The Browns defense is desperate for a stabilizing presence in the secondary, with good reason.
Last year, the team allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 68.6% of their passes, a mark that ranked last in the league.
This, along with the team’s meager interception total of seven, meant quarterbacks were able to feast on the Browns secondary, negating their fantastic run defense and playing a major role in the debacle that was 0-16.
One potential move that could solve these problems is the acquisition of safety, Kenny Vaccaro.
Not only is Vaccaro a big-name signing that would signal that the Browns mean business, but he has the skills to instantly come in and improve the team’s pass defense.
Despite enduring an injury-plagued 12 games in 2017, Vaccaro still played somewhat well, intercepting three passes, recording 60 total tackles and serving as a solid option in both run and pass packages.
These three interceptions would have tied Jason McCourty for the team lead and been one more than the safety duo of Jabril Peppers and Derrick Kindred got the whole season.
Clearly, Vaccaro represents a major upgrade on the safeties the Browns currently have, but one concern the team should keep in mind is his durability.
He has only played a full season once in his five-year career, being placed on the IR twice (including this past season) and even being suspended four games for a violation of the NFL’s PED policy in 2016.
The team should be somewhat hesitant to offer big money to a player who might not be able to be on the field 100% of the time.
Personally, I believe that, even if he only plays 12-14 games, Vaccaro would still be a huge asset for the Browns defense, with the injuries being a little overblown as it is.
The team should also consider the fact that they have a young, promising safety in Peppers, who showed growth this year and could provide similar production for a cheaper price.
In a league where roster turnover is simply part of the business, this could mean that the team is better off letting Peppers grow, rather than throwing big money at a veteran like Vaccaro.
The team has also been linked with Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick with the #4 pick, a player that many see as the future of the NFL. He’s a versatile piece that can play all three downs, cover wideouts and tight ends, yet still have the speed and play-making ability that many teams salivate over.
Being such a huge fan of Fitzpatrick myself, I can understand why he is such a tantalizing prospect and would rather have him than Vaccaro if given a choice.
Vaccaro, despite many believing he will not return to New Orleans, also has a somewhat robust market for his services, with recent reports linking him to the Dallas Cowboys.
This market will be difficult for the Browns to maneuver through, which makes it somewhat unrealistic to expect to sign Vaccaro.
This is why, despite my love of the former Longhorn, I think the Browns should not go after him this offseason.
I believe the team should stick with Peppers and attempt to grab Fitzpatrick or another safety in the draft.
I just do not think Vaccaro, a veteran who is accustomed to winning, would be content with the reclamation project that will be the Browns’ 2018 season and, with greener pastures awaiting him elsewhere, who can blame him? As much as I wish it was, this signing is simply not meant to be.