A Complement Rusher Opposite Myles Garrett Remains A Browns Need

Myles Garrett, who met with NFL reps in New York on Monday, has been training for his return from NFL suspension. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Myles Garrett, who met with NFL reps in New York on Monday, has been training for his return from NFL suspension. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)


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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.

First in a series.

The blueprint of the Browns’ player transaction season will be written after a thorough evaluation of the roster that coach Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry inherit from their predecessors.

Stefanski and his coaching staff, and Berry and all the scouts, must have a clear understanding of their own players before they head to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis beginning Feb. 23.

Starting today, we preview each Browns position group to set up yet another important offseason for the franchise with the longest playoff drought in the NFL.

(Salary information courtesy of overthecap.com)

Defensive line

Position coach: Chris Kiffin, 38.

The pass rush specialist of the San Francisco 49ers in 2018-19, he is the younger son of long-time NFL D-line coach Monte Kiffin and younger brother of new Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin. Previous experience includes stops at Florida Atlantic (under his brother), Mississippi (under coach Hugh Freeze), Arkansas State, USC and Nebraska.

Players under contract (with projected 2020 salary cap figures in millions)

Eli Ankou ($.735), Daniel Ekuale ($.585), Myles Garrett ($9.676), Porter Gustin ($.585), Robert McCray ($.510), Larry Ogunjobi ($2.389), Sheldon Richardson ($13.66), Chad Thomas ($1.113), Olivier Vernon ($15.5), Justin Zimmer ($.660).

Players with expiring contracts

Bryan Cox Jr.

Overview

There are a few business matters to attend to. 1. In the last year of the Giants contract inherited by the Browns, Vernon, 29, appears to be a convenient cap casualty. As of now, his $15.5 million salary cap figure is the highest on the team, but none is guaranteed. 2. Garrett met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York on Monday and is expected to be reinstated from NFL suspension prior to the start of Stefanski’s offseason program on April 6. The Browns have to exercise Garrett’s fifth-year option by May 5. The projected figure for that is about $15.3 million, which would be Garrett’s 2021 salary unless he and the Browns agree to a multi-year contract. 3. In the second of his three-year contract, Richardson has $2 million already guaranteed and another $6.5 million on March 20.

What’s needed

Assuming Vernon is not retained, a pass-rush complement to Garrett remains the No. 1 need. Former GM John Dorsey replaced Emmanuel Ogbah with Vernon. Neither filled the bill.

(Next: Linebacker)