Eric Berry signing could make Browns defense elite
The Cleveland Browns defense has been overlooked thus far this season, and is performing very well. Signing Eric Berry, however, could make the unit elite.
With the Cleveland Browns coming off of an impressive win over the Baltimore Ravens that featured the offense coming to life and the defense stopping an impressive Baltimore offense through three weeks, the team could still see improvement on the field in a few areas.
Signing free-agent safety Eric Berry could be the piece that adds even more life to an impressive defense thus far, and could take the defense to an elite level.
Coming into the 2019 season with tons of hype, the Browns have had some hiccups that caused some in the media to laugh and consider them the “same old Browns.” From a lack of progression by quarterback Baker Mayfield from last year to this year, or the ‘all talk and no show’ addition of all-star caliber talent, many outside of the Browns thought they had given the team too much praise too soon, and that the team had bought into the hype prematurely.
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Those tunes changed quickly, as they often do, when Cleveland went into Baltimore and dominated both offensively and defensively against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. With Mayfield looking more composed, Nick Chubb returning to late 2018 form, and an impressive defensive showing by all three levels, the Browns looked all the parts of the quality team they were supposed to be.
The injury bug has plagued the team early this year, especially on the defensive side of the field. Defensive backs Denzel Ward, Greddy Williams and Morgan Burnett all missed their second consecutive games against Baltimore, which has tested the depth of the Browns secondary.
Thankfully, the team has quality backups in those positions, such as T.J. Carrie, Terrance Mitchell and Jermaine Whitehead, all of whom have played well above their expected level to help carry this defense.
Even in doing so, the defense hasn’t been perfect. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks is almost certainly a genius for how he’s had this unit playing, but after the late game efforts in the loss to the Tennessee Titans in Week 1, and a few other times this season, his defenses weaknesses have been exposed.
But imagine Ward coming back and playing like he did in his Pro Bowl season as a rookie last year, as well as Greedy Williams playing at that same level. Myles Garrett and the pass rush have been stellar all season long, as has the linebacker play from just about everyone, both veteran and rookie.
With all of that happening, this defense, under the mind of Wilks, could be something special. They could also look at adding another former All-Pro safety to the roster to help in Eric Berry. While Berry has been injured the last few seasons, limiting him to just three games since the start of 2017, he could be the missing piece that takes Cleveland over the top.
The Browns have the talent and depth at safety that could be appealing to Berry, who probably couldn’t start on a weekly basis anymore, but could come into the game on key situations and help the youth on the field.
Berry has seen just about every situation you can imagine as a defender in his time in the NFL, and even if he only sees the field sparingly, he could serve as a mentor to the many youthful but talented players that litter the Browns defense.
You can almost surely bet he still has the itch to play, and with the amount of talent that has been added to this Browns team in the last year, and the potential amount of talent they could add in the next year or two, it would only take another piece or two to really make the defensive unit an elite bunch of players.
Baker Mayfield is the future of the offense, as is Nick Chubb. With the plethora of talent on offense, things will get fixed and the kinks will be ironed out in time. The defense is already close to being there. The addition of a veteran who knows what it takes to win, and is a leader on and off the field such as Eric Berry, is something this youthfully talented team needs.
Given a chance, Berry could help take this team from really good to great. And even if it costs a few million dollars, if it helps bring Cleveland the AFC North crown or a championship in the next few seasons, that’s all the reason needed to sign him.