Cleveland Browns target Carl Lawson labeled ‘underrated’ FA

Dec 21, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson (58) sacks Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 21, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson (58) sacks Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

Carl Lawson would be quite the add for the Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns should be looking to land a high-end EDGE rusher opposite Myles Garrett. It’s evident that Olivier Vernon won’t likely be in the cards from here, and while the secondary needs to be addressed, that other defensive end is key.

And landing a prospect such as Jaycee Horn, Asante Samuel Jr. or Ifeatu Melifonwu, for instance, could be a significant draft add at cornerback.

Anyway, on the EDGE front, one would assume Cleveland will look to be active in free agency there; I’m not necessarily discounting that at corner, though. But the former via free agency would appear likely, anyhow; as a side note, Curtis Weaver being back could be a promising rotational contributor down the road.

To the last point, names such as Bud Dupree, Matthew Judon and others could be of interest for opposite Garrett, albeit Carl Lawson, who wasn’t tagged by the Cincinnati Bengals, could be quite the add. And recently, Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus highlighted Lawson as an “underrated” free agent.

"“Lawson doesn’t have huge sack totals – he has just one double-digit sack season in his career, and it came back in 2017 – but he has been a consistently superior pass-rusher to Dupree in virtually every other way.Last season, Lawson generated 64 total pressures and a PFF pass-rushing grade of 84.9, ninth in the league among edge rushers. He isn’t much of a run defender, but he is significantly better as a pass-rushing force than his sack totals would lead you to believe, suggesting that he might be a bargain signing if teams still aren’t looking beyond that bottom-line figure.” — Monson, PFF"

For further context, Monson considered Dupree as “overrated,” and not concerning his ACL injury from December, Dupree has benefited from Pittsburgh’s pressure-focused scheme, and his sack totals were realistically, largely inflated. That’s essentially what Monson stated.

So, on the Lawson front, while we’d have to see what a potential deal would look like, he’d likely be a high impact signing.

Lawson could be a heck of an EDGE add for the Browns.

Lawson’s highest sack total was 8.5 in 2017 as a rookie, for reference, but as Monson expressed, he’s been productive in terms of pressures/efficiency when the opportunities have come. For context, he’s had 10.5 sacks the past two seasons. Lawson was mostly a starter for only last season, though.

Now, Lawson, as Monson noted, is not known for his run defensive capabilities.

That said, in today’s league, you can never have enough high-quality edge rushers. And as DPD’s Greg Newland emphasized, Lawson was often aiding those around him when his opportunities did come with Cincinnati as a rusher by occupying multiple pass blockers.

Long story short, if Cleveland were to sign him, he could have far more robust sack totals and/or quarterback hits.

Nonetheless, it’s reasonable to bring up that Lawson missed four games in 2019 because of a hamstring injury, and he tore his ACL in 2018, which cut that season for him to only seven games.

In any case, while we’d have to see, maybe Lawson could perhaps be signed to more so a team-friendly, three or so-year deal that features more guaranteed in the last two seasons, for example? Maybe that’s wishful thinking, though; or a one-year, prove-it deal, somewhat in the same realm, could be doable?

And as Newland seemingly alluded to, maybe the allure of Garrett on the other side and higher sack totals/raw production and being an emerging team in-division could help for selling points.

At any rate, Lawson is a very intriguing potential free agent target, as Monson/PFF appeared to have illustrated. And further playing off of that, the 25-year-old likely wouldn’t be underrated for much longer if the seemingly ascending Browns were to sign him.

Cleveland is set to have roughly $24.9 million in salary cap space, per Over The Cap, but is set to have the league’s highest cap carryover of roughly $29.4 million. As’s Mary Kay Cabot stated, when factoring in rookies, too, though, Cleveland is set to roughly have $17 million to spend, so we’ll see as far as their own as well.

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The Browns, per a report from Cabot, do have Lawson on their radar, as an added note, along with players such as Dupree and Trey Hendrickson. And again, as seemingly relayed, if they were to sign Lawson, that’d be quite the add for their pass rush.