Billings has started all but two games the last two seasons for the Bengals. Last season he collected 35 tackles and one sack. Billings deal is for one-year, $3.5 million, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
Billings adds some major power in the middle of the Browns defensive line at 6-foot, 311 pounds. He joins starters Larry Ogunjobi (6-3, 304) and Sheldon Richardson (6-3, 294) in the rotation.
During his introductory press conference, Browns defensive coordinator said the Browns will run a 4-3, which needs some beef at the tackle positions.
“I think you want to make sure that you’re putting the guys that you have in the right position to make plays,” Woods said. “I know the personnel here is tailored toward a 4-3 scheme, which I’m very comfortable with. We’ll stay with the 4-3 system here and focus on putting the guys in the right positions to make plays.”
Browns Continue to Add Short-Term Deals on Defense
Billings was the third one-year deal the Browns have added on defense this week.
Former first-round pick safety Karl Joseph was signed on Thursday by the Browns, bolstering a position that was a major need for the Browns. Morgan Burnett, Juston Burris and Eric Murray are all not going to be back next season. Last season’s safety, Damarious Randall, is an unrestricted free agent, but has yet to sign anywhere.
Joseph started at least eight games every season while with the Raiders, including nine his rookie year. Last season, Joseph had started all nine games before a foot injury ended his season.
In 41 career starts, Joseph has 236 total tackles, four interceptions and 15 passes defended. His coverage skills could use work, but Joseph is a solid in the box safety that isn’t scared to make a tackle.
The Browns also signed inside linebacker B.J. Goodson to a one-year contract. Goodson played 254 snaps last season on defense in Green Bay and also contributed on special teams. He started nine of his 15 games with the Packers, finishing with 37 tackles. He started 20 games in the two previous seasons combined with the New York Giants. Goodson totaled 114 tackles in those games.
The Browns are opting to go shorter on deals because multiple cornerstone players will need new deals in the coming years.
Browns Not Done Adding on Defense: Report
The Browns are still searching for pieces on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, Jake Trotter of ESPN. The team is prioritizing their search for a pass-rusher, safety and nickel corner.
The Browns made a big splash to open free agency on the offensive side of the ball, inking Jack Conklin, Case Keenum and tight end Austin Hooper to contracts. Hooper’s four-year deal worth $42 million made him the highest paid TE in football.
Hooper set career highs last season with 75 receptions, 787 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. New head coach Kevin Stefanski was previously the offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, utilizing two tight end sets often. With Njoku and Hooper, the Browns have two high-level pass-catchers at the positions.