As free agency approaches, the Browns are undoubtedly formulating a plan that will contain many options and contingencies. The team has come a long way in the last few months, yet is certain to be hungry to take that next step. One path toward improving the team would be to add some defensive pieces in free agency. This would allow tremendous flexibility in April’s draft.
The Browns need help at defensive tackle.
Haloti Ngata is a free agent and could provide excellent veteran leadership at an economical rate. Ngata is 35 years old and would be entering his 14th NFL season. However, he is a player who is still above average in a rotational role. He played well while logging 368 snaps for the Eagles. By contrast, Larry Ogunjobi played 930 snaps for the Browns. Ngata can come in and help with some of that load while also helping the young defensive tackle that the Browns will undoubtedly take with one of their first two picks in the draft.
Kwon Alexander is an interesting player. He’s played as a somewhat undersized, athletic inside linebacker who can pressure the quarterback. He has tested positive for a banned substance and is currently rehabbing a torn ACL. It appears as if he will be ready for the 2019 season, but what will the market be for Kwon Alexander? He may be a guy who doesn’t get the deal he wants when free agency kicks offs. This could leave him in a position of looking for a job among a few teams and the Browns may get a below-market deal. Alexander like Joe Schobert should have the flexibility to play outside. He would fill a need with the pending release of Jamie Collins.
If the Browns are able to sign Haloti Ngata and get a deal on Kwon Alexander, they could pursue the best corner available in free agency in Ronald Darby. This strategy isn’t without risk given Darby’s recent propensity for injuries and the guaranteed money that would be involved to land the dynamic corner. However, Darby’s production when on the field can’t be denied. At only 25, Darby has room for growth and already has four seasons of experience. Given Denzel Ward’s concussion issues, the Browns need all the strength they can get at corner.
Signing Haloti Ngata, Kwon Alexander and Ronald Darby would allow the Browns to focus on drafting the best talent available in the draft. This strategy would help the team gain as much talent as possible going into the 2019 season.