Well, the Browns certainly were one of the most active teams early after the free agency period began, signing former Ravens Outside Linebacker Paul Kruger very quickly. Kruger got a 5 year, 41 million dollar deal, making him the teams third highest paid player. Later in the evening, the Browns signed former Raiders Defensive Tackle Desmond Bryant to a 5 year, 34 million dollar deal. Before night fall, the Browns had inked the best pass rushing linebacker and the best defensive lineman available. Not bad. Early this morning, it was announced that the Browns had signed former Cardinals Linebacker Quentin Groves to a 2 year, 2.8 million dollar deal.
First, lets look at Paul Kruger. Kruger has been rated as the 6th best pass rusher in the NFL by profootballtalk.com, and was expected to be one of the top 2 free agents available this off season. He brings an immediate upgrade to the Browns pass rush, as well as post season/super bowl experience. Coupled with the already impressive D’Qwell Jackson, the Browns have two highly touted, in-their-prime linebackers to build around.
The addition of Desmond Bryant gives the Browns one of the overall best defensive linemen in the NFL. Bryant is an outstanding pass rusher, but also a powerful run blocker. He is as dangerous a D-linemen as you will find in football. Additionally, the upgrade Bryant provides gives the Browns true depth on the defensive line, with Rubin, Taylor and Bryant all being solid to outstanding linemen. Additionally, Defensive End Jabaal Sheard can now be expected to be moved to outside linebacker, which really is a more natural position for his skill set. Again, the Browns now have true depth in their defensive line and potentially in their front seven.
I think the biggest steal of the free agency period so far is Quentin Groves. A paltry 1.4 million per year, Groves is much better than that contract would indicate. He’s one of the most underrated linebackers in the league, and was highly productive in Ray Horton’s system. I don’t know if he’ll start, but he will definitely provide depth.