It’s no secret the Cleveland Browns need help along the interior of their defensive line, and the team does not appear interested in any half-measures to address that weakness.
Instead, the Browns have thrown their hat in the ring for free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The five-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion is being pursued by three contenders this offseason, including his most recent franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report and 247 Sports reported details of Suh’s situation on Sunday, May 15.
A member of the Bucs for the last three years, the 34-year-old Suh has started every regular season contest. A sure-fire Hall of Fame player, Suh has amassed 590 tackles, including 130 for loss, 212 quarterback hits, 70.5 sacks, 38 passes defensed, five forced fumbles, one interception and one safety over the course of his 12-year NFL career.
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Suh Taking Leave of Tampa Bay Would Break With Recent Tradition
The Bucs have been a formidable force since the arrival of quarterback Tom Brady two seasons ago, winning the Super Bowl in 2020 and then the NFC South Division the following year. The Bucs fell in the Divisional Round of the NFC Playoffs in 2021 to the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams due to late game heroics from QB Matthew Stafford, otherwise Suh might well be a two-time defending Super Bowl champ.
Instead, the three-time All-Pro and former No. 2 overall pick of the Detroit Lions is considering doing something that has been quite rare over the last two offseasons — leaving Brady and the Bucs of his own volition for another contender.
While the news from Stainbrook Sunday comes as something of a surprise due to that fact, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell actually predicted a potential move from Suh to Cleveland a few days earlier on May 12.
“Suh might not be the two-way force we saw during his time with the Lions, and the Bucs were careful to reduce his snap rate down from 77% in 2019 to 63% this past season, but he’s still a reliable interior disruptor,” Barnwell wrote. “The man just doesn’t get hurt. Suh hasn’t missed a single game due to injury as a pro across 12 campaigns.”
“With Logan Hall taking his spot in Tampa Bay, getting Suh to Cleveland would make sense for both parties,” Barnwell continued. “Re-signing edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to play alongside Suh would be a logical follow-up.”
Browns D-Line Could Rate Among Best in NFL Next Season
The Browns boasted one of the most fearsome pass rushes in the NFL last season, lining up All-Pro Myles Garrett on one side of the field and complementing their attack with Clowney, a three-time Pro Bowler, on the other.
Together the two amassed a total of 25 sacks to supplement a defense that was solid at the other two levels. Perhaps the Browns’ greatest weakness in 2021, other than an injured Baker Mayfield who alienated the team’s two best receivers in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, was the interior of its defensive line.
Cleveland addressed concerns along the defensive front in the NFL Draft, selecting defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey out of Oklahoma in the fourth round, as well as defensive ends Alex Wright out of UAB and Isaiah Thomas out of Oklahoma in the third and seventh rounds, respectively.
Adding Suh would shore up the middle of the defense and signing Clowney would solidify the edge, thereby cementing all three levels of the defense in Cleveland.
The Browns have offered Clowney a new contract, the most recent details of which included $24 million over the next two seasons. Garrett has also pushed publicly for the team to re-sign his edge partner this offseason, making a deal more likely to get done but not entirely ensuring it.