4 veteran free agents the Cleveland Browns should still sign before the 2023 season
The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books and the Cleveland Browns came away with seven talented players that clearly the front office and coaching staff have big plans for moving forward. Even without a selection in the first two rounds, Cleveland found great value throughout the middle and late rounds to, hopefully, set up the franchise for success in the years to come.
By drafting a wide receiver with their first pick, and two offensive linemen before the draft was complete, it is clear that the focus was, in fact, on the future for the Browns. They added some promising pieces to potentially build around, but will likely need to add a couple more to help the team compete right away in 2023.
The Browns already dipped back into the free agency pool since the draft ended, signing veteran safety Rodney McLeod, who starred on a Super Bowl Philadelphia Eagles defense under new Browns defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
McLeod, though 32 years old, was very productive last season and his versatility will be an asset for Schwartz in 2023. This is exactly the type of player that General Manager Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns should be looking to sign to round out their roster for this season. Veteran players with proven experience and production and the versatility to provide depth at multiple spots to help fill the remaining needs should be the last few targets in the offseason.
4 veteran free agents that the Cleveland Browns should still target prior to the 2023 season
4. Yannick Ngakoue, Defensive End
One of the first moves the Cleveland Browns made this offseason was bringing in promising young pass rusher, Ogbo Okoronkwo from Houston in free agency. The tape clearly shows a talented player bursting with potential, but the production numbers paint the picture of a player that a playoff-caliber team may not want to heavily rely on.
Adding a veteran defensive end like Yannick Ngakoue is a no-brainer at this point for the Browns. Even with Okoronkwo, 2023 fourth-round pick Isaiah McGuire, and 2022 draft picks Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland could really use a reliable edge presence with proven production.
Ngakoue isn't going to be the go-to, every-down player opposite of Myles Garrett on the defensive end. He isn't overly effective against the run and at 28 years old may have already played his best football. The tape, though, shows a player that still has some gas left in the tank and is an expert at one thing: rushing the passer.
In his seven-year career, Ngakoue hasn't posted a season with less than 8 sacks. Since his rookie campaign, he has always found a way to get to the quarterback. That kind of sack production is something the Browns have been lacking aside from Garrett. The team hasn't had another player with 10 or more sacks since Paul Kruger in 2014.
Ngakoue isn't a perfect player, but at this point in the offseason should be a perfect addition and fit for the Browns. He would provide some valuable experience and proven production to a defensive end room that severely lacks both after arguably the best in the league.