Cleveland Browns: 5 free agents to stay away from
By Thomas Moore
As soon as the news came across the wire that the St. Louis Rams had released inside linebacker James Laurinaitis it was only a matter of time before fans started calling for the Browns to sign him.
This scarlet and gray hued segment of the fanbase operates under the assumption that signing every ex-Ohio State player will solve all the Browns problems, if not on the field then at the box office. In addition, Laurinaitis has the reputation of being a “tackling machine,” which is a good quality to have – especially for a Browns team that struggles to tackle.
The Browns also have an issue at the inside linebacker position, as Craig Robertson hasn’t really done much to establish himself in five years, and Karlos Dansby, while arguably the best player on the defense, is going to be 35 years old this fall. The team can also use help with the run defense.
Laurinaitis, unfortunately, doesn’t represent a cure to what ails the Browns defense.
Tackles are a misleading stat for defenders as they don’t measure the impact of the tackle. Bringing a ball carrier down seven to eight yards past the line of scrimmage is not the same as doing it in the backfield or after a one yard gain. And much like former Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, Laurinaitis is a mainstay of making tackles downfield rather than at the line of scrimmage.
He is also one of the league’s worst run defenders, having earned a -30.7 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2015, the worst grade handed out to a player at his position by the analytics site. Overall, the site gave him a grade of -37.6, which ranked him at No. 59 out of 60 qualifying inside linebackers.
Sorry Buckeye fans, but there are better options out there for the Browns.
Next: Tight end Vernon Davis