Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Browns keep busy by signing Groves
By Jamison Hensley
The Cleveland Browns remained one of the most active teams in free agency, reaching a two-year, $2.8 million deal with Arizona outside linebacker Quentin Groves.
The Browns' third signing in the first 16 hours of free agency offers a glimpse about the team's plan: improve the pass rush and provide flexibility in the draft.
Groves, 30, was a second-round bust in his first four seasons in the NFL, totaling 2.5 sacks in stops with Jacksonville and Oakland. He rejuvenated his career last season in Arizona under Ray Horton, who is now the Browns' defensive coordinator. Groves played in all 16 games for Arizona, making seven starts and recording career highs in sacks with four and tackles with 34.
Upgrading the pass rush has been a priority for the Browns in free agency. In addition to Groves, the Browns signed outside linebacker Paul Kruger, the sacks leader for the Super Bowl champion Ravens, and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, who ranked fourth among interior linemen in quarterback pressures last season.
In making the move to a 3-4 defense, the Browns have stocked up on outside linebackers with Kruger and Groves. Cleveland is also expected to move Jabaal Sheard from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 linebacker. This gives the Browns depth at that position and options with the No. 6 overall pick. While many predict the Browns will take a rush linebacker -- Oregon's Dion Jordan and Georgia's Jarvis Jones are the popular choices -- Cleveland isn't forced to take one because of this quick work in free agency.
The Browns are far from being done in free agency. Cleveland is expected to address cornerback (perhaps Pittsburgh's Keenan Lewis or San Diego's Antoine Cason) and tight end (likely target is Oakland's Brandon Myers).