Browns Projected to Sign Volatile Free Agent Defensive Lineman

Ndamukong Suh

Getty Images Free agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The Cleveland Browns need an upgrade at defensive tackle and five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh could be the answer.

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft spent the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing an integral role on the defensive line. He started 49 contests for the Bucs over that span — not missing a game — totaling 112 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 14.5 sacks.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell said he believes Suh could provide a reliable veteran presence in the middle of their line alongside defensive end Myles Garrett.

“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 in a story published May 12. “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. Re-signing edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney to play alongside Suh would be a logical follow-up.”

Browns Still Have Holes Along Defensive Line

The team has done little in free agency and the draft to address its need at defensive tackle. The Browns did sign former first-round pick Taven Bryan, but he’s far from a proven commodity in the NFL, never starting more than eight games in a season in four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Neither of the team’s starters from last season are projected to return to Cleveland. Veteran Malik Jackson, 32, was on a one-year deal and didn’t have an overly impressive season in 2021 and Malik McDowell, who started at the other defensive tackle spot, was arrested in January after a bizarre naked encounter with police. He’s not expected back on the Browns.

McDowell could have continued to play a key role for the Browns if it wasn’t for his off-field troubles. He started 14 games, notching 33 tackles and three sacks. As it stands, Bryan, Tommy Togiai, Jordan Elliott, Sheldon Day and fourth-round rookie Perrion Winfrey would be in the mix at defensive tackle.

As for Suh, a return to the Bucs seems less likely after the team drafted Logan Hall with their first pick last month.

“The Bucs were lukewarm to defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh even before they used their top draft pick on a player at his position in Logan Hall,” Greg Auman of The Athletic wrote in a story published May 5. “To sign him now would be to actively chip into Hall’s role before they’ve even seen what he can do. Bucs GM Jason Licht said he wasn’t shutting the door on signing Suh, but then said, ‘There are a lot of injuries that happen throughout the year,’ suggesting he might only be an option in case of a serious injury.”

Browns Still Eyeing Jadeveon Clowney

Another key piece the Browns are hoping to wrangle for their defensive line is Jadeveon Clowney, who is coming off a strong season in Cleveland but has yet to figure out his next move as a free agent.

Browns insider Mary Kay Cabot of noted in a May 8 article that the team could be close to bringing back Clowney, despite using the No. 78 overall pick on UAB pass rusher Alex Wright.

“While Landry is all but gone, Clowney could be back in the fold soon,” Cabot wrote. “The selection of Alex Wright out of UAB at No. 78 in the third round doesn’t preclude the re-signing of Clowney — although it makes it a little less urgent. The Browns are excited about Wright and believe he has some of the best upside potential of their nine picks.”

Clowney notched nine sacks last season, good for second on the team behind Garrett. He was highly effective as a run-stopper as well and managed to stay relatively healthy compared to year’s past.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x