Two New More for this Defense

Newest Members of the Cleveland Browns

After a few days of inactivity, the Browns inked a couple members who can possibly help the team in 2015 and beyond. Last season, they made wise moves in acquiring Karlos Dansby and Donte Whitner for the defense – both were tremendous leaders and the latter made the Pro Bowl. Can lightning strike again in consecutive years? Time will tell, but let’s review what the front office decided to do.

Sign Defensive Lineman Randy Starks

This was far from a high profile signing. The former Miami Dolphin agreed to a two-year contract worth $8 million. It would appear he is a replacement for departing veteran Ahtyba Rubin, whom commanded a much higher salary (for arguably not much more production).

Starks will be entering his twelfth NFL season and is thirty-one years old. There’s a decent chance this might be his final large contract as a professional football player. The Browns believe they are getting a rotational guy who can bring toughness and something lacking in 2014. Despite only averaging four sacks a year over past six seasons, Starks was primarily a run stopper. If he can excel in this area for the Browns, than this was a job well done by Ray Farmer. Putting teams in long distances to go on second and third down will make this defense much more formidable.

Acquire Cornerback Tramon Williams

Could this be a steal for the Browns? They signed a guy entering his tenth season and is thirty-two years old. However, he has been a two-time Pro Bowler – one would believe he still know how to play the position. Thus, the Browns nabbed Williams with a three-year deal worth $21 million.

What kind of talent did the Browns sign? Well, Williams had more than three interceptions in six of his past seven seasons in the NFL.  On the other side of the coin, the cornerback is a versatile tackler – averaging just fewer than four per game. Both traits give me faith that the veteran is not a drop-off from the guy he will likely be replacing – Buster Skrine. Personally, I can see him be a nickel cornerback in this defense – provided Justin Gilbert steps up and gains the starting job opposite Joe Haden.

Conclusion: While these positions are not “complete”, I support the two recent moves the Browns have made. Toss in a Danny Shelton or Malcom Brown in the first round, and this defensive line got a huge face-lift from 2014. After having four cornerbacks make the team as a rookie last year, the Browns might shift their eyes towards safety in the draft. The addition of Williams might allow the team to avoid having to draft a cornerback at least in 2015.

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