Unpopular opinion: Browns wise not to get into bidding war for defensive stars

Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Leading up to the legal tampering period, the Cleveland Browns were said to be interested in several big-name stars on defense. While Daron Payne was gone before then, after re-signing with the Washington Commanders on a four-year, $90 million deal, they were still reportedly interested in Javon Hargrave and Jessie Bates III.

However, by the end of the day on Monday each of those players had new homes, and neither will be headed to Northeast Ohio. In the end, that's not a bad thing as both players were given massive contracts that Cleveland didn't need to get involved with.

Hargrave was the first to agree to terms as the former Philadelphia Eagle will receive a four-year deal worth $84 million. Bates followed suit later as he too broke the bank, with a four-year, $64.02 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

Each player deserves the money they got, but that doesn't mean Cleveland needed to be the ones to pay them. Right now, they already have their high-priced defenders with Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward both being paid in the $20 million range. That's why it makes no sense for the Browns to go out and pay another defender something similar.

Instead, they decided to focus on in-house free agents, for the most part. Cleveland decided to bring back both Ethan Pocic and Sione Takitaki, who agreed to deals on Monday. This came one day after they came to terms with A.J. Green on a one-year extension.

They eventually did finally did land an external free agent late on Monday, coming to an agreement on a three-year deal with pass-rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo.

A former fifth-round pick, Okoronkwo spent the first three seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Rams. The Oklahoma product then headed to the Houston Texans and had his best campaign in 2022, with 44 tackles and five sacks.

Okoronkwo could potentially start opposite Myles Garrett but his presence also doesn't prevent them from making another move, or even landing someone in the NFL Draft.

Monday might not have been exciting but the Browns found a way to fill one hole while retaining a couple of key contributors. And they didn't overspend for a defender that wouldn't be able to fix all their flaws anyway.

Next. Browns 2023 free agency primer: Main targets, internal free agents. dark