4 affordable free-agent targets for the Browns this offseason

These 4 free agents would fit well with the Cleveland Browns but also wouldn't break the bank

Browns, Austin Ekeler
Browns, Austin Ekeler / Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK
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2. A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End

For the past couple of years, the Browns have been using a Band-Aid approach to the starting defensive end spot across from Myles Garrett. Following two seasons with Jadeveon Clowney on one-year contracts, they traded for Za'Darius Smith who played for — you guessed it — one year.

Now set for free agency, Smith could be re-signed but there's a chance he might command more than $10 million. With so much money already dedicated to Garrett — and with other needs on the defensive line — Cleveland could look for another option that wouldn't be as expensive.

One player who fits that description is A.J. Epenesa.

A second-round pick out of Iowa in 2020, Epenesa developed into a solid rotational defensive end for the Buffalo Bills. He has just 28 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his first two seasons before putting up 36 tackles and 13 sacks in the past two years. To show off his consistency, he had 6.5 sacks in each of those campaigns.

While he recorded one more sack than Smith in 2023, there's no denying Epenesa isn't as impactful when rushing the passer. But he still can get the job done and might come in at close to 50 percent of what Smith would cost to re-sign. Throw in the fact that he's arguably as good against the run and it could be a wise move from Andrew Berry.