The Cleveland Browns have agreed to terms with offensive tackle Donald Stephenson, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The agreement is a one-year pact worth $2.5 million.
Stephenson has spent the the past two seasons with the Denver Broncos. He signed a three-year contract worth $14 million in 2016. The Broncos voided his contract in February, which allowed him to become a free agent.
Stephenson played in seven games for the Broncos last season, including four starts. He has primarily played as a right tackle in Denver. In his two years in Denver, he played in 20 games, including 16 starts.
Before joining the Broncos in 2016, Stephenson played four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs drafted him in the third-round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. He was not drafted by the Browns current general manager John Dorsey. But Dorsey will be familiar with him as he became the Chiefs general manager in 2013.
In his career with the Chiefs, Stephenson played in 60 games, starting 21 of those games. He played at both tackle positions for Kansas City.
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For the Browns, this will likely be nothing more than to build depth along the offensive line. There is the potential that Stephenson could compete for the starting right tackle job with Shon Coleman. Coleman started all 16 games last year at right tackle, but was very inconsistent. He will not be guaranteed the starting job in 2018.
This move should also not mean much regarding Joe Thomas. The signing could be an insurance policy if Thomas does retire and Cleveland misses out on free agents like Nate Solder.
When Thomas went down last year with a torn tricep, Cleveland did not have depth at the tackle position. They were forced to kick Spencer Drango, who has mainly played at guard, out to left tackle to fill in for Thomas. The Stephenson signing could be made to prevent the Browns from being ill-prepared on the offensive line in case of injury.