The Cleveland Browns front office could look to a familiar face in potential free agent Morgan Burnett to fill their need for a starting strong safety.
Ever since trading Jabrill Peppers to the New York Giants as a part of the package to get Odell Beckham Jr., the Cleveland Browns had to make finding a strong safety to replace Peppers a priority this off-season.
The free agent safety market got off to a hot start, with most of the top free agents signing quickly after the new league year opened. However, several good safeties are still available, but the Browns have still not added a player to the back-end of their defense.
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Burnett spent the first eight years of his career with the Green Bay Packers, spanning from 2010-2017. With his long tenure in Green Bay, the key players in the Browns front office, John Dorsey, Eliot Wolf, and Alonzo Highsmith, are familiar with what Burnett can bring to the team’s defense because of their time in the Packers’ personnel department.
Since being named the Browns general manager in December 2017, Dorsey has made several signings of players he has previous experience with. Because of his familiarity with Burnett, as well as the rest of the front office and pass game coordinator Joe Whitt, it seems likely Burnett will be on the Browns’ radar.
During his eight seasons with the Packers, Burnett was a solid contributor playing a variety of positions. He would split his time at free safety and strong safety for most of his time in Green Bay, but also played linebacker in his final seasons with the Packers.
In 102 games and starts with the Packers, the 30-year-old made 717 total tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles, nine interceptions and 44 passes defensed.
After Green Bay let Burnett leave in free agency last off-season, the safety signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 11 games with the Steelers in 2018, including two starts, Burnett made 30 total tackles, one tackle for loss, and six passes defensed.
Burnett requested to be released from his contract with the Steelers in January. The Steelers have told Burnett they will honor his request and release him by April 1, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Although the Browns have not been heavily linked to many free agent safeties, Dorsey said at the league meetings that the Browns have been in contact with the agents of free agents Tre Boston and Eric Berry.