The Cleveland Browns missed out on signing Gerald McCoy, but should they pursue other defensive tackles before the start of the season?
The Browns were optimistic they would land McCoy to create one of the most talented defensive fronts in the league. But after allowing McCoy to take visits after meeting with the Browns front office, McCoy saw a better opportunity in Carolina.
The defensive line has been a focus for the Browns front office this offseason, trading for defensive end Olivier Vernon and signing defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Cleveland lacked depth up front last season, hurting the overall effectiveness of the defense late in games, so adding Vernon and Richardson were much-needed additions.
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McCoy not only would’ve added tremendous depth at defensive tackle for the Browns, but a three-man rotation of McCoy, Richardson, and Larry Ogunjobi would have been incredibly tough for offensive lines to contain for an entire game.
But now that McCoy is a Panther and the Browns enter mandatory minicamp with the defensive tackle rotation they were planning on having during minicamp, it leads to the question of if the Cleveland front office should pursue another available defensive tackle to add more depth up front.
After the signing of Richardson, it helped mend the depth issue the Browns faced up front last season. That moved Trevon Coley into a rotational role instead of being a starter, which puts him in a role he will be better in and could help his performance when he’s on the field improve.
It will also allow Ogunjobi to get off the field every now and then to help him stay fresh throughout the course of the game. Last season, Ogunjobi played 79 percent of Cleveland’s defensive snaps. Cleveland also has Brian Price and Carl Davis on the defensive tackle depth chart, and they seem to like both players.
So adding a defensive tackle after missing on McCoy is not a pressing need for the Browns front office currently. The main reason signing McCoy was so alluring for Cleveland was because of how talented of a player he is. McCoy has been one of the most productive interior defensive linemen in the NFL for the past several years and he would have instantly improved Cleveland’s defense.
It also would be smart for the Browns to conserve as much of their cap space as possible considering they are already overspending the salary cap set by the NFL for 2019. If they want to make it easier to sign Myles Garrett to an extension in the next few seasons, keeping some of their cap space to rollover for next season would be the smart approach.
However, if the Browns and the defensive coaching staff feel after mandatory minicamp that they need another veteran defensive tackle to build more depth up front before training camp, they could pursue a cheap option on the free agent market.
Currently, the only veteran defensive tackle available on the free agent market who has put up solid production at some point in his career is Corey Liuget. After being suspended for a PED issue and tearing his quad last season, Liuget could be a cheap option to build more depth up front for the Browns.
But after Liuget, the cupboard is pretty bare on the free agent market. Things could change in August when teams make more roster moves, but as things stand currently, the Browns should be fairly comfortable with their defensive tackle rotation that they should not need to pursue another player after missing on McCoy.