The Cleveland Browns had a couple of free agents that were starters or key contributors on their defense last year. Jadeveon Clowney topped the list along with Anthony Walker Jr., Ronnie Harrison, M.J. Stewart and Takk McKinley.
Cleveland brought back Walker earlier this offseason while Stewart signed with the Houston Texans. McKinley’s torn Achilles tendon late in the 2021 season will likely keep him out for the majority of the 2022 year.
The Browns want to bring back Clowney to help fortify a defensive line that lacks starters outside of Myles Garrett.
That meant Harrison’s free agency was the most interesting. He has started for the team shortly after arriving in a trade but wasn’t great for the team. With only a couple of weeks before the NFL draft, the strong safety will be returning to Cleveland for one more year:
Harrison started alongside John Johnson III and/or Grant Delpit most of the year. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has made it clear that he prefers having three safeties on the field as often as possible.
With Richard LeCounte III not showing much as a rookie and the versatile Stewart gone, some wondered if Cleveland would pursue Tyrann Mathieu to replace Harrison.
Harrison has played in 23 games for the Browns, starting 18 of those in two seasons. During that time he has two interceptions, one touchdown, one fumble recovery and two sacks.
The former Alabama star struggled at times with discipline finding himself out of position on run fits and in coverage. His aggressive style does lend to some big hits as well.
With Harrison back, Woods has the majority of his secondary returning for a second year. Expecting development from Greg Newsome II and LeCounte in their second years will also improve the play of those around them.
GM Andrew Berry can now focus on the defensive line and wide receiver needs before the NFL draft at the end of the month.