With all the additions that Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry made this offseason, it’s easy to overlook some of the new players who were added to the roster. The signing of cornerback Troy Hill could possibly be one that hasn’t received the attention that it deserves.
General manager Andrew Berry has done a tremendous job rebuilding the defense this offseason, which was important as it was seen as the weak link holding this Cleveland Browns team from progressing further in the playoffs.
One area in particular that needed to be addressed was the secondary and Berry has done a great job of adding players that should immediately help upgrade the defense at several positions. The signing of safety John Johnson III was looked at by some as the best signing in all of free agency. Likewise, using a first-round pick on Greg Newsome II was also viewed as a savvy move and one that could pay off immediately.
In addition to adding Johnson III and drafting Newsome II, Berry also signed cornerback Troy Hill to a four-year deal worth $24 million. Hill, the Youngstown native, is fresh off a career year in 2020 in which he had 77 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defended, and 3 total touchdowns.
Along with the continuity and familiarity Hill brings from having previously played alongside Johnson III, he also brings versatility to a secondary that values it quite a bit. While Hill will most likely be used primarily as a slot cornerback, he played both slot cornerback and outside cornerback last year for the Los Angeles Rams, something that defensive coordinator Joe Woods covets in his defenders.
A secondary that already included key players like cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams, and safeties Ronnie Harrison Jr. and Grant Delpit, welcomes with open arms the new additions of Johnson III, Newsome II, and Hill. Ward, Williams, Delpit, and to a lesser extent Harrison Jr., all have an extensive injury history which only makes Hill’s versatility even more important.
Improving the secondary was crucial if the Cleveland Browns want to make it past the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in January. This season they also face quarterbacks Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson twice, and possibly Deshaun Watson, which means having an adequate secondary will be paramount to getting the victory.
It’s easy to be enamored with the additions of defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, or the previously mentioned safety John Johnson III and get excited about what they will bring to the defense. As the season goes on though, it might be that the signing of Troy Hill becomes much more valuable than originally thought.