ESPN connects Cleveland Browns to Brandon Graham, Ndamukong Suh
The 2019 free agency period will be an interesting time for the Cleveland Browns, and ESPN is connecting the Browns to free agents Brandon Graham and Ndamukong Suh.
The Cleveland Browns are one of the teams that can be the most active during the free agency period in a couple of weeks. They have plenty of cap space and holes to fill across the roster. With the cap space available, they’ll have the ability to make a lot of noise.
However, they could also be relatively quiet in free agency. Despite having boatloads of cap space to use, general manager John Dorsey will have to consider the players he currently has on his roster. With extensions coming for core players, Dorsey would be smart to be frugal with the cap space.
On Feb. 11, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell attempted to predict how certain free agents potentially signing with one team will affect other teams and how they approach free agency. One of the teams that he frequently mentioned was the Cleveland Browns.
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The first player that he used to illustrate how other dominoes could potentially fall is defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Barnwell predicts three teams that could target Ansah: Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, and the Green Bay Packers. Barnwell connected Ansah signing with the Colts and Packers to the Browns making two different moves.
Barnwell predicted that if Ansah signs with the Colts, the Browns would potentially sign defensive end Brandon Graham to a three-year, $40 million contract. In 2018, Graham started all 16 games for the Philadelphia Eagles, making a combined 39 tackles, nine tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble, and 11 quarterback hits.
Here is what Barnwell said about the Browns potentially signing Graham this off-season:
"Let’s get Myles Garrett some help. The Browns still have reasons to think Emmanuel Ogbah could round into a fine starter, but rotating Ogbah and Graham might make both players more productive. Graham is an excellent two-way edge defender and a logical short-term move for a competitive Browns team."
The Browns should look at adding more depth at defensive end and on the edge. For most of 2018 the Browns struggled to build solid rotations for their defensive line, leading to exhausted and less disruptive players late in games – even Myles Garrett struggled with fatigue. By signing Graham, Cleveland would add a quality player that can play any down and be effective in any situation, while also giving Garrett or Emmanuel Ogbah a breather on the sidelines.
But if Ansah signed with the Packers this off-season, Barnwell predicted the Browns would sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a two-year, $36 million contract. Suh started all 16 games for the Rams last season, making a combined 59 tackles, four tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 19 quarterback hits. In three games in the playoffs, Suh made six total tackles, two tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and five quarterback hits.
Here is what Barnwell said about Suh potentially signing with the Browns this off-season:
"Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi and Suh? That’ll play. Suh might not get the long-term deal he’s hoping for because of a draft loaded with defensive linemen, but the five-time Pro Bowler would be a major upgrade on Trevon Coley. This two-year deal would come fully guaranteed."
The Browns will be looking to find Larry Ogunjobi a running mate next to him at defensive tackle this off-season – or at least they should be. Barnwell’s prediction of the Browns signing Suh fits all of the criteria for the Browns.
Suh can be a dominating pass rusher up the middle. Even if he does not sack the quarterback, his ability to push his blocker into the pocket and force the quarterback to scramble creates the same amount of issues for offenses. But Suh is also strong against the run, as his speed allows him to get up-field, but he has the power to anchor in a gap and not allow running backs to make a big gain.
Although signing Suh to a contract with an average salary of $18 million is risky, it could be worth the price for the Browns. Not only are they getting a dominating player up the middle of the defense, but his contract will be off the books when the Browns need to sign Garrett and Baker Mayfield to extensions.
Barnwell also predicted the Browns sign Ryan Fitzpatrick due to his connections with Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken and Cleveland’s need for a reliable backup quarterback. He also sees the Browns as a potential landing spot for wide receiver Tyrell Williams.