Free agents from the NFC the Cleveland Browns should consider targeting
By Dan Justik
Arizona Cardinals: Rodney Gunter, Defensive Lineman
The Cardinals do not have many free agents who fit the needs of the Browns, but Rodney Gunter is another versatile defensive lineman who could provide the Browns help at both defensive end and defensive tackle.
The 28-year-old started 13 games for the Cardinals, making 31 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, and 10 quarterback hits. Gunter can generate some pressure on the quarterback, but can also stop the run.
He is not a standout on the defensive line, but he is a versatile lineman. Gunter would be a cheap option who could become a key piece as a rotational lineman at both tackle and end.
Los Angeles Rams: Cory Littleton, Linebacker
The Browns may have decided to let Joe Schobert walk, but they should still have their eyes on the top linebacker in this free agent class. Cory Littleton is one of the best coverage linebackers in the NFL, but can still get after ball carriers.
Starting in every game last season, Littleton made 134 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and nine passes defensed. With Cleveland’s linebackers needing to be solid in coverage in their new defense, Littleton will fit the mold.
However, the Browns are letting Schobert walk because of his price tag. Perhaps they do not feel he warrants the price tag he is asking for, or it may be because the Browns do not feel they need to pay a linebacker top-tier money. But if they are fine with paying a linebacker, Littleton should be their target.
San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead, Defensive End
The Browns new front office will likely value edge rushers and players who have proven production. If that is the case, then Arik Armstead should be one of their top targets, especially since he will be familiar with the style of Joe Woods’ defense.
Armstead had a breakout season in 2019, making 54 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, eight quarterback hits, and two passes defensed. He emerged as a dominant edge rusher, but also played well against the run.
Armstead will be expensive, but he fills a need and could be a cornerstone for the defense. Since Cleveland hired one of San Francisco’s defensive line coaches this offseason, Armstead would not need much of an adjustment period either.
Seattle Seahawks: Quinton Jefferson, Defensive Lineman
If the Browns do want a low-cost addition on the defensive line, Quinton Jefferson could be their man. Jefferson is another versatile lineman who has proven to be productive along the defensive line.
In 14 games last season, Jefferson made 26 total tackles, four tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and three passes defensed. If the Browns aren’t looking to spend a ton of money on the offensive line, Jefferson could be an option to cover multiple spots as a rotational piece.