zimmer also spent part of 2017 with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League after being waived by the New Orleans Saints during final roster cuts. He will wear No. 99 with the Browns, which was previously worn by defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence, who was waived last week.
Lawrence appeared in all 11 games this season with two starts. He recorded eight tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He played on 29 percent of Cleveland’s defensive snaps this season as one of the primary backup at defensive tackle before being let go. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs this week.
Zimmer slides into the rotation behind starters Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi. Eli Ankou and Brandin Bryant are slated into backup roles on the Browns depth chart.
Browns Waive Chris Smith to Make Room
To make room for Zimmer, the Browns waived veteran defensive end Chris Smith on Tuesday.
It was a bad sign for Smith that he was inactive during Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, and the team chose to go another direction soon after. Smith played in nine games this season, but registered just one tackle. He played 149 snaps, roughly 20 percent of the defensive plays. Smith also saw some time on special teams.
Smith, a former fifth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2014, signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in 2018. He played in 25 games with two starts. He collected 22 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble during his tenure and saw action in nine games this season.
Smith had been dealing with the tragic death of his girlfriend Petara Cordero, who was struck and killed by a driver on the highway in September after a tire on his Lamborghini reportedly blew out and hit a median. The couple had a newborn daughter, Haven Harris Smith, who was just a month old at the time of the accident.
The Browns are not deep at defensive end, with Chad Thomas and Olivier Vernon holding down the starting roles. Porter Gustin and Bryan Cox are new additions, but have been forced into playing time with Vernon banged up. Pro Bowler Myles Garrett is suspended for the season for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet during a brawl.
Browns Signs Linebacker Trevon Young to Practice Squad
In addition to adding Zimmer to the active roster, the Browns signed Young to the practice squad after hosting him for a tryout.
Young was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the sixth round (205th overall) in 2018. He appeared in two games as a rookie last season, posting one fumble recovery.