Even as Jadeveon Clowney moved out of the picture, the Browns look to still be deeper on the edge than they were during the Clowney-Myles Garrett years. They have added two intriguing complementary rushers this offseason.
Obo Okoronkwo signed with Cleveland during free agency’s first week, and the Browns completed a pick-swap trade with the Vikings that will send Za’Darius Smith back to the AFC North. In between these moves, however, the team looked into another edge addition. The Browns pursued free agent defensive end Melvin Ingram, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
The Browns initially prioritized Smith, with Cabot noting Andrew Berry and ex-Browns staffer Kwesi Adofo-Mensah discussed the disgruntled pass rusher in March and April. With no deal materializing by the draft, the Browns checked in on Ingram, an 11-year veteran who played out his one-year Dolphins contract last season.
Eyeing an Ingram agreement similar to the pact they gave Clowney in 2022 — one year, $10MM — the Browns instead found a way to acquire Smith, who is three years younger than the former Chargers Pro Bowler. Ingram is one of many veteran edge players still in free agency, joining the likes of Yannick Ngakoue, Frank Clark, Leonard Floyd and Justin Houston. The Browns’ price point may shed some light on where this market stands.
Ingram, 34, broke through for his most sacks since 2020 last season, notching six in Miami. Only Jaelan Phillips (seven) tallied more for the team. The former Bolts first-round pick has also scored two defensive touchdowns over the past two seasons, doing so in consecutive regular-season games — Week 18 in 2021 and Week 1 of last season. Ingram, who played for the Steelers and Chiefs in between time with the Bolts and Dolphins, has 57 career sacks.
Smith has 54.5 despite working as more of a rotational rusher in Baltimore. He rebounded from a lost 2021 season in ’22, recovering from his back surgery to play 16 Vikings games. The eight-year veteran finished with 10 sacks during his Minnesota one-off. Clowney totaled nine during his debut with Garrett, though the former No. 1 overall pick — amid a turbulent season — regressed in 2022, registering only two in his second Cleveland slate. The Browns will expect more from Smith, who has two years remaining on his reworked contract.