Proposed Trade Beefs Up Browns DL With Former First-Round Pick

Daron Payne

Getty Images Daron Payne of the Washington Commanders.

The Cleveland Browns are thin on the interior of their defensive line and a move for Washington Commanders standout DT Daron Payne has been pitched as a potential solution.

The Browns have been utilizing a rotation of Jordan Elliott, Taven Bryan, Perrion Winfrey and Tommy Togai at the defensive tackle spots. It hasn’t worked, with opponents finding a ton of success on the run game and pressure on quarterbacks being limited outside of when Myles Garrett can get loose off the edge. Garrett — who missed a game — has five sacks this season and the rest of the roster has only managed six combined.

The Browns’ defense has been a big reason the team sits at a disappointing 2-4 and Bleacher Report proposed the trade for Payne as a impactful move that could get the unit trending in the right direction.

Payne has been enjoying a good season in Washington. He has 3.5 sacks and had the fifth-most pressures among interior defensive linemen going into Week 6, per Next Gen Stats.

He’s also in the final year of his contract with the Commanders and makes a lot of sense as a trade asset for a team that is 2-4. His arrival in Cleveland would give the Browns added punch in the pass rush while addressing the biggest weakness on the defense.

Browns Have Made Moves to Address Defensive Struggles

The Browns have not stood pat amid their struggles, making a couple of moves to help strengthen the defense. Cleveland signed tackle Tyeler Davison last week and executed a trade for Falcons linebacker Deion Jones. Neither were active last week but could find themselves with roles in Week 7 against the Ravens.

Jones will likely slide into a starting spot in the linebacker corps as a replacement for the struggling Jacob Phillips, who has not been able to fill the hole left behind by Anthony Walker Jr.’s injury.

Jones is far from a savior but a fresh start in Cleveland might do him good. He was a Pro Bowler in 2017 and has notched over 100 tackles in five of his six seasons. The only season he did not was when he played just six games in 2018. He also has 11 interceptions, five defensive touchdowns and 8.5 sacks to his name.

The Browns didn’t commit to Jones being active on Sunday but it sounds like it could be in the cards.

“It is definitely more likely,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said on October 17. “We want to continue to see how he comes along from a physical and mental standpoint.”

Browns Still Have Faith They Can Turn Things Around

The Browns might be 2-4 but are just one game out of the lead in the AFC North, which has been inconsistent as a whole. With consecutive games against the Ravens and Bengals, the next two weeks will be vastly important for Cleveland if they want to stay in contention.

Priority No. 1 is finding consistency in all areas of the game but particularly on defense, where big plays have come back to haunt the Browns week after week.

“Consistent defense is playing sound and playing disciplined. I thought you saw that in moments,” Stefanski said. “I felt the run game in terms of fitting the runs, shedding blocks and tackling was better. We can’t give up the big plays that we gave up obviously. You are just trying to find that consistent balance.”

The Browns head into Baltimore as 6-point underdogs this week.

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