The Cleveland Browns have come to an agreement with defensive lineman Chris Smith on a three-year deal, according to Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager. The deal will be worth $14 million total over the three years, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.
Smith spent the 2017 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he played all 16 games in a limited role. He played in 35 percent of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps in 2017 and totaled 26 total tackles, three sacks, and a forced fumble.
Smith was drafted in the fifth round out of Arkansas in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 26-year-old defensive lineman played in 19 games with the Jaguars. He totaled 4.5 sacks, 19 tackles, and a forced fumble in three seasons in Jacksonville. He was traded to the Bengals for a conditional draft pick last April.
Smith primarily played as an edge defender, but saw some time as defensive tackle with the Bengals. But at 6-foot-1 and 266 pounds, he is a little too lean to see a lot of time up the middle of the defensive line.
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Agreeing to a three-year deal shows the Browns are willing to bet on his upside. He will be a role player in Cleveland’s defense, most likely as a situational pass rusher. Cleveland’s edge defenders currently consists of Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, Nate Orchard, and Carl Nassib.
This signing should be seen as nothing more than to build depth along the defensive line. But the Browns had problems dealing with injuries last year along the defensive line. They did not have enough talented depth to maintain a quality line when Ogbah and Garrett both missed games last year.
But under Gregg Williams’ aggressive 4-3 scheme, Smith could see time in a creative third-down pass rushing defensive line. It is never a bad thing to have quality situational players on a roster. Cleveland lacking those types of players is one reason they went 0-16 last season. The Smith signing is a step in the right direction for Cleveland.