The Cleveland Browns have signed former San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Maurice Hurst to a one-year deal.
Hurst has played in just two games over the past two seasons due to injury. He missed all of last season with a torn biceps injury and played just two games with the 49ers in 2021 as he battled calf and ankle injuries.
Prior to the injury-derailed seasons, Hurst spent three seasons with the Raiders, appearing in 40 games with 17 starts. He collected 76 tackles, 8 TFLs and eight sacks during those three seasons.
The Browns are hoping Hurst can stay healthy and provide some depth at defensive tackle alongside Perrion Winfrey and Jordan Elliott. Cleveland signed former Minnesota Vikings big man Dalvin Tomlinson to a hefty deal in free agency and he’ll hold down one of the tackle spots.
The Browns are no strangers to taking risks on players who may have the upside but haven’t performed to it. The Browns previously signed former first-round pick Malik McDowell to deal despite some off-field issues and he panned out for a season, starting 14 games. Unfortunately, a bizarre, naked encounter with the police during the offseason ended his career in Cleveland.
Browns Get Big-Name Signing in Tomlinson
The Browns needed to rebuild the defensive tackle position this offseason after running out one of the worst position groups in football a year ago. The Browns defense as a whole was wildly consistent stopping the run, but it started up front, with teams gashing Cleveland for 4.7 yards per carry and 135 yards per game.
Tomlinson was the big, much-needed signing for the Browns and he’ll clog up the middle while Myles Garrett and others provide pressure. Tomlinson earned a 77.0 overall grade and 77.6 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus, each ranking 14th among NFL defensive tackles.
The 6-foot-3, 325-pound Tomlinson can clog holes but also apply his own pressure, with 13 sacks over six seasons.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to come to Cleveland and have a chance to compete for a championship for one of the greatest fan bases in the NFL, the Dawg Pound,” Tomlinson said in a statement. “I can’t wait to get to The Land, put on my orange and brown and start working alongside my new teammates and coaches. You’re going to get everything I have, Cleveland. Let’s go be great.”
Browns Knew What Kind of Players They Wanted
There was pressure this offseason to turn the defense around and maximize the prime of their star players like Garrett and Denzel Ward. The change started at the top, with the Browns bringing in veteran defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to replace Joe Woods.
Schwartz is known for getting the most out of his defensive lineman and was honed in on what kind of players he wanted to bring aboard.
“There are certain skill sets we look for and a little bit of play style that maybe other people might not appreciate as much,” Schwartz told the Browns’ official site in February. “They might use the person a little bit differently, and something that’s sort of involved in that scheme is that we can get guys going pretty quickly.
“I think that if we all work together, we can find some productive players regardless of (if they’re in) the first round, or as a high-priced free agent or anything else.”
We’ll see if Hurst can get his career back on track with the Browns.