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Report: Browns will go after Cliff Avril, Paul Kruger in free agency

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

In an effort to upgrade its defense -- a unit that finished 23rd in the league last season -- the Browns' new ownership group seems to not be messing around when it comes to free-agency plans.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns will go after Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger and Lions defensive end Cliff Avril -- two of the biggest defensive free agents who will hit the market on March 12.

The Browns also reportedly are interested in Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant -- coming off an arrest in which he made this face -- and Cardinals linebacker Quentin Groves.

Avril was franchise-tagged by the Lions in 2012. But after a season in which Avril accumulated 35 tackles and 9.5 sacks (only slightly worse numbers than what he accomplished in 2012), Detroit decided against tagging him again at a cost of $12.7 million. It sounds like Avril and the Lions aren't talking much these days -- which makes him, in the eyes of CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, the third-best free agent who will hit the market.

Meanwhile, various reports in the past month have speculated Kruger could command as much as $10 million per season on the open market, and you can bet Avril wants at least that much.

Good thing the Browns have a ton of salary-cap room -- according to spotrac.com, the Browns are about $50 million under for 2013.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

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