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Browns add much needed secondary depth, sign CB Jason McCourty

Throughout this offseason, the Cleveland Browns have began filling plenty of holes on their team, whether it be on the offensive line or almost any other position on the field. Both in free agency and the draft, they have done their best to improve the roster of a team that was a dismal 1-15 in 2016.

One of the areas where they both didn’t improve much, however, is at cornerback. That depth became an even bigger issue when rookie cornerback and fourth-round pick Howard Wilson broke his kneecap during rookie minicamp this past weekend. In dire need of not only a legitimate cornerback to put alongside Joe Haden but also to add some much-needed depth, the Browns signed veteran Jason McCourty to a team friendly two-year, $6 million deal ($2 million guaranteed) on Tuesday, according to NFL Network’s Courtney Fallon.

The 29-year-old spent his first eight seasons in Tennessee before being released by the Titans on April 17. Over his eight-year stint in Tennessee, including being a full-time starter in his final six seasons with the team, McCourty totaled 496 tackles, 13 interceptions, 72 passes defended, six forced fumbles, five fumbles recovered, and two touchdowns in 108 games (90 starts).

Following a groin injury that caused him to miss 12 games in 2015, the 6-foot, 183-pound corner had 67 tackles, two interceptions, 12 passes defended, and one fumble recovery in 14 games in 2016. He missed the final two games of the season due to a sprained shoulder and chest contusion. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t the same last season as he was prior to his injury in 2015. McCourty was just the 55th-best cornerback in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus. For what it’s worth, the only Browns cornerback to rank better was Jamar Taylor (19th). Briean Boddy-Calhoun (71st) and Joe Haden (85th) filled out the rest of the top 100.

Following the draft, it’s somewhat odd that the Browns could add a good cornerback that will most likely start alongside Haden and be the team’s No. 2 cornerback, but according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, that’s exactly what they did. They not only got McCourtey for a nice deal, but added plenty of talent as well as someone who is familiar with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ defense, with the duo together in Tennessee in 2013.

Heading into free agency, McCourtey was ranked as the 12th-best cornerback on the market, according to walterfootball.com. Here’s what they had to say about the veteran:

Jason McCourty was once an excellent cornerback for the Titans, as they got the most out of their sixth-round pick from the 2009 NFL Draft. However, McCourty struggled through a groin injury in 2015 and never fully recovered last season. He didn’t perform poorly this past year, but he wasn’t back to pre-2015 form either. It’s possible, however, that McCourty could rebound. He may have a couple of decent seasons remaining in the tank, as he’s 29 until the middle of August.

At his best, McCourty can be a legitimate No. 2 cornerback who can significantly help the secondary. At his worst, he will bring a veteran presence and be an above-average cornerback. Keep in mind, the corner was a three-time team captain during his time with the Titans.

Heading into the upcoming season, it appears as though McCourty will be an immediate starter on the opposite side of Haden. Those two along with Taylor will be the three most used cornerbacks on the team.

In a text to ESPN’s Paul Kukharsky, he expressed his excitement about coming to Cleveland and even had plenty of positive things to say about the Browns and what’s going on in Berea as well.

“Just excited about the opportunity. Got a chance to be around the staff over the past day and half and a chance to sit and talk with some of the players. Very clear to see the excitement going on in the building. Just looking forward to helping this team in any way I can.”

  • RGB

    Whoa! 29? Isn’t that like 80 in Sashimetric years?

  • jpftribe

    Yes, but one needs to look no further than here for their true motivations…..
    http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/cleveland-browns/joe-haden-6516/

  • BenRM

    Solid signing.

  • RGB
  • jpftribe

    Cash flow. $10M cap hit, but 6 of that is old bonus. $7M cash savings this year has to be a topic of discussion.

  • RGB

    Is it unreasonable to think that he’ll end up in NE?

  • jpftribe

    Not by trade. I don’t see them taking a $11M cap hit for Haden.

  • tigersbrowns2

    “dire need of legitimate CB opposite Haden” ?? … McCourty is a nice pick-up & he will add some veteran depth to that secondary , but Jamar Taylor & Boddy-Calhoun are no slouches … right now , i don’t see McCourty beating out Taylor.

  • Eric G

    The gif game on this site is so on point. Sometimes I read the comments section to see which ones are being used. Keep up the good work, team.

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  • Pat Leonard

    I’m not 100% sure that they didn’t sign McCourty to play safety (unless it’s been stated somewhere that I haven’t seen). There’s a hole at FS and McCourty’s twin brother has slid over to that position and played at an elite level there.

  • Pat Leonard

    And actually MKC just tweeted that to be the case… McCourty told Browns he wants to help any way he can in response to question about CB or S.

  • tigersbrowns2

    hi PAT … good point.