Defensive tackle for late draft pick
The Browns are deep at defensive tackle, and can offer another team a quality player in exchange for a draft pick.
At defensive tackle, the Browns have Andrew Billings, the former Bengal standout, coming off the Covid-19 list this season. He is being pushed by sophomore Jordan Elliott who was a third-round pick last season; and this year’s fourth-round pick, Tommy Togiai from Ohio State. UDFA Marvin Wilson is a good prospect if his knee is sound. Reports from the off-season have been positive.
Jackson, Billings, Togiai, Elliott, and Wilson have guaranteed money, though Wilson’s guarantee is about $242,000. Square’s contract is hard to determine. Published reports from OverTheCap.com and spotrac indicate that the cap number is $850,000, but that his salary is $1,075,000, with no explanation where the extra $225,000 comes from. It is either bonus money or voidable out-years. Guessing here is the latter, so that it may be possible to cut him without a salary cap hit.
However, Square, now in his ninth year, had 20 tackles last season for the Los Angeles Chargers, which is the exact same number as 10-year veteran Jackson had for Philadelphia. Jackson is a former Pro Bowler and excels at getting after the quarterback, while Square is more of a run stopper. Jackson and Square both have almost exactly the same grade from PFF, corresponding to borderline starters.
If Square still has his mojo, he presents an interesting possibility. If he and Jackson are platooned with Square being used on nominal running downs and Square used in passing situations, the result could be greater than the sum of the parts. Getting the veterans some rest and managing their workload is not a bad idea in any case. So, if Square has gas left in the tank it would behooves the Browns to hang onto him.
Marvin Wilson may also be staying in Cleveland, as long as he’s healthy. There’s no reason why his knee injury cannot heal (torn meniscus). He was a five-star defensive tackle prospect for the Florida State Seminoles. A knee injury and a high-profile political difference of opinion with the coaching staff led him to slide out of the draft.
The political issues were overblown (and in this reviewer’s opinion) were actually a positive, because Wilson showed excellent conflict resolution skills. Some organizations are comfortable with players who are true leaders, other organizations, well, not so much. Let’s be honest. The Browns seem to be comfortable with players who can dialogue with management. National Football League President J.C. Tretter is a case in point.
Thus there are six defensive tackles who might be able to play.
Keeping five defensive tackles on the active roster is questionable, but six is extravagant.
Cleveland can cut Square without a salary cap hit, but is that what they want to do?
If the Browns believe that they have five or even six viable defensive tackles, they may try to trade a veteran. Billings or Jackson would not have much value as one-year wonders, but Elliott would generate great interest since he is under contract for three years.
Elliott, the former Missouri Tiger, is the most tradeable, but the Browns would have to get something significant back. He was a third-round pick. Clearly, a roster space is important, but they do not need to blow up his development if they feel he will become a true starter.
He was on the field for almost 30% of the Browns’ defensive snaps last season, and is a possible starting candidate this season or next if he continues to progress. It mainly depends on how much the coaching staff believes in Square for this season compared to Elliott, and if there is a deal out there from an NFC team wanting to make Elliott a starter immediately.