Members of the Dawg Pound have been 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 to a deal on August 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 to live 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 11 regular season games combined, amassing 16 tackles, including two tackles for loss, two sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble, per Pro Football Reference. Odom was also a member of the Atlanta Falcons organization on two occasions, but never elevated above the preseason roster and/or practice squad.
The Houston Gamblers of the United States Football League (USFL) drafted Odom with the fourth pick in the second round of the league’s draft in February. Odom went on to win the USFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2022, putting up 29 tackles and 12.5 sacks in 10 games, per Fox Sports.
Following his impressive performance in the USFL, the Kansas City Chiefs hosted Odom for a workout in July before he ultimately signed on with Cleveland on Friday.
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Odom Adds Depth to Browns’ Already Vaunted Pass Rush
Cleveland already boasts an impressive edge rush, though Odom will provide depth to a unit that loses a little steam beyond the starting lineup.
NFL All-Pro Myles Garrett was third in the league in sacks last season with 16. The Browns were also able to bring defensive end Jadeveon Clowney back on a one-year deal after he tallied nine sacks for the team last season.
Beyond those two, the depth chart reads rookie Alex Wright, Stephen Weatherly and Chase Winovich, who the Browns recently acquired via trade with the New England Patriots. Odom now enters that same mix and will compete for snaps off the bench, as well as his most prominent role on an NFL team yet.
Browns Still in Need of Help on Interior of Defensive Line
While adding depth to the pass rush isn’t just nice, it’s crucial in the pass-happy modern NFL, the Browns still have yet to address their defense’s biggest weakness — the interior of the defensive line.
Malik Jackson nor Malik McDowell, the two most prominent players at defensive tackle in Cleveland last season, are not back with the team. Even if they were, the news wouldn’t inspire a great deal of confidence, as the Browns struggled mightily up the middle most of last year.
Browns defensive line coach Chris Kiffin talked about the defensive tackle spot specifically during an interview in mid-June.
“We addressed [the position] in free agency with Taven [Bryan], and we addressed it in the draft with Perrion [Winfrey],” Kiffin told Browns staff writer Anthony Poisal. “We also expect guys to take that next step with Tommy Togiai and Jordan Elliott. They know they’ve got to step up their game and their time is coming.”
For awhile, it appeared as though Ndamukong Suh’s time in Cleveland might be coming, as his name was floated in free agent rumors. With nearly $49 million in salary cap space before factoring in the Odom deal, the Browns could easily afford Suh, an ironman defensive tackle who most recently played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he won a Super Bowl ring.
However, any discussion of bringing Suh into the fold has receded to a faint whisper, as the five-time Pro Bowler has ramped up discussions with other franchises around the league, including the Minnesota Vikings.
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