While not the cream of the crop of the NFL free agents, the Cleveland Browns spent days three and four worrying about the defensive side of the ball.
The Cleveland Browns made huge splashes in the first two days of the NFL free agency period, acquiring the top free agent tight end available, the top tackle available, one of the top backup quarterbacks available and going out to get one of the three best fullbacks in the league via a trade with Denver.
Since then the team has turned their focus to acquiring defensive players to fill holes and gaps in the team. After those first two days of offensive splurging, the team has acquired a slew of youngish former-backups with the hopes of having them start in Cleveland. The team signed former Green Bay Packers linebacker B.J Goodson, former Bills cornerback Kevin Johnson, and former Oakland safety, Karl Joseph. The team also went out and signed starting defensive tackle Andrew Billings from the Cinncinati Bengals. One has to wonder why the Bengals let a starting-caliber 24-year-old player walk in free agency.
The moves come at a time when the Browns have nearly cleared house on the defensive side of the team, leaving more holes than they originally had. The moves are a bit perplexing, as Goodson, Joseph, and Johnson were, at best, spot-starters on their former teams. Green Bay wanted to bring back Goodson, especially with them losing Blake Martinez, but still let him walk. Despite Green Bay’s desire to keep Goodson, it’s impossible to argue that he or Joseph are upgrades over previous starters Joe Schobert or Damarious Randall.
Johnson, on the other hand, may make a play for starting time depending on how second-year corner Greedy Williams develops. Either way, the move shores up the need for a third corner. For the Billings signing, there is concern that Cinncinati would walk away from such a young starter, but they did, and now here we are. Unless there’s some sort of underlying issue we’re not aware of, the move should be seen as a genuinely positive one.
ILB B.J Goodson (C+)
Starter or not, the team needed depth. No linebacker on the market was or is as good as Schboert, so it’s impossible to give this a strong grade.
CB Kevin Johnson (B-)
Be it as a starter or as a nickel corner, Kevin Johnson will give the team some depth and if he’s healthy could be a starter depending on the development of Williams. A good move but not one that could change the course of the defense.
SAF Karl Joseph (B-)
Karl Joseph is a good player but has ran into injury issues over his career so far. If Joseph can stay healthy, he’ll make for a great starter. If he can stay healthy.
DT Andrew Billing (B)
It’s going to be up to him, but assuming Billing is a hard worker, with a clear focus on what he needs to achieve, then it’s likely Billing’s will start once the season gets under way.