Cleveland Browns add to the defense, Sign Karl Joseph and B.J. Goodson

  • 2020 NFL Free Agency
  • B.J. Goodson
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Karl Joseph
By Jereme Jones March 18, 2020 0 Comment
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After taking care of the offense early on in free agency, the Cleveland Browns finally improve the defense by adding Joseph and Goodson.

The Cleveland Browns have been very busy in free agency this off-season but had only added to the offensive side of the ball early on. On Wednesday, the team finally changed their focus to the defense. The Browns have signed two free-agent defenders; safety Karl Joseph and linebacker B.J. Goodson. Both players agreed to 1-year deals with Cleveland.

Karl Joseph, who played collegiately at West Virginia, was a 1st round pick in the 2016 draft by the Raiders.  In his four years in Oakland, he played in 49 games and started 41, including nine starts last season. During his career, he has 236 tackles, 15 passes defended, and four interceptions. Joseph has dealt with some injury issues, including last year. He ended the 2019 season on injured reserve when he required foot surgery after an injury in week 10. Before the injury, however, he was having a career year with Oakland.

Before Joseph’s signing, the Browns only had two safeties on their roster; second-year players Sheldrick Redwine and J.T. Hassell. The team cut former starting strong safety Morgan Burnett on Monday. They also lost back-ups, Eric Murray and Juston Burris. Murray signed a 3-year, $20.25 million contract with the Texans. Burris is now a Carolina Panther after agreeing to a 2-year, $8 million deal.

Joseph is a strong safety whose best attribute is his tackling ability.  Looking at the current roster, you would expect Joseph to start at strong safety. Depending on what other moves are made at the position this off-season, Redwine could start at free safety or be the third safety. Most importantly, Joseph automatically becomes the best tackler in the Browns’ secondary and a guy that new defensive coordinator Joe Woods can count on in the back of his defense.

Cleveland also made a much-needed addition to the linebacking corps Wednesday with the signing of B.J. Goodson from the Green Bay Packers. Goodson is a fourth-year middle linebacker from Clemson. He began his career as a 4th round pick of the Giants in 2016. Goodson spent three years in New York, starting 20 of 37 games, accumulating 160 tackles, and two interceptions.

After the 2018 season, Green Bay traded for Goodson, acquiring him and a 2020 7th round pick in exchange for a 2020 7th round pick. In his one season with the Packers, Goodson appeared in 15 games, making nine starts. He had 37 tackles last season. Goodson, like Joseph, has a reputation as a solid tackler. During his season in Green Bay, he was limited mostly to obvious run downs and rarely used in coverage.

Linebacker is another position with limited depth right now in Cleveland. Only two players on the roster should be considered potential starters, second-year players Mack Wilson and Sione Takitaki. Goodson and Takitaki will likely compete for the starting middle linebacker job in camp. Even if he wins the job, Goodson would probably be an early-down, run-stopping linebacker, who would be subbed out in passing situations.

Neither Joseph nor Goodson are big-name, or long-term signings. They are, however, low-risk signings who, at best, can be solid starters and, at worst, offer much-needed depth. These are smart moves by general manager Andrew Berry. It will be interesting to see how Berry continues to build this defense over the off-season. Cleveland still needs to add depth at all three levels of the defense, whether through free agency or the draft. Adding Joseph and Goodson doesn’t solve all the Browns’ issues on defense, but it is a good way for Cleveland to begin addressing their needs on that side of the ball.

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