Browns Urged to Add Recently Waived First-Round Draft Pick

Jerry Tillery, Chargers

Getty DT Jerry Tillery, formerly of the Los Angeles Chargers, looks on during pregame warmups prior to a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns will welcome back Pro Bowler Denzel Ward into their starting lineup on Sunday, but several holes on the roster remain.

The Browns’ deficiencies include the middle of the defensive line, which was predicted as a problem area since before preseason workouts even began. Cleveland chose to stand pat with Taven Bryan and Jordan Elliott at the defensive tackle spots, ignoring an opportunity to add free agent and five-time All Pro Ndamukong Suh. Then on Thursday, another chance to add talent to the interior fell into the Browns’ lap.

The Los Angeles Chargers released defensive lineman Jerry Tillery on November 10. A former first-round draft pick in 2019, Tillery was linked the the Browns as an option ahead of the NFL’s November 1 trade deadline, though the team ultimately chose not to make a deal.

Cleveland has had a largely disappointing season through eight games, which may have contributed to their inactivity on the trade market. But the Browns did hand the Cincinnati Bengals a sound defeat in Week 8 to move to 3-5.

Had they lost, the Browns may have remained entirely uninterested in spending any more money on free agents in 2022, with quarterback Deshaun Watson still three games out from his return. Now, however, a win against the Miami Dolphins would keep Cleveland in competitive position for a Wildcard berth in the AFC. The Browns are 3.5-point underdogs on the road this Sunday coming off of a bye week.

Tillery Represents Upside to Browns With Minimal Risk

Jerry Tillery

Getty ImagesDefensive linemen Joey Bosa (left) and Jerry Tillery (right) of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrate a play.

Hope for the season may loosen general manager Andrew Berry’s grip on the Browns’ remaining $33.2 million in available cap space. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the timing of Tillery’s release will allow Cleveland to play this weekend before deciding whether to put a waiver wire claim in on Tillery.

“DL Jerry Tillery will not officially be waived until Friday, which means he cannot be claimed until Monday,” Schefter tweeted. “Considering that multiple teams expressed interest in trading for him before the deadline, Tillery is expected to be claimed.”

The tackle is owed just over $1 million on the remainder of his contract, which expires after this season because the Chargers chose not to exercise the fifth-year option on Tillery’s rookie deal.

Tillery Would Immediately Become Highest-Rated DT on Browns Roster

Taven Bryan, Browns

GettyDT Taven Bryan of the Cleveland Browns reacts after K Greg Zuerlein of the New York Jets makes a 57-yard field goal during the fourth quarter of a game at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Berry has a history of making moves for first-round talents who failed to live up to their draft positions at their first stops in the NFL. Bryan, one of the team’s two starting defensive tackles is one such player. Cleveland added him to the roster after four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tillery stands at six-feet, six-inches tall and weighs 295 pounds. He has appeared in 54 games in Los Angeles, starting 29 of those. The DL has amassed 106 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, 33 quarterback hits, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two passes defensed and one recovered fumble over the course of his career.

Despite Tillery’s underachievement as a member of the Chargers, he would still join the Browns as by far the best interior lineman on the roster. Tillery has earned an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 61.5 thus far in 2022. Bryan leads all Cleveland DTs with a PFF grade of 53.6, followed by Perrion Winfrey at 45.6, Tommy Togiai at 36.4 and Elliott at an abysmal 33.6.

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