Grading Browns free agency first-wave: Biggest risk, most important move, and more

Andrew Berry is off to a hot start

Devin Bush
Devin Bush / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
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Browns Biggest Risk Signing: Maurice Hurst and Devin Bush   

With the departures of Jordan Elliott, Maurice Hurst, Shelby Harris, Anthony Walker, Jacob Phillips, and Sione Takitaki there was no doubt the Browns would be adding players at linebacker and defensive tackle. 

Many thought Berry would go the expensive route at defensive tackle to pair with Dalvin Tomlinson, but instead, he signed three rotational guys bringing back Hurst, Harris, and Quinton Jefferson from the New York Jets. All have proven to be effective NFL players, but Hurst’s injuries are a red flag.

Five years into his NFL career, Hurst has only played a full season one time.  He missed four games last year with the Browns, and only appeared in two games in 2021- while missing the entire 2022 season. It’s a low-risk, high-reward signing, but given the need at the position I was surprised to see Berry take the risk with Hurst.  On the flip, this will be a home run if he can stay healthy in 2024.

Berry finally folded and signed a big-name defensive tackle last year in Tomlinson, but he still has refused to pay a linebacker. While Jordan Hicks was a solid replacement for Walker, I’m not sure that Devin Bush can fill the shoes for Takitaki.

Bush fits the Berry mold, he’s a former first-round pick with all the talent in the world, but he’s yet to put it all together on the field.  He’s played a lot of football over the last five seasons, but his most productive season was his rookie year with the Steelers.

Let’s hope that Jim Schwartz can get the most out of Bush and being on such a loaded roster maybe we will see the 2019 version come back. Like Hurst, this pick could end up being the smartest off-season move, but given the need for help at the position, I’m surprised to see Berry take such a risk. 

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