American Football

Browns to sign first external free agent in Texans defensive end


NFL: Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Browns free agency: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is a pass rushing specialist on the upswing

The Cleveland Browns started the day by bringing back LB Sione Takitaki and center Ethan Pocic. For many Browns fans, watching DT Javon Hargrave and S Jessie Bates III sign with other teams is tough to see.

Finally, GM Andrew Berry is on the board with the addition of DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo according to multiple reports. Like all reports of signing players from other teams, nothing becomes official until Wednesday when the league year officially begins.

In Okoronkwo, Berry adds a player on the upswing of his career. He’s played in 50 games, starting eight, contributing 34 pressures, 24 QB hits, 14 tackles for loss, 10 hurries and 9.5 sacks.

As covered in our free agent profile of him, Okoronkwo really came on in his final 11 games of the season last year:

It took a while to get going, but starting in Week 7 Okoronkwo’s pass-rush grade of 88.5 over the final 11 games of the season was the league’s sixth-best among edge rushers, according to Pro Football Focus. That closing stretch also saw him post a pass-rush win rate of 22.9 percent (seventh-best) and his 17.5 pressure percentage was eighth-best, per PFF.

With DEs Alex Wright and Isaiah Thomas coming into their second season, new DC Jim Schwartz has a lot of options to go with stud DE Myles Garrett.

Details of the contract he is expected to sign came out shortly after the news of his signing:

Okoronkwo should excel in Schwartz’s wide-9 scheme with the ability to get off the edge quickly with great counter moves and acceleration as seen here:

Unlike the first three years under Berry, Okoronkwo is a player who wins with speed and bend more than power. With Garrett providing a little of everything on the other side, Okoronkwo should have a chance to make huge plays if Berry can also shore up the middle of the defensive line.

Rumors persist that the Browns are still in on free agent DT Dre’Mont Jones who could help fill some of that need.

Stay tuned for more on Cleveland’s moves and what they mean for the team over the next few days when they become official.

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