The Browns entered free agency hoping to bolster a defensive backfield that struggled in stretches last season.
They took a step toward that goal last week, adding former Packers standout Damarious Randall, Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie and Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell to the lineup amid a frenzy that saw Cleveland reshape one of the league’s youngest rosters after a winless campaign in 2017.
“We know we needed to improve in the secondary,” coach Hue Jackson said last week, adding, “obviously, the quarterback position, at receiver and then the secondary, those are prime positions that affect the game so you have to continue to improve in those areas as fast as you can.”
Without a true free safety on the roster and limited depth at corner, Cleveland mixed and matched players in the secondary, a process that yielded mixed results. The Browns finished 26th in passing touchdowns allowed (28), 19th in total passing yards (3,684) and, perhaps most disappointing, second-to-last in interceptions (7). General manager John Dorsey, who was hired in December and spent the final four weeks of the season observing the Browns’ strengths and weaknesses, said the secondary needed to get faster.
“We could use a little bit more speed. That was one thing I thought, that we could use a little bit more speed in the defensive backfield,” he said. “I think we are going to get some speed in the defensive backfield.”
Carrie and Randall, who’ve started a combined 66 games in their previous stops, are poised to give the Browns that and more. Randall, a first-round pick in 2015, played cornerback in Green Bay but starred at safety in college. “Each day I’m going to come in here and try to learn defenses as fast as possible,” said Randall, whom Cleveland acquired in exchange for quarterback DeShone Kizer, “and just do what I can to help the team win games.”
Dorsey, who said he admired Randall at Arizona State, added, “I thought he was a really good football player. He has natural feet. He has really excellent athletic skill sets. He gives you great flexibility.”
Mitchell, who has bounced around the league and played during Dorsey's tenure as the Chiefs general manger, finished last season with four interceptions in nine starts.
Carrie, meanwhile, started all 16 games in Oakland last year as the Raiders’ top corner. “I think the biggest thing for me is to come in here with a sound mind and compete. Nothing is given in this league; you have to compete for everything that you want to accomplish,” said Carrie, a former seventh-round pick out of Ohio.
“Though I’m coming here to be a starter, that is still yet to be seen. I still have to display my talents to this staff and to this organization, that they can feel comfortable enough to trust me being on the field. Competition is something that I embrace and something that I have been doing for a very long time. I’m excited to get started.”