The Browns won seven games last season and finished with their best record since 2007. Rookie Baker Mayfield obviously was a big part of that but so too was Cleveland's defense, which finished 12th in the league, according to Football Outsiders, up from 16th in 2017.
And that defense has gotten a lot better over the last week; the team is expected to sign defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to a three-year deal, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter, a development that comes days after the Browns agreed to trade for Giants pass rusher Olivier Vernon.
The deal is reportedly worth $39 million and includes $21.5 million in guarantees.
Originally the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Richardson spent his first four seasons with the Jets where he had 18 sacks, six passes defended and five forced fumbles. He was traded to Seattle before the 2017 season (one sack, one pass defended, one forced fumble), and he signed a one-year deal with Minnesota for the 2018 campaign (4.5 sacks).
Just 28 years old, Richardson remains one of the most athletic interior linemen in the league. And now he'll join a young, athletic Browns team that will be looking for their first playoff appearance since 2002. The Browns' front four now includes some variation of Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi, Richardson, Emmanuel Oghbah and Vernon. And in our latest mock draft we have Cleveland taking the most athletic cornerback in the draft, Greedy Williams, with the No. 17 pick, and one of the most athletic linebackers in this class at No. 49, Mack Wilson.