Browns Dubbed Landing Spot for $70 Million Pro Bowl D-Tackle

Getty Defensive tackle Kenny Clark of the Green Bay Packers.

The Cleveland Browns had the best defense in the NFL in 2023 and have designs on repeating that performance again next season.

A big step for Cleveland’s defense was the bolstering of the defensive line, adding edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and defensive tackle Shelby Harris in the offseason and turning a previous weakness into a strength. Both Smith and Harris are back in 2024 on new two-year contracts worth $23 million and $9 million, respectively.

The value is solid on both players, as each are predicted to start next season, according to ESPN’s layout of the team’s depth chart. Their contracts, and the relatively reasonable annual number of $25 million for Defensive Player of the Year Myles Garrett, should allow the Browns to pursue more depth across the front via trade or free agency this summer if they so choose.

One potential option may be defensive tackle Kenny Clark of the Green Bay Packers, who Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report dubbed a likely candidate for a cut or trade following the NFL draft later this month.

Kenny Clark Could Get Expensive Following Pro Bowl Year

Kenny Clark

GettyDefensive tackle Kenny Clark of the Green Bay Packers. 

Knox laid out his argument for the Packers moving on from Clark post-draft on April 11.

Defensive tackle Kenny Clark is a player to keep an eye on. While Clark won’t turn 29 until October, he’s been with the Packers since 2016 and is entering the final year of his current contract. With defensive tackle deals skyrocketing — Derrick Brown just got a four-year, $96 million extension from the Carolina Panthers — a third contract for Clark could be mighty expensive.

The Packers might be able to find a trade partner for Clark if a team in need of defensive line help — like the Browns or Dallas Cowboys — misses out on that position in the draft. If Green Bay reloads enough along its defensive front, Clark could also become a cut candidate. The Packers could save $17 million in 2024 cap space by releasing Clark with a post-June 1 designation.

Clark, a three-time Pro Bowler (2019, 2021, 2023), is playing on a four-year $70 million deal. Spotrac projects his market value at $16.7 million annually over a new three-year contract (more than $50 million in total).

Knox also noted that the team has 11 draft picks in 2024, which will allow them to target young players on inexpensive rookie deals at positions currently filled by players who could get pricey in the near future.

Browns Strong Candidates to Spend, Even Despite Salary Cap Constraints

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry selected Cade York with a fourth-round pick but it didn't work out.

GettyCleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry.

The Browns aren’t exactly the model franchise for salary cap space heading into the 2024 campaign, with roughly $3.9 million at their disposal as of Sunday and five potential draft picks for whom they must account later this month.

That said, Cleveland general manager Andrew Berry and his cap staff are known for their financial wizardry around the league and the team is in full-go mode toward the Super Bowl window it has feasibly opened over the next two or three seasons. If an expensive player like Clark makes sense, even for just one year, no one should put it past the Browns to at least take a swing.

The Browns just reworked running back Nick Chubb’s contract to lower his base salary and cap hit without locking themselves into an extension before he proves he can return healthy from knee surgery. Meanwhile, the franchise can save significant money by extending wide receiver Amari Cooper on a multiyear deal, thereby reducing his onerous 2024 cap hit of nearly $24 million by an as of yet untold amount.

As such, if Clark is in play, the Browns can get in the game for him after the draft concludes later this month.

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