A true ironman of the NFL remains available as a free agent, and he just happens to play the one position the Cleveland Browns need to improve the most.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has been a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the past three seasons, winning a Super Bowl ring with the franchise in 2020. But it appears the 34-year-old is not long for South Florida after the Bucs added Akiem Hicks late last month.
Conflicting reports have had the Browns in pursuit of Suh to bolster a defensive front that is arguably the weakest unit of the team, even despite a blistering pass rush from All-Pro Myles Garrett and the recently re-signed Jadeveon Clowney, to backing off Suh in favor of another approach.
The most recent reporting from Anthony Poisal, a staff writer working for the Browns’ official website, suggests that Cleveland remains very much in the mix for Suh’s services.
“It’s reasonable to think the Browns could still explore upgrades at wide receiver and defensive tackle, two positions that will each need new starters this year,” Poisal wrote in an article published on Monday, June 13. “A couple big free agents are still available at each position and could all be signed to teams in the next month. ”
“If they’re still looking for additions at defensive tackle, five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh is one top player who has yet to sign a deal,” Poisal continued.
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Browns Have Been Back And Forth on Adding Suh, Per Reports
Based on previous reports from NFL insiders and Browns beat coverage, Cleveland has run alternately hot and cold on Suh.
Just over one month ago, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell predicted that Suh would end up in a Browns uniform next season simply because the team is so starved for consistent, veteran leadership on that part of the field.
“Suh might not be the two-way force we saw during his time with the [Detroit] Lions, and the Bucs were careful to reduce its snap rate down from 77% in 2019 to 63% this past season, but he’s still a reliable interior disruptor, ”Barnwell wrote. “The man just doesn’t get hurt. Suh hasn’t missed a single game due to injury as a pro across 12 campaigns. ”
Just over two weeks ago, Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report took to Twitter to report that the Browns were pulling back in their pursuit of the three-time All-Pro defensive tackle.
“Bucs and Raiders still in on DT Ndamukong Suh,” Stainbrook wrote. “Talks are ongoing with Las Vegas, while Tampa Bay will let all the options die down first. Browns have backed off. ”
Suh Would Provide Massive Upgrade to Browns’ Interior Defense
Should the Browns decide to make Suh an offer, the move would align with the aggressive approach general manager Andrew Berry has taken this offseason. Cleveland spent big money to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Amari Cooper, as well as lock in cornerback Denzel Ward and tight end David Njoku for years to come.
Due to fancy financial maneuvering, the Browns still have more than $ 42 million in cap space to spend this offseason. As Poisal noted Monday, the two areas where that money would accomplish the most are along the defensive interior and adding another weapon for Watson at wide receiver.
Suh’s earnings averaged just over $ 9 million across his three seasons in Tampa Bay, and it is hard to argue that a similar contract for the 34-year-old in Cleveland wouldn’t be money well spent. Suh never missed a start as a member of the Bucs, amassing 112 tackles, including 23 tackles for loss, 46 quarterback hits and 14.5 sacks throughout his tenure with the team, per Pro Football Reference.
Meanwhile, the Browns cut bait with both their starting defensive tackles from 2021, Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell.
Taven Bryan, former first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars who signed with Cleveland as a free agent, and third-year lineman Jordan Elliott are set to assume the starting roles. The Browns also drafted Perrion Winfrey out of the University of Oklahoma this year to bolster the line.
If signed, Suh would walk into the Browns’ locker room and be the man from day one, bringing a fearsome quality and cachet to the position group it was clearly missing last season.