NFL Execs: Browns’ Myles Garrett No Longer Top Rushing Threat

Getty Images Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns.

The Cleveland Browns have one of the best edge rushers in the NFL on their roster — the key words in that sentence being “one of.”

July, perhaps the one month of moderate reprieve from a calendar otherwise overflowing with sports content, breeds some of the lists fans adore compiling and bickering back and forth about so fervently.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler provided the Browns faithful the opportunity to do just that last week when he released rankings of the league’s top pass rushers as voted on by front office executives around the NFL. The primary sticking point in Cleveland: Myles Garrett is no longer ranked No. 1.

“He still gets chipped and extra help/slides his way, but it’s not what it used to be,” an AFC front-office official told Fowler. “That helps explain his recent dominance.”

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Myles Garrett Ranked Behind AFC North Division Rival T.J. Watt

TJWatt

GettyPittsburgh Steelers edge T.J. Watt is considered the best pass rusher in the NFL based on the collective opinion of front office executives.

Garrett was still high on the list, coming in at No. 2 after winning the unofficial honor as the NFL’s best edge rusher last summer. He was surpassed in the hierarchy of quarterback squashers by T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who tied the all-time single-season record in 2021 with 22.5 sacks and was unanimously named the AP Defensive Player of the Year.

Still, Fowler said Garrett’s case for the top spot remained relatively strong considering the historic year Watt produced last season.

Garrett made a compelling case for a second consecutive No. 1 ranking thanks to 16 sacks and a first team All-Pro spot. Plus, Garrett’s 26.5% pass rush win rate led all defensive ends in 2021. Simply put, he’s one of the best athletes on the planet, and everyone on the field feels it.

The knock on Garrett two years ago was that he could disappear at times during the season, failing to impose his will on some Sundays. But the Browns know he was facing double- and triple-teams back then. Having Jadeveon Clowney on the bookend is huge in keeping defenses honest and allowing Garrett to get after the QB.

“When [Garrett is] on, one-on-one, he’s unblockable,” an AFC offensive coach told Fowler.

Following Clowney on the list in third place was Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers, his brother Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers, and Maxx Crosby of the Las Vegas Raiders.


Browns Have Money to Invest in Defensive Interior This Offseason

Getty ImagesDefensive end Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns high-fives teammate Jadeveon Clowney.

While the Browns are mighty on the edge, boasting a combined 25 sacks between Garrett and Clowney last season, there is plenty of room for improvement up the middle.

Cleveland’s defensive interior struggled last season before moving on from both starting tackles, Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell, ahead of 2022. Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin remained positive, however, when discussing his front’s potential this upcoming season.

“We addressed [the position] in free agency with Taven [Bryan], and we addressed it in the draft with Perrion [Winfrey],” Kiffin told Browns staff writer Anthony Poisal on June 10. “We also expect guys to take that next step with Tommy Togiai and Jordan Elliott. They know they’ve got to step up their game and their time is coming.”

The Browns led the NFL in available salary cap space before trading Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers last week. The team now has nearly $48.5 million at their disposal, should they care to use any of it to bolster the line, which is perhaps the only weak link in an otherwise formidable defense.

Cleveland could also use wide receiver help and may need to consider adding another quarterback, depending on whether Deshaun Watson faces a suspension and how long that punishment persists into the season, should one be handed down. One option would be to trade for Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, an expensive move that might make sense if Watson is forced to sit for the majority, or the entirety, of the year.

However, the Browns may also be interested in rolling some of that cap space over into next season when some of the pricier acquisitions and extensions they made this year will become more expensive.

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