Browns sign Kruger, Bryant
Defensive additions key with new 3-4 defense
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 13:03
At the end of the 1995 seasons, members of the Cleveland Browns were forced to turn in their brown and orange jerseys for purple and black jerseys as the late Art Modell was moving the franchise to Baltimore.
Eighteen years later, the Cleveland Browns get a little justice. The new front office composed of CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Mike Lombardi made a statement that resounded through the NFL as the Browns signed arguably the second-most coveted free agent on the market, outside linebacker Paul Kruger to a reported five-year, $41-million-dollar contract.
Kruger was an integral part of the Ravens' championship run a season ago, compiling 56 tackles, 13.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. Kruger will fit into new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s system very well. He will be responsible for the same assignments that he was responsible for in Baltimore as the defenses are very similar. He will line up opposite Jabaal Sheard, who played defensive end last season. Sheard finished the season with 54 tackles and seven sacks.
Since the Cleveland Browns have returned in 1999, they have not had a relentless pass rush that rivals those in their own division. Kruger and Sheard will be responsible for changing that.
The Cleveland Browns also signed free agent defensive tackle Desmond Bryant to a reported five-year, $34-million-dollar contract. Bryant will add more depth on the defensive line.
The Browns now have six of the seven members of the defensive line under the age of 27, with Juqua Parker being the veteran of the group at age 34. It remains to be seen who will start at the two defensive end spots on the line, but the Browns have solid depth among the defensive line.
Cleveland also signed another linebacker, Quentin Groves. Groves played last season in Arizona under Ray Horton. Groves flourished in his role recording four sacks as a backup linebacker. Like Kruger and Sheard, Groves will play outside linebacker. It remains to be seen who the fourth outside linebacker will be, but second-year players James-Michael Johnson, Tank Carder and Emmanuel Acho are all possibilities.
Besides just addressing defense, the Browns did address a need on offense. The Browns inked tight end Gary Barnridge to a three-year contract. New Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner incorporate tight ends into their offensive game planning. While Norv was the head coach in San Diego, he had future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates. Both Chudzinski and Turner like to attack the seams of the defense with the tight ends.
The Browns have gotten off to a good start in free agency, but there are still holes to fill. On offense, the Browns still need a guard, wide receiver and another tight end. Also, with the Browns the quarterback position is always a question. Brandon Weeden has a chance to flourish under Chudzinski’s offense with the right weapons. On defense, the Browns can use an inside linebacker, a safety and possibly two cornerbacks.
It also remains to be seen if the Browns will resign Phil Dawson. It also appears that kick returner, Josh Cribbs, is headed to Arizona. This opens two spots on special teams that the Browns will have to fill. The Browns can fill these positions in the upcoming NFL Draft on April 25, an event that Browns fans unfortunately look forward to every season.