The Cleveland Browns are not pursuing recently released Seattle Seahawks starter Ryan Neal, per a recent report.
The Seahawks withdrew the restricted free agent tender on Neal, according to ESPN’s Field Yates, which was dubbed as an unexpected move after he started 10 games at strong safety last year for Seattle. The tender was for one year and worth $2.627 million.
Neal notched career highs with 66 tackles, four tackles for loss and eight passes defensed last year covering for an injured Jamal Adams.
Buzz quickly started to build that the Browns could be a suitor for his services, with Cleveland in search of a third safety alongside Juan Thornhill and Grant Delpit.
“The newly available safety Ryan Neal could provide the Browns with an answer at slot. He’s got some experience there as well as a ton in the box,” Pete Smith of Browns Digest tweeted.
Others agreed with that sentiment on Neal.
“Ryan Neal should now be the Browns No. 1 target for their third safety,” Jack Duffin of the Orange and Brown Report tweeted, citing his strong PFF overall grade of 85.6.
Browns Not ‘In Market’ For Ryan Neal: Report
However, Browns insider Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report said that Neal is not currently a player the Browns are looking at.
“Source: Browns aren’t in the market for S Ryan Neal as of now,” Stainbrook tweeted on April 1.
The final three words there are key because the Browns could end up pursuing Neal if they feel like the price is right to beef up their secondary.
Ronnie Harrison had been decent for the Browns but is a free agent after playing out his one-year deal. Bubba Bolden is currently slated to be the backup but he did not appear in a game last season as a rookie.
Browns Have Made Some Big Free Agent Moves on Defense
The Browns did some significant work in free agency to bolster an underperforming defense, signing Thornhill, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and pass-rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo — all likely starters.
The Browns have been trying to wrangle players who they feel can be fit in new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s attacking scheme.
“As you guys hear Jim talk, he’ll talk about being an attack-style front,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said at the NFL combine in February. “So guys that really do get up the field, penetrate, really use either quickness or power to create disruption behind the line of scrimmage. So that’s the general picture that you’ll get from our defense.”
The new additions join a unit that has a lot of potential. Denzel Ward is one of the top young cornerbacks in the league when healthy and Myles Garrett is one of the top pass-rusher, coming off back-to-back 16-sack seasons. Schwartz is particularly excited about what his style of defense could do for Garrett’s production.
“I have a little spot on my wall in my office that says, ‘Anything that gets Myles Garrett one-on-one is a good scheme,'” he said. “If we can get our best players in one-on-one and create matchups for those guys, we’ll be in a pretty good place, particularly with guys like Myles.”
The Browns still have some work to do, which Berry has alluded to, but have already made some big strides this offseason.