Saturday, August 6, 2022

Browns sign former Packers edge rusher, USFL Defensive Player of the Year

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Members of the Dawg Pound were anxious for the Cleveland Browns to solidify their defensive front. On Friday, the team took a big step in that direction.

Cleveland signed former NFL edge rusher Chris Odom on Aug. 5. The defensive end shared the news via his Instagram page.

“903 days since I was back in the league,” Odom wrote. “Thank you @theusfl @usflgamblers for the opportunity to continue living my dream. next chapter. Let’s get it @clevelandbrowns #dawgseason #dawgpound.”

Odom had stints with the Green Bay Packers in 2017 and the Washington Commanders in 2019. He appeared in a total of 11 regular-season games and accumulated 16 tackles, including two tackles for losses, two sacks, two quarterback hits and one forced Fumbling, according to Pro Football reference. Odom was also a twice member of the Atlanta Falcons organization but never rose above the preseason roster and/or practice team.

The Houston Gamblers of the United States Football League (USFL) drafted Odom with the fourth pick in the second round of the league draft in February. Odom won the 2022 USFL Defensive Player of the Year award and put on 29 tackles and 12.5 sacks in 10 games, according to Fox Sports.

After his impressive performance in the USFL, the Kansas City Chiefs invited Odom to a practice session in July before eventually signing with Cleveland on Friday.

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Cleveland already has an impressive edge rush, although Odom will bring depth to a unit that’s losing some steam beyond the starting lineup.

NFL All-Pro Myles Garrett was third in the league last season with 16 sacks. The Browns were also able to bring back defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for a year after he collected nine sacks for the team last season.

Aside from those two, the depth chart features rookie Alex Wright, Stephen Weatherly and Chase Winovich, who the Browns recently acquired through trading with the New England Patriots. Now entering the same mix, Odom will be in contention for snaps off the bench as well as his most prominent role on an NFL team yet.

While adding depth to the pass rush isn’t just nice, it’s vital in the pass-loving modern NFL, the Browns have yet to address their defense’s greatest weakness — the inside of the defensive line.

Malik Jackson and Malik McDowell, the two most prominent defensive tackle players in Cleveland last season, are not back on the team. Even if they were, the news wouldn’t inspire much confidence given the Browns’ struggle in the middle of last year.

Brown’s defensive line coach Chris Kiffin spoke specifically about the defensive tackle spot during an interview in mid-June.

“We addressed it [the position] in free agency with Taven [Bryan]and we addressed it with Perrion in the draft [Winfrey]Kiffin told Browns editor Anthony Poisal. “We also expect the boys to take the next step with Tommy Togiai and Jordan Elliott. They know they need to up their game and their time will come.”

For a time, it seemed like Ndamukong Suh’s time in Cleveland might come as his name was circulating in free-agent rumors. With nearly $49 million in salary cap before considering the Odom deal, the Browns could easily afford Suh, an Ironman defense tackle who most recently played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won a Super Bowl ring.

However, any discussion of adding Suh to the group has died down to a whisper as the five-time Pro Bowler has intensified talks with other franchises in the league, including the Minnesota Vikings.

“We addressed it [the position] in free agency with Taven [Bryan]and we addressed it with Perrion in the draft [Winfrey]Kiffin told Browns editor Anthony Poisal. “We also expect the boys to take the next step with Tommy Togiai and Jordan Elliott. They know they need to up their game and their time will come.”



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