Proposed Trade Adds Former 1st-Round Pick to Browns’ Secondary

Grant Delpit, Browns

Getty Grant Delpit #22 of the Cleveland Browns stretches his jaw before the game against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns were expected to struggle on offense this season, but the lackluster performances on defense have come as something of a surprise.

The year began with a few questions about the personnel up the middle of the defense, with an inexperienced interior defensive line and some depth issues at the linebacker position. One unit that was supposed to be rock solid was the secondary, though that has proven a poor assessment through six games.

Cleveland is firmly in the bottom half of the NFL in total passing allowed, surrendering a total of 1,379 yards (21st) for an average of 229.8 yards per game (19th), according to statistics provided by ESPN.

More problematic than that, the Browns have been subject to costly lapses late in games. The secondary gave up a deep, quick-strike touchdown in the fourth quarter of each of its first two contests against the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets, the latter contributing to an improbable loss in Week 2.

Now with a record of 2-3 and staring down the barrel of brutal four-game stretch, the Browns look as though they will need to be active at the trade deadline if they hope to salvage what began as a promising year. That activity may include an upgrade to the secondary in the form of Las Vegas Raiders safety Jonathan Abram.

Browns Top Trade Destination For Raiders’ Safety Jonathan Abram

Jonathan Abram, Raiders

GettyCarl Nassib #94, Erik Harris #25, Jonathan Abram #24 and Trayvon Mullen Jr. #27 of the Las Vegas Raiders celebrate an interception against the New England Patriots during a game at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Abram was listed as the No. 5 prospect on Bleacher Report’s Trade Block Big Board on Wednesday, October 19. The Browns were named among the top candidates for the former first-round draft pick.

The Mississippi State product has started all 33 games in which he has appeared since being drafted at No. 27 overall in 2019.

This season, he has tallied 32 tackles and one pass defended. He has also allowed a career-low opposing passer rating of 93.4 in coverage.

If Cleveland is willing to stay aggressive in the trade market, Abram could also make sense there. The Browns have been plagued by miscommunications in the secondary, and the starting tandem of Grant Delpit and John Johnson III has been far from stellar.

It wouldn’t be a shock if Browns GM Andrew Berry wants to see just what sort of upside Abram has.

Browns Offer Abram Chance at Fresh Start in Struggling Secondary

John Johnson III

Getty ImagesSafety John Johnson III of the Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland offers Abram the opportunity for a fresh start after the Raiders declined to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. That doesn’t necessarily mean the safety wouldn’t return to Vegas next season, but it is a clear statement of the franchise’s position on his value. It also offers Cleveland some leverage in trade negotiations.

Furthermore, Abram could rebuild his value as a member of a Browns secondary full of starters who are struggling this season.

Pro Football Focus ranks Delpit the 68th best safety out of 87 qualifying players at the position, while Johnson slots in at 55th. Abram actually grades out slightly lower than both players overall, though his pass coverage rating is essentially the same as Delpit’s. Abram is a higher-rated pass rusher than both of the Browns’ starting safeties.

Abram’s case in Cleveland is also valid because he represents a potential injection of new energy into a lackluster defense that has allowed opponents to score 27.2 points per game, tied with the Seattle Seahawks for the third-worst mark in the NFL.

Beyond that, miscommunication issues in the secondary have led to calls from fans and the media for Delpit’s benching, as well as to Johnson calling out his teammates publicly on multiple occasions — both signs of dysfunction within a unit that has also been plagued by injury through the first third of the season.

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